Ok guys, I need you to suspend some disbelief with me real quick as I introduce you to this incredibly topical, but also incredibly quirky book. Meet “Threshold” the story of Ooolandia (a world like ours but with the extra “o”) where humanoids and animals all work and live together. As in the animals talk and have jobs, but also still function as animals and hunt each other. See what I mean about the quirkiness? But Ooolandia is in trouble. The population has become so fixated on changing nature to do what they want, that they have completely destroyed the ecosystem on their never ending quest for MORE. The only ones to see what the business running Ooolandia is doing is the Department of Nature, run by a monkey and a really smart mouse—more quirkiness! Plagued by what they see, and others don’t, it’s up to them to open the populace’s eyes before it’s too late. Ok so you have these smart, talking animals, plus a lot of mythical creatures, and they are all on a quest that revolves around climate change, and trying to get the people who deny what’s going on to see how everyone is connected. See how relevant that subject is to our current world? Honestly, this book shouldn’t have worked, but it does! It so, so does!
At first, I thought this book would be better suited to an MG audience given all the animals and the general silliness of some of the names and characters. But as I continued, the humor of talking animals and the extra O’s is more to keep the story from being overly preachy and depressing, which, given the subject matter, would be all too easy to do. The quirkiness also allows for the author to use metaphors, and satire to show the parallels between our world in a really creative, and often magnificently subtle way. Like the Chatterdee birds being the news outlet, just spouting the latest hot gossip, burying the true news and telling only one side of the story. The prejudice over migratory birds lining up with the prejudice you find everywhere today over immigration. It’s presented with such a gentle touch that you almost miss it. Almost. But Anderson gives you just enough for the connection to be obvious without beating you over the head with it, and I found myself really enjoying all the connections the author strings throughout the story more and more.
This is what I mean about suspending disbelief for this science fiction novella, friends. The presentation, especially early on, can make it seem juvenile—but that almost childish presentation is just a vehicle for the bigger metaphor. The dialogue is fun, the jokes well presented, but the seriousness of the topic, the life and death scenarios many of the characters find themselves in, is delivered with a powerful punch. For such a short book, there is a lot to unpack in this story! There’s so much tension and fast paced action at the end, and the ending also feels satisfying and complete alongside the world building. Not an easy feat in a book only 200 pages long, let me tell you!
But I know this story isn’t going to appeal to everyone. While I thought the writing and dialogue was all very well done, the presentation can be off putting and make you think you are getting one story when you’re really in for a different kind of ride. This is not MG at all, the concepts presented are complex, even if extremely relevant to our current world. But I also know not everyone wants to read about human’s impact on climate change, either. So know that going into this read, or it may be a mixed bag for you. Me, personally? I was so pleasantly surprised by this story and amazed by the writing when all the connections started, you know, connecting (I won’t say more for spoiler purposes) that this book made me oddly happy—as in most of the book isn’t traditionally happy and not everyone makes it to the end so being happy may be weird? I think this may be the first novella I’m giving 5 stars to, but I really think it deserves it! And thanks to the author for providing me with a copy for an honest review.
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