This book, which reads like it was written by a gifted 12-year-old, was published in its bloated, badly written, and typo-laden state by a publisher who perhaps once knew better. There was a time when editors were gimlet-eyed, erudite types who wielded a red pen like Excalibur, and had stables full of warrior monk copy editors who thought nothing of waterboarding a semi-colon until it admitted it was really a colon. Apparently those days are over, giving way to the era of the Corporate Publisher. "There's this book," they must have said. "from some little-known publisher in Utah that's selling up a storm. Buy it, and distribute it nationally."
"But," one hopes at least one voice in the room piped up, "it's bloated, badly written, and full of typos. At least let one of our editors work it over."
"Nah. Publish it as is. It's selling just fine."
And so the deed was done. After more than 200 pages of maundering around the neighborhood in Oklahoma, the story finally gets going, though the characters don't make it to the absurdly named Foo until nearly the end of the book. Along the way there are some flashes of excitement; no character development; a plot that, when it's not being completely derivative, doesn't make much sense; plenty of clichés; and numerous instances of the author amusing himself by throwing in weirdly inappropriate references that few kids will get, to everything from '70s pop music to Seinfeld. The movie version is due out in 2009.