I would have to say that this book, 4th installment of the Secret Series is, by far, the most enjoyable of Pseudonymous Bosch’s works at this point in the series. Slightly longer than the first 3, this volume takes Cass back in time to discover secrets buried in her past. We see Max-Ernest alone since the first time we met his character, facing the challenges of bringing Cass out of her chocolate-induced coma (which she entered in the last book, This Book is Not Good for You).
Taking one more opportunity to obsess over his favorite thing aside from smelly cheese, Bosch creates this “little” description for Max-Ernest’s new-found love for chocolate:
“What would he do if the hospital’s chocolate supply was not replenished? How could he continue to visit Cass without the rich, ripe, dark, deep, zippy, zesty, wicked, wonderful, delicious, delightful, delectable, and even electable (if he could vote), vibrant, vivacious, seductive, addictive, oh-so-very-attractive, nourishing, flourishing, rather ravishing, beautiful, buttery, sometimes bittersweet but never bitter, gorgeous and worth gorging on, berry-ish, cherry-ish, meaty yet fruity, elemental yet complex, mellow yet electric, soothing yet energizing, earthly yet heavenly, melt-in-your-mouth pleasure of chocolate?”
This paragraph description is quite possibly my favorite example of an author getting carried away, and my new favorite description of chocolate. Bosch is a true cacao connoisseur. Since ME’s discovery that he is not indeed allergic to chocolate (or anything), he develops an obsession for the tasty stuff almost as bad as the author’s. It helps him get through his depression of missing Cass by his side, and spurs him on to attempt to revive her from the coma.
While navigating the real world without his best friends (Yo-Yoji is out of the country for the moment), Max-Ernest interacts with the others at the Nuts table for the first time, where his trio used to spend their lunchtimes. Glob and Daniel-not -Danielle provide some comic relief, which helps offset the serious implications of Cass’s mission and the distressed state her coma puts everyone in. They even end up quite useful in helping our heroes fight the bad guys.
Cass has her own adventures back in the medieval times, where she enlists the aid of people with distinct similarities to those she knows in real life. Following the mysterious words of a seer and other clues, she hunts for the Secret that she has been searching for since she first knew about it. Dealing with the complications of invisibility, she communicates with those she knows but who do not know her. This includes the Jester, founder of the Terces Society (the secret society created to keep the Secret away from the Midnight Sun, also secret backwards) whom Cass believes holds significance in her life. She also gets to experience “The Legend of the Cabbage Face” up close, plotting with the homunculous, who she met in book #2, If You’re Reading This, It’s too Late.
The parallels of the past and present give us some clues about how each character in their own time are going to reach their goal. We have the artifact of the monocle, which allow Cass and Max-Ernest to see through things each in their own time. Cass uses it to seek the Jester, and Max-Ernest to read Cass’s mind while she’s asleep. This book’s sense is that of sight, as we are dealing with invisibility and illusions and x-ray vision.
From the man who brought us half chapters, backwards numbered books, and unnamed chapters, we now have negative chapters.
“As you will discover, I have numbered this and several other chapters negatively, so to speak. Alas I cannot tell you why without giving away too much. But if you have studied integrals, you may well be able to guess. You know, for example, that a negative number is a number whose value us less than zero, and that the ‘higher’ the negative number is, the lower its value. Thus, when you order two negative numbers in sequence, the higher of the two always comes before (hint, hint) the lower. Negative ten comes before negative nine, and so on, until you get to zero and things turn normal – more or less.”
Basically what I discovered is that the negative chapters are the ones where Cass is in the past, and the regularly-numbered chapters are the ones that occur in the normal world where Max-Ernest struggles to make sense of a life without her. I imagine that when we get to chapter zero, Cass will wake and things will be returned to “normal” (but I haven’t gotten there yet, and when I do, I’m not going to reveal what I find. I’m just going to leave that sentence how it is to preserve the mystery…)
I don’t want to give away more than I already have. Talking about the Secret is dangerous business, so I will leave you with this dancing text man from the Glob Blog:
And wise words from Yo-Yoji:
\m/ (>.<) \m/
Read about all of the book in The Secret Series in one place!