“Checkered Scissors” by Douglas Schwartz, narrated by Gary Roelofs, is a goofy, whacky, and quite unique tale of one man’s journey to recover his lost magical scissors. We meet some quite different characters along the way such as Glick who is over a thousand years old and he possesses people’s bodies. A salesman who uses scissors to craft his wonderfully creative and very popular pools. A mad scientist looking to find ways of travel between worlds so he can take over and rule them. And Max whose dreams have created much of what was brought to life in the book. Along with a host of other odd characters such as an ex-wrestler who was attacked by a shark.
The book takes the reader to many different otherly worlds (no space travel) where plants digest not only insects but large animals, pool water stays put in a horizontal position even though there is gravity, and entire cities with malls float around the skies; avoiding aircraft routes for obvious reasons. We come across some longtime warring factions and so much more as the book winds its way from start to finish. If this all sounds like quite a distinct journey, you would be right. At times, I found myself having to stop and take time to digest all that was happening. If this all sounds like something that would interest you, I would recommend you listen to the book or pick up a different edition. I do have a few caveats listed below in my review.
Let me start by saying that I did not go into this book understanding it was intended to be read and enjoyed by grade levels 4-12 (10-18-year-olds) until I did some research on the book’s Amazon Kindle edition page. Had I known this, I may not have been as interested in listening to the audiobook version. However, knowing this I want my review to reflect the book’s intended audience.
I found the writing style geared towards a younger audience along with more slapstick style humor. I do not remember any potty or immature humor, it was wittier to the age group. At times, I found it difficult knowing the audience because some topics or discussions would clearly only be understood by an adult reader. I’m unsure if the author was attempting to write like a Disney movie where something is funny to a child but also funny to an adult in a different way. A few referenced items in the book would only be known to an adult. I do not remember the book containing any innuendoes but there were a couple scenes discussing more adult subject matter; relationships, gender, etc. Overall the book’s sentences were simpler and shorter than I would expect when listening/reading adult aged books; so, it is more appropriate for the targeted audience.
This review is not saying that the book was unenjoyable, but once I understood it was directed towards a younger audience I could more freely appreciate it. The book reminds me more of a blending of steampunk, fantasy, and modern worlds all combined to create this very complex world where Max and his friends travel to find his magic scissors.
Let me turn my attention to the audiobook narration. Overall I think Mr. Roelofs did a good job narrating the book. His reading was consistent and well-paced. He appears to be a veteran in audiobook narration with over one hundred other titles to his name; crossing various genres. At times, I felt he was reading as I would to my child in the way he emphasized some sentences or voiced the different characters. Again, the book’s target audience is younger so I’m assuming the narration was read with this idea in mind. I have not listened to any other books by this narrator, so I’m unable to make any judgements apart from this book.
I do want to call out a few production issues with the audiobook version. First, there were a few places where I could make out some background noise, swallows, or it was clear the author was running out of air before completing the sentences he was reading. These were subtle items and did not take away from the overall story. The bigger issues for me was that an entire chapter (#26), containing nearly 20minutes of audio, was silent when I listened to the audiobook. After finishing the book, I deleted the copy I had downloaded from Audible, re-downloaded it and tried to listen to this one chapter again, but it too was blank. I’m sure this is something that Audible can address if it is not a production issue.
Disclaimer: I was voluntarily provided this review copy audiobook at no charge by the author, publisher and/or narrator.