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Peter & Max by Bill Willingham

Peter & Max (original 2009; edition 2009)

by Bill Willingham

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4813021,406 (3.8)24
Title:Peter & Max
Authors:Bill Willingham
Info:Titan (2009), Hardcover, 400 pages
Collections:Your library

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Peter & Max: A Fables Novel by Bill Willingham (2009)

  1. 00
    The Complete Fairy Tales of the Brothers Grimm 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 30 (next | show all)

I read most of Bill Willingham's Fables series of graphic stories back in 2008-11 when they were getting Hugo nominations, but rather lost interest after the big battle between our heroes and their enemy was resolved in Volume 11 (of at least 19). This however is a spinoff prose novel, explaining the tortuous relationships between Peter Piper, Bo Peep and Peter's evil brother Max, coming to a gruesome climax in medieval Hamelin with echoes through to the present day, where fairy tale characters are living under cover in New York.

It's gorgeously illustrated, clever and well-written, but not especially so, and while it's supposedly standalone with respect to the comics, I think they do crucially reinforce each other. So I can't recommend this to those who haven't tried (or don't want to try) the graphic stories it's rooted in. ( )
  nwhyte | Oct 7, 2016 |
Overall, this wasn't bad. I certainly prefer the comics, but that might have simply been because this novel was about characters I'd never met in the Fables history. Sure, Bigby and Snow, Red and Clara made brief appearances, but make no mistake, this was about Peter and his brother, Max.
I wasn't thrilled with the end. I literally read it, then went back to the top of the page because that couldn't have been it. It couldn't have just ended like that after all this buildup! But it did. Oh, well. ( )
  imahorcrux | Jun 22, 2016 |
This is the second of two novels I've read by Willingham - the first being the more recent Down the Mysterly River - and it directly follows my reading of the first ten volumes of his comic series Fables, which features the same world as Peter & Max. Despite an unusually hand-holding introduction bringing readers into the reality of Fables, the novel is almost entirely standalone from the series; it has little consequence on, and barely involves, the regular characters.

I'm rapidly coming to the conclusion that Willingham really can't write prose. Peter & Max, like Mysterly River, is plagued with awkward sentences and strangely bitty writing; they both feature fairytale environments with sudden, shocking, and sometimes off-puttingly grim violence (which, in fairness, can occur in Fables as well); and there's a damn weird streak of misogyny that I'm sure is intended to demonstrate the unpleasantness of certain characters, yet mostly serves to reflect badly on the author himself. (Hint: there is nothing quite like being privy to the innermost thoughts of a violent teenager as he contemplates assaulting ten-year-old girls.) Again, like Mysterly River, I was struck by the relative richness of the scenario Willingham composed at the beginning, as well as how it all seemed to descend into an almost trite conclusion. This really doesn't bode well for any future novels Willingham writes. In fact, it makes me worry about the second half of Fables.

Although I don't think it ultimately impacted my frustration with the book too much, I should also point out that I found Willingham's depiction of a disabled character - self-pitying, self-loathing, and of course, anxious to be cured - not just wildly inappropriate but remarkably out of date. It's a little thing, but as a high-functioning disabled wheelchair user, I found his depiction extremely distasteful. ( )
  saroz | May 17, 2016 |
Overall, it was dark, entertaining, and really insightful in terms of the story of the Pied Piper. I loved the duality of the two brothers, and their relationship progress as the book goes on and as they age. Also, many other well-known fairy tales are included as accents to the central story of the two brothers, which was really entertaining and insightful. I enjoyed it, mainly because it was nice to see a different format to Willingham's graphic novels. That being said, I do think that he is better off at writing the graphic novel versions of Fables. The book reads a bit choppy, to be honest, but the characters, their development, and the storyline as a whole were fully fleshed out. I also don't recommend reading this before reading any of the Fables graphic novels, because you will be very lost in terms of a few aspects of the overall Fables storyline. The book CAN be read apart from the series, but I strongly suggest reading it after just so you understand the context of the Fables world. ( )
  SiempreBailando | Jan 9, 2016 |
What a great addition to the Fables story. This book tells the love story of Peter Piper and Bo Peep, two familiar nursery rhyme characters who are joining the Fables cast through this book. Although Peter maybe the main character; Max, the Pied Piper, Peter's evil older brother steals the show. Willingham uses words to weave an evil ambiance around Max and the woods that we are used to seeing in our Fables characters and settings. He does it without the use of the normal illustrations, proving just how talented a writer he really is. We also get to meet Frau Totekinder and Bigby, before they became the lovable, affable characters we are used to. ( )
  Rosa.Mill | Nov 21, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 30 (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 editionscalculated
Dos Santos, DanielCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Leialoha, SteveIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Leialoha, SteveCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Wheaton, WilNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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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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"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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