Well this is new, no movie reviews, no show reviews, this time a book review! This year I decided to embrace literature and read some books. One book that stood out to me was…well you read the title of the post, Who Censored Roger Rabbit by Gary K.Wolf. The book stood out for several reasons, namely that it shared 75% of its name with the 1988 Disney family classic Who Framed Roger Rabbit. Now I was aware Who Framed Roger Rabbit was based on a book, but this was the first time I’d actually come across the book itself. So with lots of spare time I sat down and read the book. What I read…was so unexpected, so out of left field, so amazing that I had to review it!
In this world, humans and Toons live alongside one another. They get on as best they can, but not all is bright and sunny in this town. Grizzled private eye Eddie Valiant is hired by comic strip model and star Roger Rabbit to investigate his contract, but also to uncover the unfortunate case of Roger’s recent divorce. However, just as Eddie is about to pack in the case, he finds himself thrust into a case far bigger than he could have fathomed. A tale of greed, sex and murder is afoot as Eddie and Roger are in a race against time to find the end of the cases thread before time is up for both of them.
I genuinely cannot even describe this plot any more than that without spoiling it. If you go into this book expecting a plotline akin to the movie, well you are in for a shock. This story features barely any actually similarities to the movie, even the characters are completely different to their movie counterparts. While the film is a family comedy with noire elements, the book is a black comedy noire mystery that takes itself seriously. Well, about as seriously as a story where cartoons are real can be, but most of the humor is derived from the narration and character descriptions given to us by Eddie Valiant.
The plot of this tale is a classic whodoneit mystery, with Eddie and Roger teaming up to uncover the secrets lurking beneath this world of toons and men. In the movie Eddie refers to the films events as ‘a tale of greed, sex and murder.’ Well he must’ve read the book because that’s exactly what this story is. The story is dripping with noire elements, and truly does tell a tale of greed, sex and murder, so much murder. There’s twists and turns, plot points slowly unfurling before us with red herrings, contradicting statements and it really makes for a ‘trust no one’ situation.
The world building is also very well done, it draws many parallels to segregation in American in the 1900s with toons being met with hostility from many. The various powers, varieties and ways of life the toons exhibit makes for a well constructed world that immerses you and makes you want to keep reading. So overall, the story is something I cannot really spoil, but rest assured its a story that draws you in with an interesting and enticing plot and keeps you reading with many a twist and turn and fabulous world building.
- Eddie Valiant: Unlike the washed up gumshoe played by Bob Hoskins in the film, Eddie Valiant in the books is a griseled, top of his game man who retains his dislike for toons, but it seems to be more of a personal thing rather than a grudge like the movie. Eddie in the book is marvelous, he’s mean but approachable, an asshole but a likeable one, wonderfully smart but lazy to a fault. He has a really nice arc throughout the story, going from money hungry and lounging around Roger Rabbits case to a justice seeking crime fighter who puts his life on the line for justice and answers. His relationship with Roger is also fun, evolving from a nuisance to a real friendship that’s a total treat to watch.
- Roger Rabbit: Roger Rabbit, the namesake of the book at films himself, is starkly different to the movie iteration. Aside from an appearance change, he’s far more…normal than his movie counterpart, with more human desires and ideals who just wants a happy life and to get his wife back, but we’ll get to that. Roger in this story is very much a hopeless fool who stumbles from scene to scene, but there’s a lot more humanity behind those big cartoony eyes, as he displays a much broader spectrum of emotions and character development than his bumbling movie iteration. Roger is perhaps the best part of the story, seeing him change as the plot progresses, slowly growing from a hapless annoyance to Eddie into a dear friend and partner as the pair team up to unravel the bonkers case they got themselves into.
- Jessica Rabbit: Where to begin with Jessica Rabbit. I’m sure we’re all familiar with the sultry yet sweet wife to Roger Rabbit from the movie, well prepare for the biggest 180 in your life, cos this Jessica Rabbit is a gold digging tart. The book has her divorce her beloved Roger before the main plot even begins, and she spends the entire novel belittling and insulting Roger, while trying to dig her claws into Eddie and any other man she can get her hands on. She’s definitely fun to read about, if anything for the fact that she’s such a far cry from her movie adaptation. Jessica is a suspect in the larger plot, and her actions throughout the story leads Eddie and Roger down a strange plot thread that you feel determined to deduce alongside the duo.
- Other characters: The other characters that appear in this story are definitely important but not enough to warrant separate paragraphs. Carol Masters is a hard as nails toon photographer who gives our heroes the runaround in the plot while also being stern to a fault but oh-so enjoyable to read about. The businessmen brothers of Rocko and Dominic Degreasy serve as pseudo antagonists for the story, and the have all the sleaze and sliminess you’d expect from Hollywood bigwigs. Other characters serve as single chapter plot devices or mere cameos.
Overall, an impressive cast that, while having very little connection to its movies cast, stands on its own as a steller collection of characters who drive the plot forward in interesting and fun ways, and even if you aren’t well versed in the movies characters, the novels cast remains as strong and enjoyable regardless of exposure to the movie.
I don’t think a typical graded system is appropriate for a novel review, so instead I will give my final thoughts at once. In conclusion, this story is more enjoyable than I thought, and I consider it to be my new favourite novel. A compelling plot that has just the right level of seriousness to it, laced with hints of dark comedy delivered through Eddie’s hilarious narrations, allowing you to immerse yourself in the world and become one with the plot. Speaking of the plot, the story is a classic noir style tale, but with the addition of toons, it becomes astoundingly unique and makes for an engaging and endlessly fun story to follow along with. The twists are organic, the noir elements come through strongly and you can’t help but beg for the answer. The characters are all perfect for one another, each one complimenting the next with varying personalities and suberb dialogue that keeps the plot advancing but also vague to the point that you want to continue reading. Overall, I consider this story to be a gem that people simply must read when they get the chance, it’s so much fun and an immersive and ‘hare’-raising tale.
Final Grade: 5/5
Thank you for reading, I hope you enjoyed it. This was a lot of fun to write, though apologies for the recent absence. I hope to return to blogging more frequently, but until then I wish you all safety and remember to keep being awesome! If you liked the post please consider leaving a like and following my blog for updates on future posts. Also follow me on twitter @joe_reviews for further updates and general nonsense. Until next time!