Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Stupid, Stupid Rat Creatures

It only took me a little over nine months, but last night I finished up reading Jeff Smith's Bone, the one volume edition that clocks in at over 1,300 pages. I'd originally started out reading a few pages a night, but The Busy kicked in and things slowed down. This was not Bone's fault. In short, I absolutely loved it.

The story--despite its large pockets of humor--is massively epic. It begins with the three Bone cousins: slightly aloof Smiley Bone, greedy Phoncible P. "Phoney" Bone, and the sensible one stuck between them Fone Bone. They've been run out of Boneville, with the blame falling on wannabe Mayor Phoney's shoulders. The trio ends up in a valley where they end up separated. Locust and rat creatures are chasing after them, and soon the oblivious Bone cousins are swept into a dangerous adventure to stop the Lord of the Locust from awakening.

Jeff Smith's artwork is admirable. The clash of the cartoony Bones and the medieval fantasy landscape, inhabited by more lifelike townsfolk, actually works in a way I wasn't expecting. It's charming, and by the hundredth page it's no longer even something to worry about. Bone is filled with recognizable and lovable characters, and even if some of them are a bit cliche, such as Thorn Harvestar, the farm girl that turns out to be a royal princess, but all is forgiveable. Smith knows how to write, how to pace a plot, how to make his characters emote with the lift of an eyebrow.

Oh, and Rose "Gran'ma" Ben and the Great Cow Race? Wonderful.

If you haven't checked out Bone (and I'm probably the only one late to this party), please do so now. It's completely worth the time.

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