“When Lily Gefelty got out of bed on the morning of the big game, she looked out the window to see what kind of a day it was going to be. She discovered that it was the kind of day when a million beetles crawl out of the ground and swarm the streets, forecasting evil.”
The third book in M.T. Anderson‘s brilliant Pals in Peril series is, well, brilliant. Shocking, I know. I wish I could get down on one knee and ask his brain to marry me. Anyways, the adventure begins when Jasper Dash, locked in a grueling game of Stare-Eyes (yes, really) gets a psychic call for help from his friend, a young monk of Vbngoom, a super top secret monastery hidden in the mountains of Delaware. He, Lily, and Katie rush off to the mystical land of Delaware, where they trek through treacherous jungle cities, evade spies, flee either a Tyrannosaurus or an Allosaurus (jury is out on that one), and maybe even do a little levitating all in an attempt to rescue the monks of Vbngoom from the clutches of some dastardly gangsters.
This “review” is going to be very short, since I don’t have much to say about it other than HOLY SHIT I LOVE THIS SERIES. It’s something that I like to sandwich in between heavier reads because the world of Pals in Peril makes my brain so freaking giddy I can barely even stand it. Once again a lot of the jokes will be better appreciated by adults, namely the not-so-subtle mockery of tourists who spend a week in some “undiscovered” place in an attempt to “find themselves.” I just love M.T. Anderson so much, people.
Also, as someone who works with the age group depicted here, even though most things about this book are meant to be over-the-top, a lot of it rang almost frighteningly true. Katie’s crush on Chote and Lily’s attempt to save her from humiliation? Pretty sure I’ve witnessed that exact scene 27 times while sitting at my desk. Oh, to be in seventh grade again. You would basically have to pay me all the money in the world to make me go back.
Because I promised to do so in my last Pals in Peril review, here are a few passages/quotes that, to me, really capture the flavor of this amazing series:
“‘Oh honey baby,’ crooned Mrs. Mulligan, ‘little girl…I’m turning around. I’m turning around right now. How about I take you to the mall over in Decentville? Just you and me. A girls’ day out with the two of us. We’ll drive over to the mall, walk around, buy some things, and watch the terrifying emergence in the candle store of a giant ironclad worm released by seismic activity from its million years of dreamless sleep.'” (This is Katie’s mom’s attempt to console her after she’s gotten her feelings hurt.)
“‘Cannibals?’ said Katie.
‘If they catches you, excellent girl, yes, you are cooked in tinfoils, with tomato and cilantro.’
‘Dastards,’ Jasper whispered, ‘I cannot stand cilantro.'”
“‘But you know, sometimes I kind of feel like I’d like to be normal. Maybe all three of us would be happier if we were normal.’
‘No one’s normal,’ said Lily quietly. ‘For people to be normal, there would have to be an average person. But people are too different. Look at all the people in Dover and then think about people back in Pelt. What’s normal?’
‘Exactly,’ Jasper said.
‘Normal,’ said Katie ‘means when you go out with your friends, you know you won’t end the evening jumping over pits of talking carpenter ants.’
‘I apologize for that,’ said Jasper soberly. ‘But that was three weeks ago, and I wish we would all put it behind us.’
‘Do you think Choate would ever-‘
I am very glad that the conversation was interrupted at this moment by a long tentacle coming down out of the trees, because I have to say I do not like emotional conversations.”
“‘Who would do a rotten thing like that?’ said Lisa Buldene.
Full of rage, Jasper looked her in the eye. He said, ‘I should have known-the moment I saw your pants.’
‘No human being would willingly wear pants that zipped off at the knee-no normal human being-unless they had rocket-thrusters in place of their detachable feet.‘”
In conclusion, if you like wildly weird and silly metafiction, DO YOURSELF A FAVOR.
For music, let’s keep going with The Unicorns (as continued from my review of The Clue of the Linoleum Lederhosen), and do “Ghost Mountain.”
Where I got it: the library