Friday, February 25, 2011

Book Spotlight: Ella Minnow Pea by Mark Dunn



Readers who answered my Dystopian August survey said one of the things they'd like me to do is to spotlight books I've read in the past but not reviewed.


ELLA MINNOW PEA is one of the most inventive novels I've ever read. It's starts out with a crazy premise - on the island of Nollop off the coast of South Carolina there is a community who reveres Nevin Nollop the writer of the sentence "The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog".  When letters start falling off his statue, the island's council takes it as a sign that Nollop doesn't want them to use that letter anymore and it is banned from all speech and letters on threat of explusion from the community.

The novel is all letters Ella writes to her cousin Tassie and Ella has to be increasingly creative with the language she uses as the alphabet at her disposal decreases.  At first, it is merely annoying, but Ella is always able to find alternative ways to say what she needs to.  But towards the end, her letters look like this:

Thangs 4 telling me oph what happen to Mr. Mannheim. Yew are right. We were inteet worging together.

In any case, Dunn explores a totalitarian dystopia that seeks to limit freedom of expression with wit and wisdom.  A fun novel for anyone who loves language and is looking for a book in the genre that goes beyond the doom and gloom.

16 comments:

bermudaonion said...

I agree with you. I loved this book and thought it was so unique. I thought the author did an incredible job with it!

vampireprincess said...

I really enjoyed this book. It got somewhat confusing when they lost more letters, but that was sort of the idea. Was a really good read.

Kulsuma said...

This sounds great! Have you read 'A Void'- not dystopian, but it doesn't use the letter 'e' throughout the entirety of the book.

Amanda said...

I love this book so much! Every time I see a review of it around it makes me happy. It needs more exposure. I'm completely in awe of what Mark Dunn was able to accomplish.

Toby Speed said...

I must read this!

javaintheam said...

I loved this book too, and honestly thought I was the only one who read it. What a great read.Thanks for pointing it out.
Can I recommend Scorch by Nauman? It is another one of my faves (by the way I picked up the Tepper you mentioned and will get to it soon). I am dreading the arrival of March....long wait until August.

Kailana said...

I really need to read this. I have had it in mind for a couple years and still haven't read it!

Irish said...

I really loved this book. I loved the message that it sent about censorship and how little things can really add up. For a little book it packs a powerful punch.

Darren @ Bart's Bookshelf said...

Loved this one when I read it. (Thanks to Amanda sending it to me).

Rachele Alpine said...

Hey, hey....I'm giving away the arc of DIVERGENT I won on Veronica's blog if you're still interested! The book is awesome!

http://freckle-head.blogspot.com/2011/02/arc-contest-divergent.html

Ladytink_534 said...

Oh that's certainly different! When I first learned the alphabet that's the way I pronounced those letters except I made all three into one word.

Biblibio said...

I've considered reading this on several occasions but haven't gotten around to it. I'm hesitant due to the kitsch/annoyance potential, but based on the amount of praise and the interesting premise, it seems like I might very much enjoy this book.

Stacey said...

This is on my to-read list :)

Misty said...

This book really amused me. It was fun to read (even if it was frustrating at times), because it was sort of like a puzzle.
And it was interesting, too, because it was a bit of a light-hearted approach to dystopia. I mean, the subject matter is serious, and some serious things happen, but the format is sort of playful.

Zibilee said...

I have this book, and recently gave it to my daughter to read. I also am excited to try it, but wonder if I would be frustrated when letters started dropping away. A very creative book, to be sure!

Bianca said...

My french teacher actually mentioned this book to us the other day. I really need to check this out. It sounds great!