Saturday, April 23, 2011

TODAY, I DISEMBARK FROM UNDERPANTS! Book 8: Captain Underpants and the Preposterous Plight of the Purple Potty People

The eighth book in Captain Underpants's series of epic adventures seems to be the last, though you wouldn't get that impression from reading the final page of epic novel 8 where Pilkey promises many more books on the way. First of all, there is the promised next adventure of Captain Underpants titled Captain Underpants and the Terrifying Return of Tippy Tinkletrousers. Since it's been 5 years and there's still no Tinkletrousers, I think now might be a good time to give up hope on that front. Anyway, it sort of leaves me with a certain lack of closure on this reading challenge. I never had any intention of giving the two books of "crunchy fun" a second glance (or a first glance for that matter), so not reading them doesn't bother me, but an unpublished Captain Underpants makes my accomplishment seem unfinished somehow.

Anyway, the final step in my Captain Underpants Challenge was right on par with the previous seven. The story was a bit absurd, the humor a bit stale, the plot twists a bit far-fetched, and yet it was not a bad book on the whole. I didn't care for the disparaging remarks made at the expense of the elderly, but at least Pilkey made them into an impressive pair of superheroes by the end. Boxer Boy and Great-Granny Girdle flying off to find an early bird special together was the most romantic moment of the entire series without a close second.

This wasn't my favorite epic in the series, but it was okay. I found the alternate version of reality that the boys were transported to far more appealing than the one they started and finished the series in, but I suppose that was intentional. Crackers the Pterodactyl never made it home to the Mesozoic Era, massive property destruction caused by Sulu the gigantic bionic hamster is surely going to come back and haunt the boys at some point in the near future, and let's not forget that the boys are off prison for bank robbery, but all that can be handled in the future (if there is a future). I have a bad feeling that the evil versions of the boys aren't finished in this series. I wasn't all that impressed with them to be honest. They were fairly predictable, and how many evil versions of superheroes can be done before you just don't care anymore? I think I've reached my limit on that variety of plot twist. Evil twins, alternate realities, parallel universes? They've all been done to death.

Along the way through this final adventure, many of the jokes fall along the same lines as jokes from previous books. I still enjoyed it when characters made references to other parts of the book by page or chapter number. It was still funny when Pilkey referred to the fact that the plot could only work in a slightly obnoxious children's book. The problem is that by the time I reached this point in the series, I found myself longing for something else. Just being privy to the knowledge that the author knows what he's doing is a bit silly and nonsensical doesn't give a reader fulfillment on its own. I don't hate the books. They're good for an occasional laugh. They just get a bit tired after a week straight of one-a-day pacing.

I'm ready for the end of this challenge. I think I've learned something from the experience and I will never again sneer in derision when a child tells me they'd like to read the Captain Underpants books. I know them for what they are and even though I will never call them the finest example of…well… anything, I can say with some degree of certainty that they are okay. There are regrettable moments among the good, but that's the case with most books. This series wasn't the something special that it's been made out to be by both its friends and its foes. It was pretty commonplace writing, written to pseudo-offensive perfection. If you're after that sort of thing, then by all means dive in. As for me, I'm over it. It was fun while it lasted, but that time has passed. I'll leave it to my family to decide whether I'm any less sane than I was before I started.

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