A Critic's Meta Review: 4/5
Now here’s an interesting take on the whole Oz franchise - hey, let’s still throw “of Oz” in the title, but have almost none of the story take place in Oz. That will really throw them off. They won’t know what’s going on! And that’s exactly what you want to happen to your readers when writing a story. You want them to have no idea what’s going on.
At least, this has always been my approach. Who knew L. Frank Baum and I had so much in common? Next thing you know, he will be showing off his collection of rare Yusef Lateef LPs and telling people about how, if you just go out and grab a handful of seasonings and spices from the grocery store, you will never have to go to a restaurant again.
Unless, of course, you are dating a woman with expensive taste. Then, you can kiss those dollar store instincts goodbye. Don’t sweat it, though; it happens to the best of us (believe me).
Anyhoo, back to the review (aw yeah, DJ bring that back). Now, this book is fairly well-known for having one of the first instances of a sentient humanoid automaton (or robot, if brevity is more your thing) in literature (far from the best instance, however - that title belongs to none other than Marvin, the Paranoid Android...but we’ll go ahead and give this one 42nd place ;) in the character of Tik-Tok (not to be confused with the ridiculous social media platform that everyone and their mother seems to be obsessed with, confirming only that I have become a bitter, old man when it comes to these sorts of things).
That is not, however, what is most interesting about this book. No, what is most interesting is that the story starts out...in Australia. Australia as in “crikey, mate” Australia. “Throw another shrimp on the barbee” Australia. Down unda. I only wish you could hear me saying all of this right now.
In all seriousness, I have been genuinely impressed with Baum’s range throughout this series. Not only was he able to cover a whole lot of ground within the confines of the children’s literary genre (a genre that he, without a doubt, revolutionized), he was able to do so in a continuously inventive, captivating, and endearing way, while also predicting a number of technological trends that would soon take place in the ensuing years.
One smart cookie, that Baum.