Book review. “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang over the moon” by Frank Cottrell Boyce
This is a licensed continuation to the namesake predecessor, one of a series which are making a franchise out of the property. The estate stakeholders seem accustomed to the cash flows of franchises, and this one supposes to live up to such expectations. It is clever, breathlessly active, and not too demanding of the reader’s intellect.
The story starts out with an incorrect history being played out in front of time-traveling CCBB travelers, features an array of fantasy events and the Queen, and hurtles forward along a sci-fi story-line where the past mixes pell-mell with the future. This is a situation of ‘family chasing fiendish super-villain who once had been their friend’ kind of book, and nothing is too novel about it. We get our action, drama and a happy ending, and yes, the car jumps over the moon.
The story-line is quite simple, with a family of clever, stereo-typically nerdy couple and brood, who are chasing a super-villain through a time warp, traveling on CCBB to do it. There are predictable set-pieces alternated with wacky take-offs on a comic-book superhero level, set against the lovable happy-family backdrop. The protagonist family is mirrored by a predeceasing happy family, united for this action by the wrinkle-in-time situation.
The plot is a dead simple one of the family seeing fantasy crimes get done, none of which hurts anyone physically, then zooming this way and that through the future and the past to find the bad guy, get him to be friendly again, and setting the world to rights by ‘undoing’ all the crimes. Standard fare these days for kids’ books, lots of magic, confusing adventures, and a happy ending.
There is no theme here, except for the family of serious good-guys chasing the bad guy and figuring out how to make everything right in the world, against the comic-book super-villain’s ethos of doing naughty things because it’s his idea of ‘fun, fun, fun’.
The characters here are as two dimensional as the pages they’re written and drawn on. Maybe it’s true that the creator’s old standby “J.B.” was a little bit of a killing and womanizing machine, but the lack of depth of these characters is more notable than the faces in the daily comics. Maybe they were kept simplistic to keep out of the way of the nonstop action, because there certainly is no time for a moment of self-conscious reflection in the whole story.
Most of the dialog is there to fill the air and move the action along. It’s all on the order of ‘I think we should go catch the bad guy over *there*!.’, ‘Let’s go!’ and ‘We’re going, whoopiee!’ I cannot recall a single exchange between characters where any interesting thoughts were set off in my mind, nor apparently in theirs.
The hype for this book starts on the front cover, self-proclaiming it to be a ‘brilliant … adventure’. It goes onward and upward from there, hyperactively selling itself with every sentence. I cannot recommend staying further away from any book that I can think of.