Munmun

Book review by Michael Berry, Common Sense Media
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Common Sense says

age 14+

Wealth equals size in unique, laugh-out-loud satire.

Parents say

age 14+

Based on 1 review

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Community Reviews

age 14+

Excellent + funny; more disturbing violence than expected after reading CSM review

Munmun may be a good read for young people that are ready to engage in a sometimes hilarious, sometimes frightening satire of what it means to be born rich or poor. But there is a big asterisk on that "may be" and it's that this book includes sexual violence that some readers definitely won't be ready for. It also includes a drawn-out and relatively gruesome killing-for-entertainment scene in which victims of human trafficking are forced to fight to the death. Odd that neither of these scenes are mentioned in the Common Sense Media review! The protagonist, Warner, is a great character whose dark sense of humor and detached world view are born out of early and repeated traumatic experience. Over the course of the story, these traumas never cease, not for Warner or any other littlepoor. The littlepoors are stepped on, literally and figuratively, day in and day out. They are humiliated and abused by anyone richer than them with a whim to do so, by the dehumanizing institutions of the state, by the predatory corporations that manipulate to take what little munmun they may have, by other littlepoors. Warner (and crew's) navigation of this system is thought-provoking and intense, and engaging throughout. But, a warning, which will include vague spoilers. The official CSM review doesn't mention the most disturbing parts of this book, two in particular. The first is a disturbing experience of sexual violence suffered by a central female character. The scene is not described directly and young readers may not fully understand, but will be clear to many. Ours got it, was upset by it, and it lead to an unexpected discussion of power + sex, sexual predation, date rape... I found the writing of this inferred scene pretty disturbing and have thought back to it multiple times - had I known about this part of the book, I would have waited a few more years before letting my pre-teen read Munmun. The second involves human trafficking which leads to the slow and brutal murder of six people in gladiator style battles, all filmed and broadcasted for the entertainment of others. One of the main characters fights to save them and fails over the course of days. It's prolonged and dark and was also upsetting for our reader. These two scenes are much, much darker than anything described in the main review above, and may be upsetting for your young readers. They also felt like something of a departure from the rest of the book, which also involves violence, but not at this level. Final thought: There is a dark irony in the main CSM review only mentioning the possible death during Warner's rampage, which happens to a 10 scale mega-rich character, and not mentioning the sexual assault and these six gruesome murders, all of which happen to littlepoors. Clearly the author's premise for this satire is validated! Final, final thought: In years of using CSM as a resource for guiding these types of decisions, this review was the worst whiff I've come across. I'm really, really glad I read the book myself so that we could talk to our daughter about these two scenes rather than relying on the CSM review. Usually we don't read the books she reads - a good reminder to be diligent and not to trust one source alone.

This title has:

Educational value
Great messages
Too much violence

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