As much as I’ve thought about it, I’m still finding it difficult to see how I can possibly do justice to the imaginative, wonderful, glorious feat of writing that is Toonopolis. Jeremy Rodden has taken the best and worst of a range of things that were dear to us in our childhoods (but probably drove our parents crackers) and remain endearing to us now as – even though we are allegedly adults – we prove ourselves to be simply bigger kids.
Toonopolis is like putting on a time travelling fluffy dressing gown covered in fairies or footballs that transports you to every Saturday morning of your youth and adolescence and every snatched moment of your adulthood where you pretended you weren’t watching Dungeons and Dragons, Donald Duck or Thundercats but were secretly loving every minute. It encapsulates the lack of logic that surrounds not only cartoons but also video games and how willing we are to suspend disbelief in our quest for entertainment but also shows how, when we are willing to do that, things can be much much more enjoyable.
As a ‘grown up’ who readily admits to recently watching all 80 episodes of Batfink, wiling away hours on World of Warcraft and loving Studio Ghibli, there are some cringing moments in the book for me. Not, let me hasten to add, that I’m cringing at the author’s work: absolutely NOT. Instead, I’m cringing at myself. Yep, I’ve spent that Saturday morning killing rats in a basement in a quest similar to one Gemini is offered. I’ve built up a party that – whilst it seemed logical at the time – had as much sense to it as Gemini’s band of merry men (including talking Eggplant, mechanical dog and Miss Fire). And I’ve loved every minute.
Toonopolis is a bundle of fun but it does have some serious underlying messages to it too, including the importance of not leaping to conclusions without all the facts and the necessity of accepting yourself rather than constantly trying to fight against what or who you are. Additionally, it has an ending that raises many questions and leaves you wondering, thoughtful and wanting more. Thankfully this is only book one of the Toonopolis Files so we can share a cheer that there’s more of this wonderful world to encounter.
How can you not love a book that is, in essence, an Alice in Wonderland for the modern era? Or in which distance is measured in PEZ candies? Or where the author paradoxically uses an impressive and varied vocabulary so deftly to tell a story that makes you feel young enough to have a spelling book again? This is a book for everyone who accepts that as logical as they may think they are, there’s still a bit of the illogical rebellious Saturday morning slob in them. And really, it’s a book for all those people who aren’t like that because, by the end of it, they will be.