Wednesday, September 25, 2013

The 9 Lives of Alexander Baddenfield (2013)

The Nine Lives of Alexander Baddenfield. John Bemelmans Marciano. Illustrated by Sophie Blackall. 2013. Penguin. 144 pages. [Source: Review Copy]

The Nine Lives of Alexander Baddenfield is strange, dark, quirky, and depressing. For me, it was an uneven read. There were a few places that I thought had promise. They would be a couple of sentences here or there that I thought worked, that I thought had potential. But ultimately, the book did not satisfy me. The good news is the book is quite honest. It begins and ends with Alexander in his grave.
But now you say to yourself, "Aha! I know: the twist is that the boy is not really dead. It says it right there in the title--Alexander has nine lives. He will be reborn again and again, so that by his ninth life this awful child will have learned his lesson. His heart will fill with love for his fellow man, and he will become a Not-so-Baddenfield, or even a Goodenfield, and he will turn all his money over to the poor and dedicate his final life to charitable good works." If this were a Hollywood movie, or a fairy tale, or a run-of-the-mill chapter book, this would undoubtedly be the case. But in the real world such things rarely happen. The truth of the matter is that Alexander Baddenfield used up all of his lives without the least bit of remorse or redemption, because Alexander Baddenfield only ever cared about one thing: himself. And that, dear friends, is the most Baddenfield trait of them all. (2-3, ARC)
This is a book that prides itself on the fact that there are no moral lessons or general instructions imparted to the characters OR to the readers. A book that celebrates the fact that there was no redemption. It is a very depressing though at times slightly humorous novel. I'm sure there are some readers out there who will find this one interesting. But for me, it did not work. 

© 2013 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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