Journey to the Blue Moon

Journey to the Blue MoonBy Rebecca Rupp [LibraryThingAmazon]

Ever since he lost his grandfather’s pocket watch with its mysterious inscription, Choose time or lose time, Alex has been in what you might call a funk. Time seems to be racing past him too fast, and since it all ends eventually, he thinks, why even bother? That is, until a strange old woman tells him to look for his watch on the blue moon, where all lost things go.

Once Alex and his dog Zeke hitch a ride on a spaceship piloted by three-foot-tall moon rats, he teams up with Tetley, the runt of the moon rats, plus Miss Mumsley, a prim suffragette who has lost her heart, and Simon, an Elizabethan math nerd who has lost his way. From there he has three days to find his lost watch before the moon ceases to be blue and he’s trapped there indefinitely. The companions must navigate through weird allegorical locations like the Inn of Abandoned Plans, the Pointless Tower, and the Cave of Lost Tempers, while avoiding the Time Eaters, who do exactly what their name implies. Complicating things is Urd, youngest of the Norns (Shakespeare’s Weird Sisters, similar to the Greek Fates), who wants to steal everyone’s time to keep herself eternally youthful.

Journey to the Blue Moon is, essentially, the poor man’s Phantom Tollbooth. It’s the same premise of a listless, dissatisfied little boy being transported somewhat inexplicably to a bizarre world and traversing it with a motley group of companions. Blue Moon lacks the whimsy of Tollbooth, not to mention a lot of the cleverness, but it’s a fun, light ride nonetheless.

The book’s biggest problem is Alex himself. He’s an Everyboy Hero, and it’s all-too-easy for that type to fall into the trap of being a cipher. Alex does very little in the course of the book, and he doesn’t have much in the way of personality. He accepts the fact that he’s flying to the moon in a steampunk spaceship piloted by rats with essentially no hesitation. He overcomes the obstacles that crop up along the journey with little difficulty (or his dog takes care of it). We don’t even learn exactly why his grandfather’s watch was so important to him. Alex’s parents don’t understand him; a short scene showing that his grandfather did would have been enough to make Alex seem more like a person. Alex needed to be the book’s solid ground, and to do that he needed a personality. Without that the whole thing becomes vastly forgettable.

The choice of theme is also an odd one, all things considered. Alex is concerned because time seems to be running out too fast. But time doesn’t run fast for kids – it runs slow. Think back to your own childhood: didn’t Friday take forever to come? Weren’t Christmases eons apart? A reminder not to squander time means a lot to me, old woman that I am, but how many 11-year-olds would feel the same way?

The book did have its charms. I loved Miss Mumsley and enjoyed watching romance bloom between her and Simon. I liked the hint of mythology brought by the Norns and the moon goddess Selena, although I would have liked to have seen more of it, and I always enjoy stories about characters journeying to places where all lost things eventually end up. I especially liked that the exact nature of the old woman who sends Alex on his journey was never fully explicated – it never hurts to leave a bit of mystery in the mix. And the end was very sweet and, I will admit, got me a little misty, although as I’m the type to cry at long-distance commercials, that may not be saying much.

Journey to the Blue Moon gets three cupcakes. I had fun reading it and I’ll probably read it again, because that’s what I do, but there were some pretty major flaws that kept it from getting a higher grade.

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