Saturday, August 31, 2019

Review - The Boring Book

The Boring Book
by Shinsuke Yoshitake
Date: 2017
Publisher: Chronicle Books
Reading level: C
Book type: picture book
Pages: 40
Format: e-book
Source: library

Boredom: humankind's age-old adversary. It's a state that is undesirable, uninteresting... and just plain boring. But as one particularly bored boy discovers, there's actually more to boredom than meets the eye—more questions, more theories, and heaps of humor. This exploration of boredom from acclaimed author-illustrator Shinsuke Yoshitake playfully—and hilariously—unpacks the ways in which a seemingly stagnant state is actually a portal into a dynamic, life-enriching experience. For anyone who's ever been mind-numbingly bored, this smart, laugh-out-loud picture book just might change your perspective on the state of boredom forever.

(synopsis from Goodreads)

This book is, rather ironically, not entirely boring. It's full of head-scratching moments, and the overall feeling I'm left with after reading it is exhaustion. Imagine a kid who's so bored that they just start letting random things pop out of their mouth. Now imagine that you've just fed them an energy drink and some ice cream... and you'll start to get an idea of how this book wallops the reader with its annoyingly frenetic energy.

I guess part of the point may be to show that our minds can go to weird places when we're bored, but this was just so disjointed. I swear, I don't think I've ever read anything like it. The thoughts jump around so much that it's difficult to keep hold of any particular thread, except at one point near the middle where the kid muses for many pages about whether various random objects feel boredom. (That went on for way too long.) Here's an example of what I mean, taken verbatim from the text:

Wait--what makes things boring?

Why am I bored?

What does "boring" mean, anyway?

What if I were stuffed into a big donut?

The randomness of such switches are almost enough to give the reader whiplash. (It didn't help that my e-book copy from the library didn't match up the text with the images properly. That may have been part of what happened with the donut example, but still... that's a really abrupt transition!)

Things get even weirder when the kid asks his father about boredom, and the pictures show them glaring at each other like they're having a terrible argument. The tone and content of the text doesn't match the illustrations at all, so I'm wondering if there was something lost in translation from the Japanese.

In any case, this is just a weird book. I can't say it bored me, though. It's hard to be bored when you're wondering what the heck is going on.

Premise: 2/5
Meter: n/a
Writing: 2/5
Illustrations: 2/5
Originality: 2/5

Enjoyment: 1/5

Overall: 1.67 out of 5

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