Normal things turned upside down, Jessica Steele
Twice Upon a Time: A Very Good Very Bad Story
March 01, 2021
What happens when you find yourself trapped inside a story?
Well, in Twice Upon a Time by James Norcliffe, young Ginny is about to find out. When Ginny’s pop goes missing, she and a random fellow called Digger Dagger set out in search of him. But they find themselves inside a story, and the only way to get out is by answering the riddles given to them by The Very Bad Very Good Storyteller. They must find their way through a world of upside down, wrong way round things.
Now I for one found this story very slow moving and lacking excitement. The start is interesting, and I liked the mystery around the weird appearance of this gnome digger dagger who has no idea of how he has arrived, where he is, and what has happened beforehand. But the further in I got the slower it became and I really wasn’t motivated to read it. I felt that I had to make myself read it and it just didn’t have the flair I thought it might have. I like a book with adventure, a story that takes you away with the pages into a new reality and this wasn’t that type of book.
It does have its good moments though, and I liked the way the author turns normal things back to front with the fish and chip shop selling live fish in aquariums and wood chips and the change from Don’s Dairy to Nod’s Diary where Nod sells diaries.
The chapter titles are intriguing which helped draw me in to each new part. The author does a great job of manipulating the words to change them around into the upside down world the story is set in.
The characters didn’t seem that developed and so I felt I didn’t get to know them very well throughout the story. I don’t recall learning anything much that was personal about Ginny or any of the other main characters.
I think this book would be more appealing to a younger age group – maybe a reader from 7-9 – because it doesn’t have the depth an older reader would be looking for in the characters and just moves too slow but I like the ideas in it.
I read some other reviews before writing mine and many of them said that this book is ‘uniquely New Zealand’ but for me, apart from the dairy and fish and chip shop, it doesn’t pop out as truly New Zealand. This is something that left me quite confused, as I didn’t really see what they meant by it and the thought had never crossed my mind.
I did not enjoy this book very much but I’m sure it will appeal to a different audience. After all everyone has different tastes and enjoys different books.
– Jessica Steele is 12 and lives in Auckland.