Sunday, August 15, 2010

The Hollow Chocolate Bunnies of the Apocalypse - Robert Rankin

2002; 342 pages. New Author? : No. Awards : SFX Book of the Year (2003). Genre : Humor; Fantasy. Overall Rating : 8*/10.
13-year-old Jack comes to Toy City seeking to make his fortune. He meets Eddie Bear (a teddy bear), who is looking for a new detective partner, since his old one, Bill Winkie, has disappeared.
Toy City needs their help because someone is methodically and maniacally killing the "old rich" nursery rhyme characters (more correctly called "Preadolescent Poetic Personalities") . Humpty Dumpty has been poached in his magniloquent swimming pool. Little Boy blue has been skewered on his own shepherd's crook. Then there are those ubiquitous chocolate bunnies...
What's To Like...
Robert Rankin has created a fascinating world in Toy City. There are toon-sized bars, bawdy bordellos, the revered-but-clueless Toy Maker, and Missy Muffet's popular talk show, "Tuffet". The stars of the book are Jack and Eddie, but the other characters are fun to meet too. Among them are Mother Goose (she prefers to be called 'Madame Goose'), Rhymey Frog, Tinto the barman, and Wibbly, who's one of those sock 'em toys you used to have, bottom-weighted so it always bounced back up.
Half the fun of a Robert Rankin book is the wordplay. There are running gags, puns, and understated humor. This makes for a lot of chuckles, but he also manages to take some pokes at some serious subjects, such as capital punishment, religious denominations, and conspiracy theories.
Eddie habitually never completes his similes. He's as crazy as. Each chapter ends with a hook, and literary devices, such as a macguffin (here spelled "maguffin") abound. The book ends with a series of twists that keep you guessing.
Kewl New Words...
Gormster : a low-level slang term for someone who's an idiot. Iconoclast : one who seeks to overthrow popular ideas or institutions. Winkling : extracting or prying something out from a place or a position. Conurbation : a predominantly urban area, but also including adjacent towns, suburbs, etc. Magniloquent : lofty and extravagant in style. Caryatid : a supporting column in the form of a draped female figure. (Wiki it). Thuya : the wood of a sandarac tree.
The frabious grammeting of the lock against its keep was positively malagrous in its percundity. The greebing and snattering was starkly blark.
And as for the spondabulous carapany that the broken door made as it struck the vestibule floor...
... the word phnargacious is hardly sufficient.
Rapantaderely phnargacious would be more accurate. (pg. 72; an example of Rankin's wordplay)
"Big Jack Black
Lived in a sack,
Lived in a sack did he.
He dined upon cripples,
And little boys' nipples,
Served upon toast for his tea." (pg. 86)
Eddie placed the item before him upon the bar counter and poked at it with a paw. In terms of the looks of it, it was truly beyond description. But considering its size, or lack of it, its weight was unsurprising. "It looks like the Big M," he said. "The Maguffin. What do you think, Jack?"
"Looks like it to me," Jack agreed. (pg. 187, and as detailed of a description as you'll get of this object)
"I love the smell of offal in the morning." (pg. 327)
The Hollow Chocolate Bunnies of the Apocalypse will inevitably get compared to Jasper Fforde's The Big Over Easy. I doubt either author cribbed off the other, but keep in mind Rankin's book (2002) preceded Fforde's (2006) by several years.
THCBotA has some R-rated scenes that seemed ill-fitting. It also took about 70 pages to hit its stride, although once it did, it was a great read. I didn't find it quite as engaging as my previous Rankin book, Brightonomicon (reviewed here), but that's a later work by the author (2005), so maybe he keeps getting better with age. The sequel to THCBotA, The Toyminator, came out in 2006, and is on my TBR shelf. I'm looking forward to further adventures by Eddie and Jack. 8 Stars.

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