Thursday, 6 September 2012

Muddle and Win by John Dickinson

Muddle and Win: The Battle for Sally JonesPublisher: David Fickling Books
Format: ARC
Published: 30th August 2012
Number of Pages: 240
Book: For Review*
Genre: Humour, Paranormal, Fantasy, Action-Adventure, Pre-Teen, Middlegrade, YA, YA-Child Crossover
Recommended Age: 9+
Contains: Violence, Demony Death
No Alcohol, Drug References
Author's Blog: John Dickinson

“The angel towered over him.  In its rock-steady hands it gripped a great bassoon, with the mouth pointed right between Muddlespot’s eyes.
‘Say your prayers, creep,’ said the angel.  ‘Oh, I forgot – you people don’t, do you?’”

What if your every thought was disputed by opposing forces of good and evil – by an angel wearing Ray-bans and a demon called Muddlespot?
Sally Jones is Good.  And Muddlespot, newly promoted to special agent, is on a mission to make her Bad.  If he doesn’t it will be Very Bad for him.  But as he infiltrates Sally’s mind, all becomes unclear.  Just what does it mean to be good?  And can it be good to be bad?

You know how you can read a book and even though you weren't really expecting to, you loved every second?  When it's one of those books that has that magic, that spark, that just reminds you so much of when you were young and innocent and everything was absolute magic?  Muddle and Win was that book for me.  I'm not going to say it’ll be that way for everyone or that it's a perfect, flawless read, but it just had a spark I've not seen in kids books for ages.  It's funny, witty, quirky, exceptionally written and just so amazing.  Kids and parents alike will gobble it up.  It's the best kids fiction I've read since Roald Dahl and Lemony Snickett. 
"The object of Mission Alpha was..."
"Sally Jones."
Just like any good story, Muddle and Win is about the battle between good and evil.  In this battle, just one person could tilt the balance.  This person is Sally Jones, who has thousands of Good Deeds and nada Bad ones. 
Sally is definitely Good.  But she needs to be Bad, Bad, Bad if Hell is going to have a shot. 
That's why Muddlespot, a wart-turned-imp-turned-Agent-of-Evil, is sent to turn Sally Bad, to stop her streak of endless good deeds and maybe throw in a few naughty ones. 
If he fails?  Well, it will be Very, Very Bad for him and the cleaners will have a verrryy tough job getting rid of his body... bits. 
His job isn't helped by the presence of one of Heaven's best, Agent Windleberry, an angel in Ray-bans and a tuxedo, who is determined to keep Sally exactly as she is - Good. 
Let The Battle For Sally Jones begin...
I've never read anything by Dickinson before (I don't think...) but from the moment I saw this book in all its marvellously odd glory, I knew I just had to read it.  And from the very first page, I knew it wouldn't let me down.  Deliciously bad and criminally fun, Muddle and Win is a story all children and teens - and their parents too - will just love.  It's witty, clever, addictive and so much fun, even while it makes you question what's good and what's bad, and whether being Good is always the right thing...  To sum this up, I loved Muddle and Win to pieces!  It's just so brilliantly quirky!
I just adored all Dickinson's characters!  Muddlespot...  Oh, I almost never root for the 'villains', but I couldn't resist Muddlespot!  He wasn't really all that evil - in fact, he felt kinda innocent.  Well, y'know, for a demon.  Needless to say, I never thought I'd love a former wart so much!  Windleberry kinda reminded me of a '20s or maybe '70s (I'm not good with 1900s time periods) cop or gangsta person, what with the tux, glasses and what-not.  He was your poster-boy angel - except for a tiny blip where he advised his charge to "hack" someone's shins...  Long story - funny, but long!  Sally Jones was like an angel: helped her mum, covered for her twin Billie, there fore everyone...  But I loved her spirit - especially inner-Sally, who was funny and snarky.  All the minor-ish characters were brilliant too - I loved Ismael and Scattletail, Billie's angel and demon, who'd come to an agreement and played card games to see who'd get to choose Billie's next action!  But my favourite had to be Shades, Sally's amoral cat who loved to beg and steal and be worshiped!  He just stole the show for me!
I absolutely adored Dickinson's writing - it was so much fun and so marvellously bonkers.  And wonderfully descriptive - I saw everything in my head.  It was just the kinda writing you could read forever.  It's all child friendly, but there's a little humour just for the adults in there too!  The plot was your standard good vs evil with a barmy twist!  It did the battle in its own unique, quirky way.  I just loved the mad, addictive, funny plot, and it was so the kind you can (and I did) gobble up in a single sitting. 
The Hell world, Pandemonium, was just so amazingly described.  Even though the general idea of Hell wasn't stunningly unique, the way of getting there really was.  I loved that the way into Pandemonium was equal parts funny and scary!  As for Heaven, I loved how suits were the official clothes and how weapons were musical instruments and how everyone said "Yay, verily"!  Oh, and the descriptions of minds and how they differ based on the person's personality was just brilliant.  Kids will just love the worlds thanks to the vivid imagery.  Parents will love them because of the quirky and genius nature.  
Now, this book was loads of fun to read, but it also made you think about good and bad.  About expectations and how it affects people - and all this without making a huge yell of it.  Personally, I think Dickinson is a genius in that department!
Muddle and Win was a brilliant, bonkers, funny, quirky book that was so much fun to read and even more additive.  I read it in one sitting, gobbling it up and unable to put it down.  A story or unlikely heroes, angels vs demons and whether being a little bad can be good, Muddle and Win is just a must read for everyone, be you young or not-so-young, male or female!

Star Rating:
4½ Out of 5

Read this book if you liked:
Anything by Roald Dahl
The Giggler Treatment by Roddy Doyle
The Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snickett

Challenges It's Taking Part In:

Happy Reading
* This book was received from Random House in exchange for an honest review

1 comment:

serendipity_viv said...

What a gorgeous review. I must read this one soon. Your enthusiasm is spilling over.