I was looking forward to this book. In general I find reading young adult novels to be a breath of fresh air and I was hoping that The Song of the Quarkbeast would live up to its press as a magical adventure with a bit of nerdy wordplay.
Young Jennifer Strange, a foundling, is left in charge of Kazam, the more ethical of the two companies that perform magic.
Their newly renamed competitor iMagic is up to no good, manipulating King Snodd into ordering a contest between the wizards of both companies; the losers to merge with the winning agency.
Jennifer expects to win, that is until they begin losing sorcerers to Runix powered spells and trumped up magical misdemeanours.
The search for magical allies results in the revelation that nefarious plans are afoot.
Initially I liked the word play, the short tangents away from the movement of the story, and the jokes or allusions that might escape younger readers.
I usually give a novel 25 % of its length, or about 100 pages to hook me in, some novels require an adjustment due to style. I found that by a third of the way through The Song of the Quarkbeast, I wasn’t. The witty wordplay and divergent descriptions began to feel overdone and I longed for the story to pick up pace.
I also had issues with Jennifer. She seemed to me to be a bit wooden, perhaps standoffish – I didn’t feel she was a convincing 16 year old girl.
My 15 year old self would have liked this book, it was reminiscent of Douglas Adams and the sense of humour that produced the Deeper Meaning of Liff, but even then I think I might also have had an issue with the pacing.
I am hesitant to recommend it to all but the hard-core book nerds amongst the teen population, those who will find endless amusement in descriptions of the history, characters, oddities of the Kingdom of Hereford and who have the ability to make the connection with their real world equivalents.
I struggled to enjoy this one.