Author: DC Pierson
Genre: YA, humor/parody, fantasy
Publication Date: March 7, 2013 (Penguin – North America)
Source: Publisher-provided ARC
Summary: THE CHOSEN ONE MUST BE RETRIEVED FROM EARTH
HE WILL BRING DOWN THE WALL AND RESTORE THE KINGDOM TO GLORY
HIS NAME IS TOM PARKING
With this mysterious yet oddly ordinary-looking prophecy, Tom’s fate is sealed: he’s been plucked from his life and whisked away to a magical kingdom to be its Chosen One.
There’s just one problem: The kingdom is mostly made of garbage from Earth. Okay, well, two problems: the king hates Tom. Also, the princess likes to wear fake mustaches. And being Chosen One seems to consist mainly of cleaning out rats’ noses at the Royal Rat-Snottery.
So, basically, the kingdom sucks.
When Tom turns down the job of Chosen One, he thinks he’s making a smart decision. But when Tom discovers he’s been replaced by his best friend Kyle, who’s always been cooler, more athletic, and better with girls, Tom wants Crap Kingdom back—at any cost. And the hilarity that ensues will determine the fate of the universe.
☆: 3/5 stars – a solid YA adventure!
Review: Much like Ned Vizzini’s “The Other Normals”, DC Pierson’s “Crap Kingdom” takes on the traditional fantasy “Chosen One” trope (literally) and turns it on its head. While I couldn’t completely click with this story and Pierson’s style, I still enjoyed it. If you’re looking for a good older MG/young YA book for a guy, “Crap Kingdom” is a great story to start with.
As I said before, I couldn’t really get into Pierson’s style here very well, but this was still a fun read. I think one of the major themes of this story is “expectations versus reality” (kind of borrowing from “500 Days of Summer”, here) in terms of growing up and how real life is. I love how Tom wants so desperately to be the Chosen One, only to find out how not awesome it is, and how deceptive all of those fantasy books he’s ever read have been. The world that Pierson creates is very complete, very 3D, and feels very real, and that’s hard to do in a YA/MG contemporary, much less adding in a semi-secondary world to which the protagonist travels.
He’s also great with sensory language – though all of the puking and other gross details did get to me after awhile. While he embellishes and really makes his world real with all of these details, in some places it just felt like it was a little too much (for me, at least), and might have done better with a little bit of editing. I hope by the time this got pubbed that that editing happened. And if not, that’s okay too – this book generally just didn’t click with me, but I think older MG audience and young YA audience boys will love it if just for all of those gross details alone.
There’s also a sense of self-depreciation here when Pierson is building Tom – he’s the Chosen One, but once he finds out the reality of his situation, there’s a lot of humble humor that goes on with that. At least, that’s the feeling I got from that part of the book. It’s a surprisingly thoughtful book, and that was something I hadn’t really expected. Pierson is great at building his characters, and by the time the book is done, I think you’ll find yourself just a bit more attached (and rooting for) Tom. I know I was. And I loved that final showdown between Tom and Kyle. Though I wish this had been narrated in 1st instead of 3rd close, I was still pretty satisfied with the way the characters were built.
Final verdict? While I can honestly say this wasn’t quite the book for me, I had a lot of fun reading it. I think it’s a good shot in the arm for YA boys’ fiction, which desperately needs it. “Crap Kingdom” is out now from Penguin in North America, so be sure to check it out when you get the chance!