I am a lucky woman. By almost any metric, that's me, Lady Lucky. I can walk under ladders.
One of the ways in which I am lucky is that there are about five authors out there whose work is just exactly what I want to read. I can go to those authors and always always be surprised and moved. Gibson. Liz Jensen. Nick Harkaway. Charlie Higson. Ian Fleming (but that's more of a sick obsession). And by "always always" I mean - no duds. No books that make me go "ehhh." Neal Stephenson for example. Love everything he's written either side of the Baroque Trilogy, but those three books made my eyes roll back into my head, and so he doesn't make this list.
What I'm getting at - obviously - is that Adam Rex does. I don't know what is similar in our backgrounds or genetics or whatever, but his imagination travels paths that seem enticing and familiar to me - as if they are paths that I glimpsed once from a passing car and wished I had the time to detour into. His humor makes me laugh out loud on trains and in bars.
Which is why I can't review his latest book, Unlucky Charms, the second in The Cold Cereal Saga. This author speaks so clearly to me that I can't tell how he sounds to other people. I can't be objective while I'm giggling out my nose. Luckily, I have a couple of clear-eyed readers in my house who can be relied upon to give you the what when I can't. Here's Milo:
Now, I admit I read the ARC of Unlucky Charms as soon as I snagged it at ALA Midwinter, and I admit I was going to pass it to Milo as soon as I got home, and I further admit than when this hardcover came in the mail - pretty much before I got home, thank you someone at Harper! - Milo grabbed at it as if he were a magnet and it was made of paperclips, but let me tell you, Milo is not a man who will allow preconceptions to influence his appreciation of a book.
So when he tells you it is funny and brave and awesome - you better believe it. Available Feb 5.
PS: Good lord I have written yet ANOTHER review of something involving Adam Rex in which I forgot to mention the art! How do I keep doing that? Adam Rex is supernaturally talented as an artist. His illustrations are the kind that kids pore over, looking for clues, soaking up the visual realization of scenes they have already mentally assembled from the author's words.
They exhibit charm, draftsmanship, and a particular genius for realistic expression, facilitated I believe by his habit of sculpting little heads and using them as models. I like to think he mounts those heads on tiny plaques and hangs them on the wall when he's finished - a miniature hall of horrors. Maybe he talks to them, they're like a Greek chorus when he's stuck on a drawing. "Make him fatter," grunts Frankenstein. "With bigger eyebrows!" yells Grandpa Ned. "What is that sweater about?" snipes Barnett.
This art, by the way, is not something I am worried I'm biased about. I know art, and I'll borrow a technical term from art criticism here and call it GOOD. It's GOOD ART.
Buy this book, buy all his previous books. Support him so that he can keep feeding my habit, and I swear you will thank me for it.