This book holds in it the kernel of a really neat idea – what 101 fictional characters/myths/legends influence our lives and has affected history? But by the end I wished it had been written by someone other than this team. There were plenty or entries which kept strictly to the facts, ma’am but the zany asides at least one of the three authors tried too hard and most of the snarky jokes simply fell flat. There is a difference between something that is funny with the proper inflection or when you know the writer and something that reads well across many audiences.
The list is given to the reader right away, the strict list of 101 in order. Then the narrative is broken up into chapters, and each chapter features a different category the 101 fall into – myths, folktales, propaganda, theatre, literature, etc. Each category has at least three example which fall into it, and each example is given its own description while the chapter is given its own introduction which attempt to make the argument for why these characters are influential. However, the arguments are not always well made and often selections weren’t actually influential, just favorites of the authors, which was clear from their entries.
From what I could piece together in the asides and prologue the writers are members of a writing group. While they weren’t personally bothersome to me, there were political asides in the entries which were out of place and distracting and typical of lesser experienced authors. While there were some technical issues and oddly placed humor I could have done without; there were some really interesting choices on the list and plenty of obscure background details. A particularly interesting tidbit for me was that I had completely misunderstood the concept of the Wandering Jew for my entire adult life. I’m sure there will be plenty of interest for you as well.
A side note: I used inter-library loan to get this book from my fantastic local library. And I found this sticker:
Why would you place it right in the middle of the author biography? There was plenty of space on the opposite page.