3 out of 4 stars
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If you enjoy a story that belongs inside the box, then this one is not for you. This one steps over the line of what is conventional, and then erases the line completely. In Of Zots and Xoodles, the author, Zarquon the Embarrassed, has taken his perspective of the beginning of the universe and put it into the most basic of formats: dots and lines. In his story, Theodil is under scrutiny as he begins the process of universe creation. He painstakingly sets his dots and lines into motion, turning them into what he names Zots and Xoodles. This is his base for all things that will be created. Simple, right? If you still have no idea what I’m talking about, then I think you understand more than I do.
This book was interesting and confusing, thought-provoking and whimsical. I am hoping that by the end of my review, I may have settled on a rating because, as of now, I still have no idea where my mind is!
Let us start with the positives. The book consists of both text and illustrations. The illustrations are there to support the narrative, which, at times, borders on nonsensical. They are doodle-like images that have been simply laid out in order to make sense of what is (in a roundabout way) being described by the author. They made the book enjoyable and broke up the hectic writing.
As far as the negatives are concerned, I’m not sure what I consider sheer brilliance and what I consider complete lunacy. The author interrupts deep scientific musings to contemplate completely arbitrary ones - like being at a turtle-stacking convention. He has also invented a few words such as trimary and Spungic. These words are strewn throughout the book and intermingle with real scientific jargon. It was a bit of a chore to look up so many unknown words and to have most of them mean absolutely nothing.
All of these thoughts aside, this was a quick read at only 35 pages, so it was easy to get through, and then get through again. I picked up a lot of things that I originally missed when reading it a second time around. After weighing the pros and cons, I have come to a rating of 3 out of 4 stars. I don’t think I will ever fully grasp the quirky style of this book, which is why I have decided to deduct a star. I would recommend it to people who enjoy different takes on the creation of the universe, as well as people who enjoy being challenged by outright idiosyncratic notions.
Of Zots and Xoodles
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