This Book is Not Good for You by Pseudonymous Bosch

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This Book is Not Good for You by Pseudonymous Bosch

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Buy This Book is Not Good for You by Pseudonymous Bosch at Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com

Category: Confident Readers
Rating: 3.5/5
Reviewer: John Lloyd
Reviewed by John Lloyd
Summary: If this book only does one thing for a young reader, it convinces them chocolate could be bad.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 416 Date: February 2010
Publisher: Usborne Publishing
ISBN: 978-1409506317

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Cass is not having the best of time when it comes to secrets. It's all very well being involved in a top-secret society, designed to keep the secret of the most secretive secret ever, but those pesky people called adults are keeping things from her as well - namely, her very origins. Can Max-Ernest and she wade through their junk store base and find the box she was delivered in? Can they survive the mysterious clown school they end up visiting? And can they keep a mystical tuning fork from falling into the wrong hands?

Yes, their enemies are cropping up for a third time, and once again they will have to spend the second half of the book literally in the lion's den, as again a well-envisioned environment of evil has to be countered. Here it's all in aid of the said tuning fork, which has magical properties to convert anything a chef cooks up with it into anything he might wish. And when the cook is nasty, and has a production line of lip-smackingly gorgeous chocolate (tested on prisoners, of course), this is just too much power being wielded by the wrong people.

A lot that is familiar from the first two books in this series is here - especially the narrator, looking over his shoulder, breaking away to talk to us about what he is telling us - and what he is not. He even starts here with chapter 15 first, as an amuse-bouche. The characters are just as strong as before - the gutsy, survivalist skills of Cass, the encyclopaedia (and hypochondria) of Max-Ernest. The returning cast are given a greater balance, and with the extra plot Cass has to worry about, there is a fully rounded adventure.

Unfortunately for me, at the third time of asking, there did not seem to be too much that was entirely fresh. The quirks of Mr Bosch were not adding too much - the footnotes generally just got in the way. The way a gang of five baddies had their speech scattered across the page instead of given in a regular presentation seemed tired.

Also the plot - as strong, convoluted and compellingly portrayed as ever - did have too many similarities for me to the first book, in structure. Max-Ernest loses his hobbies that made the previous two books distinctive. And ultimately, despite the set-up referring to one of those super-trendy, posh blacked-out 'blind' restaurants, the quirky elements of the plot - tuning fork, magical bird, over-arching power yielded through chocolate - faded too much away, and left the second half just a straight action story.

I will be back for what is suggested might be the fourth and final adventure. The secrets here are too strong, the writing generally too clever, the story-telling generally too sprightly and exciting for me to dismiss the series, despite this, which I do definitely feel is a weak link in the cycle.

Not Good for You? I wouldn't so far, but it wasn't as great as the others - it's only coming from such esteemed heights this could possibly be called anything like a major let-down, but my Bookbag rating for it considers both the over-familiarity for returning fans, and the imperfect place this is for newcomers to start the series.

I must thank Usborne's kind people for my review copy.

The second book in the series is reviewed here. For younger readers interested in adventures based on magical-seeming food science and posh cuisine, there is Madame Pamplemousse and Her Incredible Edibles by Rupert Kingfisher. For a circus beginning for a young man who ends up battling the baddies in outlandish arenas of the world, we recommend The Palace of Laughter by Jon Berkeley.

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Buy This Book is Not Good for You by Pseudonymous Bosch at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy This Book is Not Good for You by Pseudonymous Bosch at Amazon.com.

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