Genre: Contemporary Fantasy/Coming of Age/Humor/Drama
“One morning 12-year-old Gregory Gourde wakes up in his bed with an impossible new feature: his head has become a watermelon. We follow Gregory down a rabbit hole of sorts to a new world and an audacious exploration of what it really means to be different in this dark yet humorous nod to Kafka’s Metamorphosis and Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland
“Frank Mundo is a full-time writer in Los Angeles. He has a BA in English from UCLA, where he also completed the Creative Writing Program. His stories, poetry, and essays have appeared in dozens of journals, magazines and anthologies in print and online… Mundo is the author of the award-winning novel in verse, The Brubury Tales(foreword by bestselling author and critic Carolyn See), a modern version of The Canterbury Tales, set in Los Angeles; and Gary, the Four-Eyed Fairy and Other Stories, an interconnected collection of his very best short stories published over the last 15 years.”
Gregory Gourde certainly does take a trip down the rabbit hole in this dark fantasy; I felt like he was skating on the edge of madness for most of this story. Surely this is not what it is like for most boys going through puberty. But the author’s prose had me convinced that it had been for him. Frank Mundo does not just throw words at the page in hopes that they stick. There is much thought put into the words he chooses and this story will leave you thinking about it long after you have finished the story. This is the sign of a true wordsmith.
The story is told through Gregory’s eyes with an omniscient narrator who pops in occasionally to move the story along or fill in past events of Gregory’s life or other characters that played an important role. This is masterfully handled by the author and gave me a chance to let things soak in. Gregory is desperately seeking sanity and consistency despite his dysfunctional family. He is a smart kid and until he embraces and accepts himself for who he really is things go awry. Especially when he is told he does not belong in this alternate reality.
This was not an easy read for me, I tend to get too involved with the characters in the stories I read. So when things do not go well for the characters I have invested in I feel their pain. That is why I try to stick with fantasy. Gregory’s problems are realistic, the manifestation of his problems are fantasy but certainly real in his mind.
The characters are beautifully written and darkly wonderful in their own way. The plot moves at a nice pace throughout the book. This is a fantastic journey of self-discovery, and I am glad I survived the trip as well as Gregory.
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Adult language and content. Not for children.
The artwork included in this story is excellent, it adds a dimension not usually found in books. I read this on my Paperwhite and the images came across beautifully.
Added for Reprise Review: Different by Frank Mundo was a nominee in the Fantasy category for B&P 2014 Readers’ Choice Awards. Original review ran December 31, 2013.
I found no significant errors.
Rating: ***** Five Stars
Reviewed by: ?wazithinkin
Approximate word count: 30-35,000 words