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Warning: I just had my morning coffee, so prepare for a long review.
Well, that got real weird real fast.
I picked up this audiobook at the library because it had a blue mouse on the cover and how can you mess that up? Apparently it's possible.
This is basically a bubbly, less exciting version of Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of Nimh.
The story itself was okay, I guess. I liked the educational components of it. There are tons of mouse facts interwoven into the text such as that a group of mice is called a mischief and that mice use their whiskers to help them smell and all that. There are also tons of big words that Isaiah uses and gives the definitions for. So that was cool.
I also really liked the focus on how different can be good and accepting everybody for who they are. It was a great message and I loved that part of it.
However, the rest of the book was a weird string of chase scenes where Isaiah and the other mice are constantly running. I get it, they are mice, they have a lot of enemies. But there are only so many times I want to hear about how you had to run away from the "evil cat", Lucifer. What a creative idea: a book about mice where the cats are the villains. This makes sense, but I just recently read Ratscalibur and loved the idea that not all cats are evil. This one just played into the same old story roles. How dull.
Also, Isaiah's narration was kind of irritating. While living in the Brosky (sp?) house, Isaiah constantly critiques them for being fat and their unhealthy living style (which consequently proved him and the mischief with unlimited goodies so I don't even know what he's complaining about). If you want a book to make people feel terrible about their eating habits, look no further. The next time you binge in front of the TV in the privacy of your own home, just remember that there might be a super judgmental mouse right around the corner.
This leads to the issue of the actual reading. I wish I would have read the physical book instead of the audiobook, because Nate Begle's reading really bugged me. His does a great job changing his voice for different characters, but the one for Isaiah himself was really irritating. It sounds like an overly enthusiastic cartoon character that every parent wants to strangle. Even when he is escaping "the horrible place" and is terrified out of his mind, he still somehow sounds like he's just about to blow that candles out on a cartoon cake. Like chill out, dude, there's only so much enthusiasm I can take.
From the beginning, it is clear that Isaiah and his family are in a research lab. Whatever your opinion of this topic, it is undeniable that animal research is a very important tool in furthering medical research. This book takes an overly simplistic view of animal research. While I don't like it, I realize that animal research is very helpful to making scientific discoveries. Having worked in a research lab myself, I know that everything is done to study and experiment in the most humane way possible. This book pretty much just says it's bad and that's it. From a mouse's point of view, I get this, but I think parents should be ready to discuss the topic further with their children if they read this book. The whole thing is much more complicated that this book leads the reader to believe.
Lastly, the ending. What the heck?
Haley's (sp?) character is super accepting and cool throughout the book. Then at the end, after rescuing the extraordinary mice from the "evil" research lab, she randomly invites them to go to church with her? Because that is definitely the first thing I would do. I kind of picked up on the religious theme with the names in the book (Isaiah, Winnifred, Godfrey, Abe), but that ending was pretty random. The speech was great, but where the heck did that church sense even come from? Freaking weird.
In summary, this book was okay. There was definitely more I disliked than liked. Glad it was a relatively quick read. Would not recommend.