Sunday, November 26, 2006

The Nobodies, by N. E. Bode (Julianna Baggott)

Julianna Baggott
Book #06-148

As an Anybody (a person with magical talents), Fern has gotten used to the strange things she is able to do, especially when it comes to shaking things out of books. When it comes to shaking an endless stream of Diet Lime Fizzy drink bottles stuffed with messages from "the Nobodies," however, Fern is more than a little taken aback. And when she and Howard (the boy with whom she was switched as an infant) end up at Camp Happy Sunshine Good Times, where all the counselors drink Diet Lime Fizzy and the camp is exactly the opposite of happy, Fern knows she must do something to save the day.

THE NOBODIES is the sequel to Baggott's previous book, THE ANYBODIES, but it's a rather jumbled, incoherent effort. The author's note in the beginning is reminiscent of the best of Lemony Snicket, but the humor in the actual story seems heavy-handed. The physical oddities of the campers never get explained satisfactorily, and a lot of other plot points are abandoned along the way.

The final chapters are among the best, as Baggott reverts to what worked so well in the first book, drawing on her love of books to propel the action and introduce new characters. Alas, the technique comes so late in the story that it isn't enough to compensate for the mishmash that precedes it. A third book would be worth a read, but it would be a make-or-break volume for the series for most readers.

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