Friday, March 25, 2011

The Phantom Tollbooth

The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster was first read to me when I was probably five years old. Since then, I've read it several more times. Doesn't sound too hard? I'm the type of person who can't read a book over again unless it's been perhaps three years since the last time I read it. The glory of young adult fiction, which The Phantom Tollbooth is considered to be, is that I can read it multiple times.

If anyone simply won't read this book because it's considered young adult fiction, like for junior high kids, I'm personally going to go their their house and sock them in the face. This book is unique in more ways than I can say. Norton Juster is a total epic genius, and forever he'll have my respect.

This novel is an enigma. Is it an allegory? Is it a fairy tale novel with allegory elements? Nobody completely knows what it is, so I'll leave it at being an enigma.

Wikipedia describes the book as a "children's adventure novel", which I believe that's exactly what it is. It's full of adventure, knowledge, and content that would make a kid enjoy it. But remember, we're all kids in our own way.

The story is focused on a boy named Milo. He thinks life is dull. Everything is boring, and he doesn't care. He's just a lowly kid who can drive a car and has one in his room (that's one thing that I thought was interesting, even though he's portrayed to be in possibly fifth or sixth grade). But he doesn't care much about the car either.

One day, as he comes home from school and a day of boredom, he comes across a strange package addressed to him. In his bedroom. Yeah, the same bedroom with the car that he can drive. Inside the package was a tollbooth, some signs, and some coins. A message that came with it told him to set up the tollbooth and the signs, and drive up to it (paying a toll with one of the coins), and then go on an adventure.

Confused but bored, Milo decided to do this, and suddenly, after he paid the toll, he was in another world, driving down a road in his car. Along the way he comes across many strange places and creatures, and in all truth, his life was never the same again.

He was sent out on a mission with two friends he made along the way. Tock, a watchdog that literally had a watch built into him, and the Humbug, who actually was a giant bug, helped Milo along the way in his quest (appointed to him by Azaz, the king of Dictionopolis) to save the two princesses, Rhyme and Reason, so that rhyme and reason could literally return to this strange world known as the Kingdom of Knowledge.

The way was long and tricky, but in the end . . . I'm not going to spoil it for you!

I'll just say this book was very well written. It's full of puns and it plays on the English language a lot. Plenty often it's confusing, but the more you read it, the more you understand. Norton Juster is a complete genius, and this book will forever be a favorite.


P.S. As a side note, I lost my DSi, and the game I was playing. This pretty much means no review for that game (not too big of a deal, except I can't finish it), and I'm getting a 3DS in a few days when it comes out anyway.

Edit 02/09/12: My apologies for the postscript. It was appropriate at the time I wrote the review, but people are no longer going to find this review from reading my blog posts in order, so it's a little awkward now. :P

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