The Order of the Odd-Fish Book Review

The desert was empty, as though a great drain had sucked the world underground. Every color, every sound had vanished, leaving nothing but flat sand and silence.
–pg 1

Read an author interview here

 The Order of the Odd-Fish by James Kennedy

First I gotta say that I’ve been typing this title wrong the entire time: It’s Order of Odd Fish, not Order of the Odd Fish. And no one ever bothered to tell me. It’s like when you’ve something in your teeth, and you’re talking to people and they just let you go on being embarrassed.

Since I’m lazy, we’re gonna use the same summary as before:

The Oder of the Odd Fish is about a young girl, Jo, who was left on her aunt’s doorstep as a baby with a note proclaiming that she was dangerous. But for the thirteen years of her life, Jo has been nothing but docile. Then one night, during her aunt’s Christmas party, a hedgehog shoots a fat Russian and a cockroach escapes from the basement. From there, strange things begin to happen and nothing is ever the same for Jo.

And now I will confront the things that I wrote about in my last review. First, the villains. Once again, I didn’t like the level of evilness here. The silly man was funny to read about at first, but I found myself skimming chapters specifically about him later on. The very evil guy was alright once I got to meet him, but the more I read about him, the more he just seemed to be gory and cruel. I felt like I was missing out on what made him evil, because this was a villain with a past. And his name completely distracted me from his evilness. I would’ve liked it better if he’d been referred to as just Nills. Nills can be evil. Belgian Prankster? Not so much.

And, like with the silly villain, I found myself getting bored with the Prankster. He wasn’t holding my interest, even when he was threatening and conniving and all that.

Second, the plot. The writing is okay, nothing great, nothing too bad. But too often, Kennedy starts a chapter with a weather update and some random thing that Jo is doing that somehow leads into the event of the chapter. It follows this pattern:

( For those who don’t know, passive means not actively taking part, so when I say passive, I mean the author is giving a very general kind of overview of what’s been happening, like “December passed slowly. Every day so and so did this,” as opposed telling me what so and so  are doing as it happens.)

Passive tone, event that nudges plot in the right direction, passive, end chapter.

I did not like this pattern. I hate it when authors are excessively passive. I can understand it once or twice in the story, but every chapter? Come on. I feel like you get one passive scene per season change and one or two for after main events. Like in Harry Potter, Rowling usually tells me as it happens, until the semester changes or they find out something dramatic, and she’ll say something like November came in and young Harry was struggling to keep up, list of events, ect. These kinds of scenes are good for covering long stretches of time in-between action, but I felt like there was too much of this. An overdose can really make a book feel long and dragging and dull. And while the events that followed the passive parts were occasionally hilarious, it felt like too much work.

Also, there were some parts that were just outright boring to read. At one point, Jo was watching a jousting- like tournament and it was completely not interesting. The part after that, with Oona Looch was deadly funny, but it was so short, that I felt like I was getting ripped off.

So my opinion on the plot hasn’t changed much and neither has my opinion on the evil doers.

Now, for the romance.

Oh God. Ian’s mustache. That thing bugged the  heck outta me. No joke. In fact, it annoyed me so much that I kept track of how many times it was mentioned. The grand total was 10 times before Ian (thank God) finally shaved the darn thing off.

Remember before, how I had said that if you want me to like a character, don’t keep reminding me that there is something abhorrent about them? Yeah. Well, fail. Maybe Kennedy just didn’t know that. Perhaps he hasn’t read enough romances. But if you don’t know romance, don’t write it (a warning to all you Stephanie Meyer wannabes)!

Actually, after finishing the book, I must say that I liked the romance better. Although there wasn’t much build up and it seemed to happen rather fast in the beginning (they snuggle O_o) disappear in the middle and suddenly flare up again at the end (they tumbled down a hill– scandalous!)  it was kinda sweet the way Jo saved Ian from Oona Looch by snogging him. I must admit, the scene had me smiling ridiculously just because it was so funny and cute.

One thing that I liked since the first time I read it and even more now were the characters. Ian and Jo were normal but the Odd Fish knights and dames and Oona Looch, they were hilarious. I loved them. Really. They were so indescribably random and funny and usual in a way that made this book worth reading just for the scene where Oona threatens to sit on her husband, or Sir Oliver worries that his dithering is not what it used to be.

Some of my favorite scenes are the ones where Sefino confronts that Chatterbox, and when he gives Jo that hat and lies so blatantly about her lusting after it since a young age.

These wonderful characters will bring me to my last point. This book did not reach its full potential and I think that is because it was trying to be something else. It wanted to have action and betrayal, but those are the parts I skimmed. Indeed, in the end, at the height of the battle I was yawning. But, I stayed up an extra 30 minutes (and I was dead tired too) just to read about Sefino and his media issues.

I think this book would have been so much better if the evil characters were removed. If it had been a story about Jo and her adventures in Eldritch City, then I think it would have more interesting and worth reading over and over. The silly everyday bits were so much better than the action, and had the story been as such, so much passive writing for transitions wouldn’t have been necessary because slice-of-life stories are allowed to be a little random. It could have been a really funny romantic-comedy thing. I could see it just being about Jo and her escapades, which would have allowed more development with Ian and in the end she would have realized that here is where she wants to be, that she was home.

Which reminds, me, I still don’t like the “I am home” ending of this book because it so overused. It’s not a great ending, but it’s not awful either.

I don’t think I’ll read this book over, not the whole of it anyways. And I’ll recommend with these words: “Great characters, and funny but don’t feel too bad about skimming.” After finishing this book, I can’t really say that it has moved up much in my ranking. I’m sorry to say, but the final score is only 1 Q higher.

Personally, I didn’t enjoy it all, but someone else might. So if you want to read it, go ahead.

Mr. Kennedy will be an author to look for in the future if he can channel his humor into the right story.

 

Ri’s Rating:

QQQ/QQQQQ

3/5

0. Couldn’t get past chapter one for fear of wanting to kill myself. Book induced suicide…

1: Yuck. Ew. Below Average. Probably didn’t even read the middle and skipped to the end.

2. Ok. Would’ve been better if I’d written the ending and everything else.

3. Not bad at all. Very enjoyable. Quite nice. Recommendable.

4. My kind of book. Near ideal, but something was a little off (annoying names, bad ending, that sort of thing).

5. WOW. Makes me wonder why people watch T.V when this is out there. Really liked it. Don’t expect to see this often.

6 and above. What I want my book to be.

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5 Comments

  1. You should probably finish it. But then again, I’m not totally unbiased.

    Reply
    • Ri

       /  August 18, 2009

      I still have it, your book. Every now and then I glance through it and read a passage. I might end up reading it out order. Some parts I really enjoy (Sefino and Korsakov especially) and some parts, not so much.

      If I may ask, how did you find this? Did you just google your name? (I do that all the time.) Anyways, please don’t take what I said to heart, if at all you feel insulted by what I’ve written. I’m just a kid, so I’m probably impulsive and lacking in experience and taste.

      And by the way, thanks for commenting. I’m honored.

      Reply
  2. Never underestimate the power of obsessive, egotistical self-googling! (Actually, I have a Google alert placed on the words “order of odd-fish” so your blog post came to me automatically.) Don’t fret about me taking a negative review to heart — I can endure it, and it gives me an opportunity to learn how to improve. I probably learn even more than I would from a positive review . . . heck, I have enough positive reviews; your negative review is a rare and precious thing, like a Chorioactis geaster, like the last unicorn.

    Reply
  3. But did you like the cover?

    Reply
    • Actually, I did.

      I saw the cover and thought, “How odd, a fish is barfing all over the place, you don’t see that often,” and then I decided it might be a good book.

      Reply

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