As part of my quest to create the perfect library for the octospawn, I realized I’d only ever read an excerpt from this book and felt the need to correct that error. I enjoyed the read, but kind of understood why the parental units didn’t make it essential reading in the Thorpe house.
The Phantom Tollbooth is too clever by half, a criticism which pains me to bestow as I’m pretty sure my entire personality is based on being clever and charming, and if you remove the trench coat of that defense there’s nothing but a kid on his friend’s shoulders pretending he’s mature enough to pay bills and watch Black Mirror. (Spoiler alert: he is, but only like half the time. Also, why isn’t he a girl? I’m female?! I digress).
Anyway, the narrative is a flimsy canvas to hang linguistic puns upon. It makes a stab at a larger point in the first and last pages by making social commentary about our protagonist, Milo, being bored because he is boring, and finding more to be engaged in after his adventures, but ultimately it’s an excuse for Juster to create characters out of the Spelling Bee and the Watchdog Tock, which you can imagine from their names alone.
That said? Puns, y’all. I’m never going to be THAT mad at cleverness or puns, and the book is full of them. I just sorta wish it was fleshed out a bit.