2 out of 4 stars
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Billy, the titular eight-year-old boy from Leigh Parker's Billy and the Bogloids: The Magic of Caymar, had a pretty sweet life until the day his parents divorced. Suddenly he no longer has his Dad around and his mom becomes an alcoholic who frequently yells at him. Things were looking terribly bleak until one day a woman named Mrs. Daley comes by wondering why Billy hasn't been in school lately. She notices the terrible conditions of both Billy's home and his mother and takes him away to be cared for in a foster home. While the home is much nicer, he's bullied in school. One day, as he's hiding from bullies in the school bathroom, a 2-foot-tall purple creature comes up the toilet and tells Billy that he's here to help him! Bintar, the purple creature, is a Bogloid and takes Billy with him through the toilet to his world, Caymar.
Caymar is a magical, friendly place, and it's been host to numerous people who are facing hardships in their lives. Billy ends up meeting several other Bogloids and a friendly giant spider named Sangkawi, all of whom teach him life lessons in their own unique ways. However, Billy isn't the only one in need of help - Caymar is being attacked by chaotic creatures called Sentos who smeak in and steal the Rantan fruit off the Rantan trees. Unfortunately, these Rantan fruit are the source of Bogloid magic, and as more and more fruits are stolen their magic and the environment begin to deteriorate.
The book has an interesting way of blending two plots into one - Billy's need to gain confidence and deal with bullies meeting the disaster of Sentos stealing Rantan fruit and ruining Caymar. There are moments where the book shines, particularly the ending and how Billy sometimes feels like the eight-year-old boy that he is. However, there are also times when Billy throws around some vocabulary I'd never expect out of someone his age, and I found most of the other characters to be a little too forgettable. I had to refer back to my notes every time Bintar, Johar and Rambutin (the three main Bogloids) were mentioned to remember which was which, and none of them were particularly strong characters. Sangkawi, the giant spider, was easily the best of the Caymarian characters, with her playful-yet-sweet ways. She felt like half-friend, half-mother-figure.
The plot and worldbuilding suffer issues as well. The writing always seemed to focus on the wrong things - some scenes that should have led quickly to the next were given whole paragraphs whereas those that would set a scene or discuss more interesting things were typically far too short. The writing is also incredibly verbose, so much so that I sometimes ended up confused by the end of it all. My eyes frequently wanted to jump over whole sentences at a time since I already knew what was happening.
I was also a little confused about who the book is intended for. The book is over 100 pages long and has only a few illustrations, meaning it's not for young children, but the plot and eight-year-old main character seem aimed more at that age group. The book is also riddled with grammatical errors that made it hard for me as an adult at times let alone a pre-teen. Finally, while it's more minor, I didn't understand why dialogue was done with single quotes (') instead of the standard double quotes (").
Billy and the Bogloids: The Magic of Caymar had a lot of potential, and it showed from time to time. Unfortunately, it still feels like it needs a lot of editing, both for rewording and for grammatical errors. I wouldn't be surprised if the 120 page book could be cut down to under 100 with some solid editing, and it would be all the better for it. As it is, my official rating is 2 out of 4 stars.
Billy and The Bogloids
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