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Leven Thumps and the Gateway to Foo: 02/25/15

cover art

My husband heard about Leven Thumps and the Gateway to Foo by Obert Skye and was curious to read it. As we had a road trip coming up, I borrowed the audio version, performed by E.B. Stevens (the narrator of the Fablehaven audio books).

The book is about three refugees from the land of Foo who together can either be the land's salvation or its destruction. In comic book fashion, we're given three origin stories to see how the three unlikely heroes have ended up in Burnt Culvert, Oklahoma. Most of the book is spent in uniting these three before they can set off on the quest to stop the Foovian hell bent on giving all of Foo a chance to return to Earth.

The titular character is Leven, an orphan left in the care of his mother's half sister and her lazy husband. Winter is a changeling, left in the care of a mother not at all interested in being a parent. No mention is made as to the fate of exchanged baby. Finally, there's Geth (who Stevens pronounces as Gef), once a king and now through the power of "Fate", a walking, talking tooth pick.

There are a number of distractions with this book. As this is an audio, the first and foremost, is the performance. I'm not a fan of Stevens's odd over enunciation of words or how often he mispronounces words.

Secondly, there's there's the over use of FATE. Throughout the book Leven and Winter are reluctant to blindly follow the orders of Clover — a catlike creature who is somewhere between a house elf and Jar Jar Binks. Yes, he's that annoying, and yes, I was imagining all sorts of painful fates for him. Anyway, whenever Leven or Winter don't want to listen, Clover and Geth sit back and smugly tell them to trust in FATE. And of course, FATE steps in, because it is the deus ex machina of the book for every single time the author writes himself into a corner.

As FATE is the ten thousand pound gorilla in this fantasy, there's not much room left for bravery or bravado on the part of either Leven or Winter. All these characters have to do is be transported from point A to point B. Leven is especially prone to just being carted around — at times being frozen and at other times, drugged by Clover.

Finally there's Foo. This is the land of dreams, where people who are unlucky enough to be at a crossroads under extraordinary circumstances, are sucked into Foo. While those who come out of Foo describe it as the most wonderful and important place ever, I am tempted to side with Sabine who was one of these stolen children and wants nothing but to get back home — even if it means destroying Foo in the process.

Foo is by no means Oz. For Foo being such a monumentally important place (fostering the creativity and hope of mankind) and for being such a potentially dangerous place (world destruction if it's destroyed), why does it have such a stupid sounding name? Seriously, Foo?

Three stars

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