Arianne Thompson's Reviews > Emperor Mollusk versus The Sinister Brain

Emperor Mollusk versus The Sinister Brain by A. Lee Martinez
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Feb 29, 2012

it was amazing
bookshelves: fantasy-humor
Read in March, 2012

You know, probably the worst thing you could say about this book is that it would make a great video game. There are something like nine setpieces/stages in the space of 300 pages, most of which culminate in a big action sequence and the acquisition of a specific plot-piece doodad.

So what's really doing my nut in here is trying to figure out how a book that is structurally so episodic can be so - excuse me for saying it - cerebral. This is NOT pulp-by-the-numbers - far from it. It's fun and compelling all the way through, with all its colorful characters and settings sewn together by a clear and well-developed theme. Future reviewers will probably mention Megamind (and I will be disappointed if nobody else brings up Krang of Ninja-Turtle fame), but the best comparison I can make is to The Nightmare Before Christmas: you can enjoy that movie as just as a fun fantasy with lots of Halloween monsters and great songs, but at its core, it's a story about trying to be someone you're not, and one well-crafted enough to satisfy even the card-carrying grown-ups among us. Likewise, Emperor Mollusk is a veritable Van Gogh of thickly-painted, brightly-colored dinosaurs and space-ships and Venusian lizard-warriors with ray-guns, swirled together to make a bigger picture that's really pretty striking.

I could hand-wring about minor points here: those nine set-pieces do blow by pretty quickly, with very little time to spend savoring any particular one, and you might not get as much out of the ending if, like me, you have a hard time wrapping your modest Earthling brain around the finer ins and outs of time travel. But what I really want to emphasize is that this is not just an average book wrapped up with a gimmicky name. Assuming your first thought on reading the title was "hey, that sounds fun - is it any good?" then I can all say is: if it does, then yes - yes it is.
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