Thursday, September 15, 2011

Math Geek: Toby Alone

Timothee de Fombelle's Toby Alone is an ambitious kidlit book that tackles tough issues such as child abuse, environmental abuse, bullying, responsible scientific discoveries, xenophobia, young love, betrayal, and death, but my immediate response is that the math doesn't add up.  This is because I am a shallow math geek.  See, Toby is repeatedly stated to be less than two millimeters tall, but then the size of the leaves and bugs around him don't make sense, and the distances between characters also don't work.  The author has a disconcerting habit of giving these numbers precisely (he was only two millimeters away or something) but if the people are less than two millimeters tall, someone standing that far away isn't exactly in someone's personal space.

I also found Toby hard to like.  Yes, he was smart and athletic and cunning and limber, but all these super powers just made him dull.  Good people loved him, bad people hated him, weak people betrayed him but then felt bad about it.  Whatevers.  No one seemed worried at how unforgiving or arrogant he was.  When the final pages of the book frantically set things up for a sequel, I didn't have the heart to follow him around anymore.  Maybe I just don't have a French sensibility.

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