Sunday, May 22, 2011

Jacob Wonderbar

A few years ago, I started reading a young agent's blog about the publishing business because, even though I was already reading plenty about publishing, the voice in this blog was just so darn entertaining. From time to time, I wondered why this agent wasn't writing instead of agenting, but I didn't ask because:
1) By that time, he had become my agent, and I was happy with that situation;
2) I figured that his proximity to writers had shown him how crazy a life this is (Hard work and constant rejection! Boy, there's an attractive package!) and that he must be saner than the rest of us.

But the call of the Writing Muse is a strong one, and it turned out he was as crazy as any of us, and the only reason I didn't know it sooner was that he didn't let it interfere with his agenting. Ultimately, the digital revolution snatched him away from agenting, in the form of a job working on social media for a tech company. But his love for storytelling is evident in this book:

Jacob Wonderbar and the Cosmic Space Kapow, by Nathan Bransford. It's a fun middle-grade read about kids zooming through outer space, encountering talking mice with an attitude, a giant diamond, a space pirate, and a whole planet full of substitute teachers. Also, they must try to find their way home after they accidentally break the Universe.

Unfortunately I can't tell you my favorite parts, because they are spoilers, but here is my favorite line, spoken by the space pirate: "'It's not easy being the one with a vision, but it's a burden I choose to accept.'" The whole tone of the book reflects the humor I first encountered in the author's blog--although the book is not without its serious moments, as the main character has big questions about what has become of his father.

For those reading as writers, note the way that smaller obstacles and challenges come up in the course of the book to keep the pace moving, and how there's a rhythm to their step-wise resolution, so that the reader always has a reason to keep turning the pages. This would be a good model to study for action/adventure-driven books. Also, this is the first book in a series, yet the author wraps up enough of this book's plotlines to be satisfying, while leaving a door cracked open that provides room for the subsequent books. So it's a good example of that as well.

Source of recommended read: Bought.

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