Parents' Guide to

The 9 Lives of Alexander Baddenfield

By Blair Jackson, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 10+

Dark, funny tale of mean boy trying to end his nine lives.

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In THE 9 LIVES OF ALEXANDER BADDENFIELD, author John Bemelman Marciano has created a hateful (and hateable) character who's all bad, all the time. He's obsessed with the idea of killing himself in unusual ways just for the fun of it, since he has managed to have the nine lives of his pet cat surgically implanted in him. It's a funny, crazy premise, and Marciano's omniscient, Lemony Snicket-esque narrator guides us through one horrifying episode after another with a sort of amused detachment. The characters are so broad, and some of the situations so ridiculous, it's hard to take the relentless violence too seriously. Even so, it does become somewhat tiresome and numbing after a while.

Things pick up toward the end when Alexander goes to Spain to be a bullfighter, and there are even hints of redemption for this black-souled child, a welcome relief from the darkness. Sophie Blackall's fine illustrations help lighten things a bit.

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