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Peter & Max by Bill Willingham
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Peter & Max (edition 2009)

by Bill Willingham

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4252024,867 (3.83)20
Member:Ginerbia
Title:Peter & Max
Authors:Bill Willingham
Info:Titan (2009), Hardcover, 400 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:****
Tags:None

Work details

Peter & Max: A Fables Novel by Bill Willingham

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  1. 00
    Grimm's Complete Fairy Tales by Jacob Grimm (kraaivrouw)
    kraaivrouw: Darker and scarier and grimmer than anything ever written ...
  2. 00
    Stardust by Neil Gaiman (WildMaggie)
    WildMaggie: Stardust is not as dark, but these book share a similar feel and tone.
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Showing 1-5 of 20 (next | show all)
As a kid I was a big fan of comic books, although I usually preferred the ones that were actually "comic" over what are now called "graphic novels". So maybe I'm not the typical audience for this book, but still I was intrigued by the idea. It turns out that the stories we call fairy tales and nursery rhymes are real events from another world, a world where some animals can talk, wicked witches live in forests and trolls under bridges, Bo Peep is a bratty little girl, and Peter Piper and his family are... well, pipers. It also turns out that their world has, at times, spilled its occupants over into our world. And those fairy tale people have formed a community near Manhattan which they call Fabletown, as well as a farm in upstate New York for those who can't blend in as easily in our world (like the Big Bad Wolf, now calling himself "Bigby" and working as a P.I.). And Peter & Max, alternating between present and past, tells the story of how Peter Piper and his brother Max Piper went very different ways - Peter marrying Bo Peep and Max becoming the Pied Piper.

I enjoy stories that employ interesting twists on familiar ideas such as the fairy tale folk in this one. And it's very clever and sometimes amusing the way such familiar stories work here (like "Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers" or "Peter Peter pumpkin eater..."). But as I often read such fairy tales to my girls I'm well aware that some of them are surprisingly dark (Hansel & Gretel, Rumplestiltskin, etc.) and Mr. Willingham puts the "graphic" in his graphic novels - and this text novel is no exception - and a few scattered profanities seem unusually harsh with a backdrop of children's stories. The violence, in my opinion, makes the book unsuitable for family listening and inappropriate for children (Amazon doesn't presently make this clear on the website).

But while I found the idea clever the writing isn't as good. Story flow which might work in art form doesn't flow as well in text, and the back and forth between past and present is sometimes maintained with short useless chapters that interrupt more than provide continuity to both halves of the story. Also, the transformation of Max from jealous older son into a cold-blooded murderer was entirely unconvincing in the telling - one moment he's simply a petulant kid and the next a ruthless and brutal killer. So, while part of me kind of enjoyed the story, the other part was disappointed to find out after I'd received it that it's for "mature" readers - and that the writing wasn't as clever as the idea. ( )
  J.Green | Aug 26, 2014 |
This was engaging enough but too bleak for my tastes. ( )
  navelos | Mar 26, 2014 |
Peter & Max takes place in the same world as the Fables comics, but you don't need to know the comics to enjoy the novel. When I bought it (way back in 2009), I hadn't read any of the comics, but meant to someday. Since then I've read a few and do really like them. The premise behind Fables is a group of fairytale characters live in modern-day New York after their world was conquered. Their borough is protected by wards that prevent regular humans from wandering onto a farm full of talking animals and such other potentially awkward situations.

Peter Piper and his wife, Bo Peep, live in the country away from Fabletown and usually stick to themselves, but Peter's rival brother, Max (the Pied Piper) has appeared and promises to wreak havoc on the fables way of life. To protect their way of life, Peter sets off across the world to hunt down his brother. The novel switches from telling what's going on in the now-time and what happened when Peter and Max were growing up, showing Max's decent into madness.

It was a fun, enjoyable read. Not great literature by any means, but entertaining. I was originally going to give it 3.5 stars since the character development was a little lacking, but the end made me feel so warm and happy it gets 4! ( )
  megaden | Oct 14, 2013 |
A good blend of multiple characters with different stories all interacting within the same world. ( )
  Kurt.Rocourt | Jun 20, 2013 |
Excellent! I tend to get annoyed when people take historical figures or well-known characters from fiction and simply reuse them in a different context (it seems to show a lack of creativity), but Bill Willingham puts just enough of a spin on things to keep it interesting.

This book could almost stand on its own, but definitely makes more sense in the context of the wider Fables comic book universe. With all the fables (fairy tales, tall tales) that are folded in to this story, it's amazing that it just fits. The story moves along at a brisk pace and the illustrations are quite nice. ( )
  Krumbs | Mar 31, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 20 (next | show all)
The characters and stories are very engaging, the tension real, the mythos powerful. There's everything to like about Peter & Max, even if you've never cracked a Fables comic.
added by lampbane | editBoing Boing, Cory Doctorow (Nov 9, 2009)
 
Peter & Max isn’t a bad book, it just isn’t a good one, either. It’s a fast read with just enough substance to appeal to dedicated Fables fans, but it isn’t satisfying enough to recommend to anyone else.
 

» Add other authors

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Bill Willinghamprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Leialoha, SteveCover artistsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Leialoha, SteveIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Wheaton, WilNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
Dedication
This novel is dedicated to Mike,
respected, admired and reliable friend,
who first explored these dark and
wonderful lands with me long ago,
before pen was ever put to paper.
First words
For most of his long years, Peter Piper wanted nothing more than to live a life of peace and safety in some remote cozy cottage, married to his childhood sweetheart, who grew into the only woman he could ever love.
Somewhere in New York City there's a tiny, secretive neighborhood no one knows about except those who live there and a few scattered others in our wide world.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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"When an unspeakable tragedy befalls a family of traveling minstrels, they become stranded and left for dead. Here in the heart of The Black Forest, Peter Piper and his older brother Max encounter ominous forces that will change them both irreparably. Thus begins an epic tale of sibling rivalry, magic, music and revenge that spans medieval times to the present day when their deadly conflict surfaces in the placid calm of modern-day Fabletown."--dust cover flap.… (more)

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