Eight-year-old Murgatroyd Floyd doesn't fit in - not as a blue-eyed blonde living in Singapore, not in school, and certainly not with his aloof expatriate parents, who seem determined to make his life even harder. Unbeknownst to him, there's a reason why he's always the odd boy out: he is an Oddfit, a rare type of human with access to the More Known World, a land invisible to most people. Yet unfortunate circumstances keep Murgatroyd stranded in the Known World, bumbling through life with the feeling that an extraordinary something is waiting for him just beyond reach.
Seventeen years later, that something finally arrives when a secret organization dedicated to exploring the More Known World invites Murgatroyd on a mission. But as the consummate loser begins to grow into the Oddfit he was meant to be, the Known World becomes bent on exterminating him. For once in his underachieving life, will Murgatroyd Floyd exceed expectations and outsmart those trying to thwart his stupendous destiny?
©2016 Tiffany Tsao (P)2015 Brilliance Audio, Inc.
Willy Wonka of it
The book was charming and well-written. The dialogue was decent to good and the characters were likable. The problem though, is that this story spends far too long plodding toward what you would assume to be the beginning of the tale. You are treated to long, mundane conversations. Everything is so verbose that it can be hard to figure out what's important.
On the flip side, everything that transpires does have bearing on the story and conclusion, however it's just barely enough to make a difference, and certainly not enough to have dwelled on for so long.
With some editing, this could be far more enjoyable.
I have never been to Singapore. I lived in Hong Kong many years ago and may have picked up the disdain for what many there viewed as their much lesser cousin. Nor have I ever really known a Singapore native. My knowledge of the island nation is based on general reading and occasional chats with people who have travelled there for one purpose or another, returning with complaints of high prices, stifling heat, and equally stifling sociopolitical regimentation. I have deliberately avoided looking up Ms. Tsao's biography (I'll do that after I finish this review), because I desperately want to IMAGINE her as a Singapore local, whatever the truth of the matter. Whether it's real or not, the nation she describes is alive, colorful, vibrant, exciting, even when viewed largely from the point of view of a character who does not and can never fit in. Early in the book there is a description--it must run to several pages in print--of the diversity and quality of Singapore's food, and the extent of the population's love for it, whose lavish, evocative detail reminds me of Flaubert in its execution. Think, for instance, of the description of the young Charles Bovary at the beginning of Flaubert's debut novel and you'll get a sense of the best of Tsao's prose. Incidentally, the hapless protagonist, the "oddfit" of the title, himself bears some resemblance to poor Dr. Bovary.
Like many of the best works of fantasy, this novel might with equal justification be ascribed to another genre pigeonhole, in this case magical realism. I will not go into the plot--to my mind, the value of this novel lies primarily in character and setting. It is serviceable, though I think it ends a bit abruptly and arbitrarily. The reading is generally excellent. Mr. Evers-Swindell's third-person narrations suggest to me that he is Australian, but his character voices deploy a wide range of accents to good effect, as one would hope for the audiobook of a novel set in cosmopolitan Singapore. I can't vouch for the authenticity of all of them, but I have a good ear, and most sound plausible to me. In my mind, I can now picture each character quite clearly, mannerisms and all.
As I said, I haven't yet googled Ms. Tsao, but if I'm right that this is her first novel, then I hope I can look forward to many more.
I found that it was difficult to figure out what was going on but once I did, I The Oddfits a fascinating story that drew me on until the end. I'd recommend Oddfits to friends that like quirky little books like this one.
I loved this extraordinarily intelligent and utterly charming urban fantasy which gently sweeps you into it's orbit and keeps you there moving through wonder, sadness, anger, joy and delight with some pretty sweaty palms as it approaches its ending. The narration is absolutely masterful. The wonderful main character, Mugratroyd/Shwet Fu will remain in your heart long after the novel has ended. I have read other reviews that refer to the story as long winded, verbose and drawn out but in my view it is the detailed scenes and conversations that may not do a lot to progress the story but where the book's true beauty is to be found.
The Oddfits defies description: coming of age story? Science fiction? Young adult? As an almost senior citizen who avoids scifi I found this tale delightful, thought-provoking and funny. Since I've also lived four years in Singapore as an expat I relished the familiar names, food and locales in the story. Highly recommend this out-of-the-box tale.
The performance & character voices were great, but the actual story moved much too slowly. I listened and read using whisper-sync. There was too much mundane dialogue could eat up 30 minutes of listening with out moving the story forward. I stopped the story at about 35% into it
Huntress of Dirty Socks
After I read a book like this I always tend to feel like one of the unwashed masses who wouldn't be able to recognize good literature if it bit me in the butt.
On one hand, so much of The Oddfits is sheer poetry, especially the descriptions of food. The language is well done and I enjoyed the character development. I found everything written about Singapore and its people so very interesting.
On the other hand, so much of this story is oppressive and almost gratuitous fairy-tale cruelty that I found it difficult to get through to the end.
I wanted to love it and I do see the great talent of the author -- but her plot! It was merciless. Endless repressive actions against a character too clueless to see them for anything other than offerings of pure, sweet love. I repeatedly had to put it down.
The only reason I finished it was because I felt like something was wrong with me if I didn't like it. Like I was missing the whole point, missing the deep message everyone else but me could see.
I began to wish for my own Quest just to escape the tyranny of getting to the end. And in that way, I was finally able to identify with Shwet Fu, but only in the last pages.
(But really? I think it was just my relief that I was done.)
This is one of my favorite audiobooks I've listened to. The narrator, coupled with the bizarre writing style made it a fun, relaxing read that was intriguing enough to capture my thoughts even when I wasn't listening to it. I am considering sharing it with my book club.
I loved the irony that was displayed throughout the story. There was a lot, maybe too much, character development - which was appropriate in this tale of strange people. You really get to know how they are all thinking and why there are doing what they do.
He had great accents and enthusiasm.
Humor in a VERY-twisted sense,but an interesting
Plot ... Sometimes horrid situations do eventually make sense...
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