Tag Archives: robert asprin

For ages # and up

I was looking through some stuff the other day and was reminded of a comment one of my reviews had received, suggesting that instead of just calling something a children’s book, I should name a specific age range. It occurs to me that I have absolutely no idea how to define such things. I believe I have two major factors working against me:

  1. No children in my life. I am not a parent; I don’t babysit; my nieces and nephews all live halfway across the country; and I was the youngest child so I never even had a younger sibling to care for. In short, I have exactly zero experience in choosing age-appropriate literature for children of any age.
  2. I’m not even sure if my own childhood reading was age-appropriate. First of all, I didn’t really enjoy reading. I hated everything we ever read for school. Aside from a few books by Beverly Cleary, Gordon Korman, and Daniel Pinkwater, I don’t recall much between picture books and adult science fiction and fantasy. By the time I was a preteen, I was reading mostly Piers Anthony and Robert Asprin. Is this age-appropriate? Hard to say, I guess, though I did grow up to be a (fairly) well-adjusted and (somewhat) normal adult. All the same, I’m sure I embarrassed my mother that time when I looked up from one of the Incarnations of Immortality books to ask her what a concubine was.

I am also at a loss to define “age-appropriate” in terms of subject material. I could probably rate books in terms of vocabulary, but who am I to say what topics are or are not suitable for a child of a certain age? Most banned/challenged books become that way because someone believes it is inappropriate for children of a certain age group. When do people magically become old enough to handle any variety of topics? I say if you’re in high school, you should be capable of handling adult themes. I read Night by Elie Wiesel as a freshman. It could be argued that a fourteen-year-old is not mature enough to handle such a subject, but considering the events occurred when Wiesel himself was fifteen, the objection seems trivial.

So, how do you determine the proper age range for a book?

Something M.Y.T.H. Inc. by Robert Asprin

Something M.Y.T.H. Inc. by Robert Asprin: This is the twelfth and final volume of one of my favorite series of all time. A word of warning: read the rest of the series first. And if it’s been a while (as it had been with me), at least reread Sweet Myth-tery of Life. I was a little lost here and there, as some events in this book take place simultaneously with its predecessor. Also note that as this is a book with M.Y.T.H. Inc. in the title, it is not narrated solely by Skeeve, but (in this case) mostly by Guido. His incessant Guys’n’Dolls-esque speech gets a bit tiring from time to time, but if you enjoy old mafia movies there are certain scenes that are just a hoot. I would share the plot, but there isn’t much to say. Ostensibly it’s about a popular uprising against The Great Skeeve for raising taxes, but really it’s just a tying up of loose ends. The ending is optimistic, and it’s nice to have some closure after all these years.

Also posted on BookCrossing.

Myth-ion Improbable by Robert Asprin

Myth-ion Improbable by Robert Asprin: It’s been at least a decade since I last read any of the Mythadventures books. Luckily, I’ve read the series at least twice (probably three times) so reading this book was like getting reacquainted with old friends, especially since it takes place between books three and four (there are twelve total). Here’s the plot in a nutshell: our hero Skeeve, his grumpy mentor Aahz, and their lovely ex-assassin friend Tananda find a treasure map that leads them to a dimension of vegetarian cowboys who fear something that comes out at night. It’s a silly and somewhat convoluted story, as all the Myth books are, but a bit more disposable by virtue of having been written out of order. I can’t fault Asprin for this; he admits in the Author’s Note that this was written as a way of easing back into the characters after a seven-year hiatus. In short, I would not recommend this book on its own (though it does a fine job of filling in quite a bit of the backstory), but definitely as part of the series. The Myth books remain some of my favorite fantasy comedies of all time, and it was nice to finally revisit them after all this time.

Also posted on BookCrossing.

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