At 169 pages, it is a very short read and I’d think from the cover and title, this book is for kids but actually, it is aimed at adults. Scraggy was born in a litter of eight, being the strangest colored puppy in the litter with the most distinctive appearance. Unlike her mother and father, Scraggy bear a thick and curly black colored pelt which had probably came down from the dominate recessive gene rule. She wasn’t the most attractive puppy, but she was the one that could cause people to give her a second glance.
Scraggy’s owners were Grandpa and Grandma Screecher, who bred dogs for money. Scraggy–who was still a puppy then–had to watch in confusion as one by one, her remaining surviving siblings were taken away by people. From the start of her life, Scraggy had already had it hard. Her mother was described to shun her out as an outsider, and at least two of her litter-mates did not survive their puppyhood. She was also easily tormented by the cat next door. At a young age, Scraggy was forced to learn about the cycle of life. Scraggly learned that love and truth weren’t always wrapped up in the nicest of packages.
Oskar was weird, in the bad-kind-of-way, which is probably why he’s a soft target for the bullies in his school. Oskar was more of like the quiet guy who sits at the back of the class, who had no friends at all. Oskar could be described as dull, without anything sticking out of him at all. Oskar himself lived inside a broken family. His mother was probably the only person he had a connection with, his father’s status unknown. Alcoholic, he was assumed to be living in the countryside.
The harsh bullying he received and the loneliness which followed caused him to have an unnatural tendency to collect clippings of articles regarding crimes and murders. With a quick deal with his friend Tommy, Oskar had acquired a knife for himself, where he could spend his time plunging the blade into wood. He would fantasize himself plunging a knife into the gut of the ringleader of the bullies–Jonny.
Every bullied kid feels that way. Oskar is an example of someone that has been broken inside. There are many psychological things that would come with bullying and neglect. Oskar was described to be a very quiet boy, unable to stand up for himself to the point where he couldn’t even raise his own hand. He even had a piss-ball, making the torment that he goes through daily just something that should be faced without a fight, so that he could escape the problem faster. Oskar longs for somebody who could protect him, even to the point where he was ready to tail a policeman and hopes to get offered some form of shield from himself and the bullies.
After arriving in Lisbon, Solomon – he was an elephant – was immediately forgotten, living in a pen that became increasingly dirty after year by year. Fast forward a few years later, we have the king and the queen, trying to debate what to give the Archduke as a wedding gift. That was when the queen remembered Solomon and suggested to the king to give Solomon to the Archduke. The King agreed because it was a good idea after all.
Solomon was enjoying his nice peaceful life in Lisbon after a long journey from Goa, has now become a wedding present from the King of Portugal to the Archduke Maximilian. Giving an elephant to the Archduke was seen as a very symbolic move for the nation, as it’s not everyday a King would give someone an elephant as a wedding gift. Those symbolic ceremonies, where the King had to bring himself to visit the elephant in his pen and the Archduke Maximilian officially accepting the gift by changing Solomon’s name to Suleiman, (of course he’s still referred to as Solomon in the novel), Solomon needed to begin a really long journey from Lisbon to Vienna, where he had to travel on land and water.
In the introduction written by W. Warren Wager, he tells us that out of all the novels that HG Wells had written, there were four books that were more known than all the others. The books were the Time Machine, the War of the Worlds, the Island of Dr. Moreau and finally, The Invisible Man. Warren Wager muses that these books are well known due to the violence inside the book. Through the book, H. G Wells revealed the ‘invisible’s man’ personality little by little through each passing chapter, and how his personality isn’t something.
The story started with a stranger person, also called a stranger appearing at a small village at Ipping, in West Susex in the middle of winter. Strangely, he was wrapped up to the point where no part of himself could be seen at all, except for a little pink nose protruding from the bandages obscuring his face. He was weird enough to scare the innkeeper and everyone else in the inn, with his demands to let him stay in the room and to not be disturbed at all. What was more perplexing was the bottles that arrived the next day–loads and loads of chemicals in them, hinting that this possible stranger could have been a doctor.
When I pulled out this book from its package and read the synopsis in the back of it, I realized in five heartbeats that this book was going to be a gay romance book. I pretty much had bad experiences reading romance books in the past (I mean, I don’t like Fault in our Stars, like every other normal person on this earth) and at that point, I do support LGBT relationships. Except that I wasn’t quite ready yet to read a novel about it.
But the cover of the novel itself was crammed with a lot of awards. There was the Stonewall book award, the Pure Belpre award, the Lambda Literary Award and the Micheal Printz award, meaning that this is a very promising book. So I walked over to the nearest sofa, and curled up, book in hand and begun to read.