Posted by Venus on Monday, July 13, 2015
Labels: intermediate book review
Publisher: Fiewel & Friends
Release Date: May 5, 2015
Martin Moone needs a decent wingman. Surrounded by crazy sisters and even crazier parents, it is Martin's best mate Padraic who suggests Martin get himself an imaginary friend--or 'IF' for short. So Martin takes the imaginary catalog for IFs, circles his choice, buries it in the backyard, and awaits his new friend. His first attempt is a Loopy Lou, a hyperactive goofy baffoon who writes terrible rap songs and annoys Martin to no end. So Martin decides to trade in Loopy Lou for a better model. Skipping normal procedure, Martin decides to make the imaginary office clerk who shows up to survey him, his new IF. Nevermind that the clerk doesn't have an actual license to operate as an IF. Things get a bit dodgy with the clerk though, because he may be an okay wingman but he isn't so great at protecting Martin from bullies. Worse yet, Loopy Lou is still hanging around Martin's imagination and he has plans to have the clerk, newly renamed Sean "Caution" Murphy, evicted.
A stunningly witty story, I was entirely entranced by this Irish tale of one boy and his imaginary friends. Chris O'Dowd who I was already familiar with from The IT Crowd, has written a laugh-out-loud funny story that puts a new spin on what imagination is about. What I wasn't aware of is that there are three seasons of a show (on Hulu+) by the same title that feels much like an Irish version of Malcolm in the Middle. This book takes a different path though, using some of the same stories from the show, but expanding on the who, what, where and whys to having an IF.
And I absolutely love the whats and the whys. I loved the imaginary catalog, especially when Martin digs up half the yard looking for it again and then runs into the house screaming about how he found it. His parents are understandably disturbed, but chalk the whole thing up to kids going stir crazy during summer vacation. Included in the book are helpful footnotes for terms that are usually, although not always, Irish. I have seen some people complain about this as it brings them out of the story, but it worked very well in the audio book.
I think there are two yellow flags for the more sensitive readers. The first was when Martin offered a squeeze of his sister's boobs in exchange for bully protection. Although this is entirely disrespectful, what it really was meant to do was point out how little Martin truly understands about girls. Don't worry, Martin's sisters stand their own in the exchange. There was also a bit of language in the book, which was surprising as the age range seemed like upper elementary school if that didn't exist. However, after speaking to a friend or two about this, it seems that a word like 'arse' isn't really much of a curse word in Ireland, not like we think of the word 'ass'.
Slightly irreverent, goofy, a bit clueless, and a lot imaginative, this one is for those who love books with idiot kids and their equally stupid imaginary friends.