Thursday, 22 November 2012

Muddle and Win: the Battle for Sally Jones by John Dickinson (Children's, 9 years +, 9/10)

August 2012, David Fickling Books
240 pages, Hardback & ebook
Review copy

Themes: good vs evil, angels, devils, being whacked by a hammar, good sister vs difficult sister, its all in the muffins, wanting to break free from everyone's image of who you are, getting into trouble at school, trials of sisters, lots of humour

Everyone has a Lifetime Deed Counter (LDC). It works like this:

You offer to help with the housework: Lifetime Good Deeds +1
You steal your little brother's sweets: Lifetime Bad Deeds +1

Looks straightforward, huh? But what if your every thought was disputed by opposing forces of good and evil - by an angel wearing ray bans (called Windleberry) and a demon in the form of a wart (called Muddlespot)? And within your mind they were fighting a fierce battle over your actions, a battle dictated by a game of poker?

When Muddlespot is promoted from a devil's janitor to special agent, the pressure is on for him to infiltrate Sally Jones and make her Bad. If he doesn't, it will be Very Bad for him. But as his mission leads him down Sally's ear and into the deepest recesses of her mind, all becomes unclear. Just what does it mean to be good? And can it be good to be bad?

Nayuleska's thoughts

This is a book that makes you laugh and think a lot. Good vs evil is a common story theme, and the battle to win Sally is a tough one. Muddle and Win each try to please their bosses, but there comes a point where the lines between each side blurs which is a focal point in the book. For those whose beliefs include good deeds and bad deeds, the Lifetime Deed Counter makes a lot of sense. Sometimes it is obvious which deeds are good - hurting people is a no-no. But sometimes bad deeds can seem good: it's bad for Sally to do,SPOILER but it forces Billie to SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER. 

I admire Sally and when I was younger I was mostly like her at school, but at home I shared a good few of Billie's traits. That's how life is, good and evil all mixed up. If only we did have actual good & evil physically with us, their arguments are entertaining. This gets 9/10 because it took a bit of time to get to the style of story which I'd expected from the start.

You can find out more on John's website.

Suggested read

For an older read try Ministry of Pandemonium by Chris Westwood

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