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Sujit Thomas

By Andy Griffiths
Macmillan, New Delhi, 2003, pp. 272, £ 4.99


When The Telegraph said “This book stinks”, they were being unduly  complimentary. This book doesn’t stink! It reeks. It is as if the author, Andy Griffiths, is obsessed with bums. The overactive imagination of an author cannot be held responsible for ideas like “The Great White Bum”, the whole concept of ‘bum bashing’ and ‘bum fighters’. No, these weird ideas can only be chalked up to sheer lunacy. The storyline is insane, the characters inane and infuriatingly ridiculous. The ‘jokes’ are more an attempt (futile!) to interest the hapless reader in the plot. The ‘Uranus-your anus’ joke is admittedly funny but NOT when it is has been repeated about two hundred and fifty-five times in 272 pages!!!      Where Griffiths does succeed in capturing the imagination of the reader is not in the lame plot, nor in the characters, nor in the jokes but in the  readable narrative. The fact that he could bring characters alive as vacuous as those in this book speaks volumes about the author’s narrative ability. As a result, this book is remarkable more for its well-documented action than for its hilarity (which is virtually non-existent!)      The plot, such as it is, is this: Zack Freeman is a rookie ‘bum fighter’ who has surprisingly managed to kill two of the most dangerous and evil ‘bums’ in the world. However, he chooses to quit the ‘bum-fighting academy’ and plans to return home. Far away, on the planet Uranus, Zack’s parents are investigating dead, alien ‘bums’. All of a sudden, due to unknown causes, these ‘bums’ are awakened. These ‘bums’ are the zombie bums—they are virtually indestructible, completely unstoppable, totally evil and have the ability to enslave or ‘zombie bummify’ humans. And they’re heading towards earth to commence the total ‘zombie bummification’ of the planet and eventually, the ‘univarse’. Upon their arrival on earth, they are confronted by the intrepid ‘bum fighters’ led by Zack and his veteran ‘bum fighter’ grandmother. It is up to them to save the ‘univarse’, but can they do it alone?       This is one of those books that are highly predictable from beginning to end and certainly does not involve any major surprises. For all those bemused with the idea of fighting ‘bums’ considering that they are a part of a human’s anatomy, in Zack Freeman’s world, ‘bums’ are not only detachable but also talking, walking, breathing (unfortunately!), ...

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