This is one of the more unique books I’ve read in the last year. Zorgamazoo is done completely in verse, Dr.Seuss/Roald Dahl-sort-of-verse. All of it. All 281 pages of it. Terrific verse, mind you. Versifier Robert Paul Weston manages to beautifully sustain a voice, a tone, a style, and a beat throughout. Given that he is also telling a story — building a setting, atmosphere, developing characters, and moving a plot along — it is really quite impressive. The story is fantasy, macabre, silly in (yes) a Dahlian style, and truly great fun to read. (I have to admit I did have to put the book down now and then to take a break from the verse, but I think that was my problem not the book’s. I suspect kids will enjoy this tremendously and I think I may read it aloud to be sure.)
I usually don’t agree with reviewers who say a writer is “like” some other author, but in this case I do. I did find Weston to be writing in the tradition of Seuss, Dahl, and —yes– Lemony Snicket. His tone is sinister at times, there’s terrific wordplay, and the whole package is very elegant indeed.
And by package I mean the design. Not only is this whole book in verse, but there’s some fun stuff happening with the story, pages, and such. There’s a very strong authorial voice that is connected to the design. Well done indeed!
As for plot, it is there. We’ve a plucky heroine (a la Coraline and Alice) named Katrina Katrell with the requisite horrid parents and guardian. Then we’ve got another world (literally under ours) with another main character, one sadsack named Morty. The two of them end up on a quest to find the missing Seussian Zorgles of Zorgamazoo.
Zany is remarkably just the right word for once. Zany Zorgamazoo.