Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Book Review: Goop Soup

Goop Soup by David Lubar

"A book worth reading only in childhood is not worth reading even then." C. S. Lewis, Of Other Worlds: Essays and Stories p. 38--this quote was at the beginning of this book!

ZPAA rating

8 year olds and up.

Gore level

2 out of 10--The goop in the title shows up pretty early as green slime in the water pipes. Green slime shows up in a bunch of other places, including the climatic action. Nathan removes a limb to help at one point. Less gross than the last one, which was less gross than the first book.

Other offensive content

Lying, speeding, roughing up of a character, using potent body odors for plot devices and other minor misdemeanors.

How much zombie mythology/content

Our hero is still the same old zombie, though the scientists at BUM are acknowledging that there's more to what he is than science can explain.

How much fun

While not as enjoyable as the first two books, this is still a fun, quick read that makes you smile and keeps you interested. The plot takes a little while to get going and the ending is a little too over the top even for the suspension of disbelief you give an accidental zombie.

Synopsis & Review

SPOILER IF YOU HAVEN'T READ THE SECOND BOOK: Nathan has begun working with the Bureau of Useful Misadventures (BUM) to fulfill his dream of being a hero (isn't that what we all dream of?).

Nathan starts training for his first full mission with BUM. His contact, Peter Murphy, attempts to teach him important skills like following without being noticed, picking locks, and playing dead. You would think the last would be natural for Nathan, given his zombified state, but isn't as easy as it seems. Like all heroes in training, he fails early on in the basic tasks.

A much more difficult task he faces is a doctor's appointment where he has to convince the doctor that he's alive. Both the people at BUM and his school friends (Abigail and Mookie) want to help him but with very different approaches.

Meanwhile, the green slime/goop of the title starts showing up in all the faucets and water-based products (the school cafeteria serves the title's Goop Soup). The distressing phenomena eventually tie into Nathan's BUM mission.

As I mentioned above, the book is an enjoyable read. Like the last volume, the story is a little slow at the beginning but starts coming together nicely. The reader doesn't recognize immediately how things will tie together. A lot of the interest is centered around Nathan's relationships to his parents, his contacts at BUM and his school friends. His parents love him but without knowing his condition, they cause problems. After he injures his foot, his mom insists on taking him to the doctor. The people at BUM want to use him as a spy and push hard to get him to do what they want. His school friends want to help him get through on his own terms but don't know best how to do that. A nice relationship develops between a BUM doctor and Abigail, Nathan's nerdy scientist school friend, so the characters aren't as cut and dried (read, "one dimensional") as they are in other popular fiction.

The book includes a chapter from the next book and a reader's guide with study questions and activities.

Sample Text

On the enemy of BUM, starting with their acronym and working it out from there (p. 30):

[Mr. Murphy:]"RABID. Raise Anarchy by Inciting Disorder. They're dedicated to destroying freedom and democracy."
"That's a long, boring, and complicated story, Nathan. To tell the truth, politics often doesn't make much sense. And even when it makes sense, it can be quite depressing. I'll give you the short version. They want absolute power and total control. That can't happen as long as people are free."
I thought about that for a moment. Even though Mr. Murphy felt it was too complicated for me, it sounded sort of familiar. Power and control. Any fifth-grader knew all about that. "So, really, what they are is bullies," I said. Or gym teachers.

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