Reviews

Peter & Max, by Wil Wheaton, Bill Willingham

mrswhiteinthelibrary's review against another edition

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4.0

Peter & Max is Bill Willingham, author of the much acclaimed Fables comic book series, first attempt at writing a novel. It is closely related to said series, but works very well as a standalone. At first the writing seems a bit shaky, but as the book continues, Willingham falls into a groove of writing what he writes best: well drawn characters and grand adventures. For this story, he interlocks several well known folktales and nursery rhymes against the grim backdrop of a war, as he does in the comic series. But in this tale, Peter Piper is brought to center stage, along with his sociopathic brother, Max, more commonly known as the Pied Piper. The story shifts perspective on a chapter by chapter basis, allowing the story to be told from both sides, and while long spans of time sometimes pass, the characters, relationships, and story never lack development. While I would not say Willingham's forte is prose, he does an overall fine job crafting this novel, and it was an enjoyable adventure that was difficult to put down.

nwhyte's review against another edition

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3.0

http://nwhyte.livejournal.com/2686443.html

I read most of Bill Willingham's Fables series of graphic stories back in 2008-11 when they were getting Hugo nominations, but rather lost interest after the big battle between our heroes and their enemy was resolved in Volume 11 (of at least 19). This however is a spinoff prose novel, explaining the tortuous relationships between Peter Piper, Bo Peep and Peter's evil brother Max, coming to a gruesome climax in medieval Hamelin with echoes through to the present day, where fairy tale characters are living under cover in New York.

It's gorgeously illustrated, clever and well-written, but not especially so, and while it's supposedly standalone with respect to the comics, I think they do crucially reinforce each other. So I can't recommend this to those who haven't tried (or don't want to try) the graphic stories it's rooted in.

lasairfiona's review against another edition

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3.0

This ties into the Fables (comic) continuity so I had to read it (I am so addicted to that series). It is a stand alone but I am not sure anyone could really get into it without already enjoying Fables. It is also placed in continuity maybe around volume 6 (it says in the book but I don't have the book with me - I loaned it out).

The writing is smooth and easy, almost too smooth actually. I would have preferred it to be a bit more complicated in the style and substance of everything. It started well, fell off in the beginning and middle, and finally got intense enough toward the end to be really fun.

I don't know for sure but I think Wellington hasn't written any other books. The book really would have been quite excellent as a comic - it is simple enough, a few bit being an exception, that the translation would be great. However, I really like authors branching out and I think that Wellington's next book will be even better.

SO I am totally addicted to Fables and any story that furthers that is good to me. The book was fun and light reading with some very twisted bits involved. I would have liked even more gruesome detail though I suppose that doesn't actually fit in with how the comics work (I am such a horror fan). I would totally read other Fables books tie ins.

jamestomasino's review against another edition

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2.0

This one ended up feeling drearily bleak, even with a realtively "happy" ending. It drolled on and on, despite the book being quite short.

alexctelander's review against another edition

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4.0

Peter & Max is the first of what will hopefully be a number of spin-off novels from the award-winning comic book series, Fables, created and written by Bill Willingham. Fables is the incredible story told in pictures and words of the lives of the fables who have been forced out of their home world by the Adversary, as well as a number of monsters and beasts, and now live in our world. They’ve resided in the grand state of New York for a number of centuries now. The human-looking, ordinary fables, as well as those who can transform into humans (such as the Big Bad Wolf, Bigby), live in a square block of New York City known as Fabletown. Protected by wards and spells that keep ordinary humans away, these fables enjoy an average everyday life in this busy city. For all the animal fables that would cause the average person to run screaming for the hills when said fable started talking to them, they live at the Farm, a large piece of land located in upstate New York.

A lot has happened in the pages of Fables, many battles and wars, and catastrophic events; new fables have been born, while others have died. But as much as skillful writer Bill Willingham has already told, there is much back story and history that the author has barely hinted at. Enter Peter & Max, the riveting, fascinating story of Peter Piper and his older brother Max. The story begins with the discovery that Max is now loose in our world, and it is up to Peter to stop him. The reader is taken back in time, going through Peter’s and Max’s lives, as Peter becomes close to Little Bo Peep, his future wife, and his skill at playing the pipe. At a relatively young age they are separated, and while Peter grows to become a skilled and intelligent person, Max is taken under the claws of a wicked witch and taught evil things and evil ways. In a big showdown, Peter is barely able to best Max who flees to other lands, while Bo Peep is left horribly handicapped. And now Max is back, in our world, wreaking havoc, and this time Peter will have to end him once and for all.

While Peter & Max isn’t written in quite the same colorful, moving style as the comic book series, Bill Willingham continues to show that he sure knows how to tell a story, keeping the reader hooked from start ‘til finish. The words are accompanied by some wonderful ink-black illustrations by Steve Leialoha, whether they are single or full double-page spreads, or small depictions on the corner of the page, that continue the mood of a fairytale that you never want to end. Peter & Max is a necessary addition for any Fables fan looking for something new and different for the series, as well as anyone wanting to discover the series for the first time; the book is a perfect introduction.

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samcarlin's review against another edition

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3.0

It was good, but I really missed the graphic elements from the series.

i_dream_of_books's review against another edition

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3.0

I liked this a lot until the end. To me, it ended in kind of a disappointment. I won’t spoil it, but I felt it was built up and kind of a let down. Otherwise, I enjoyed the character building and the story for the most part.

chgoange's review against another edition

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4.0

Like the Fables comic book series which it is based upon, a fun escape with some of our favorite fairy tale characters. Little Bo Peep as an assassin. Love it.

just_fighting_censorship's review against another edition

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3.0

Peter Piper and his brother Max are the ultimate case of sibling rivalry. This story takes us from the supposed beginning of the rivalry in the Homelands all the way to the final showdown in our present day.

I enjoyed the characters of Peter and Bo, but as far as villains go Max was pretty one note. Max has absolutely nothing to give him even the slightest bit of redemption and his motives are pretty simplistic, so simplistic in fact, that they seem hard to believe. Even Voldemort was given a little redemption/explanation with the exploration of his family background. Max is just an asshole. He does incredibly terrible things and at a pretty early age.
SpoilerHis dad giving the flute to Peter instead was not enough
Despite the seemingly all-knowing narrator we get very little insight into Max's thoughts and feelings besides insanely intense anger.

There were some really great battles but too many lulls filled with things that added nothing to the story such as
SpoilerMax approaching Fabletown to ask for citizenship, Peter's discussion with Bigby
. Overall, a pretty average story with few surprises but a decent tension filled plot nonetheless.

sarahconnor89757's review against another edition

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3.0

Like the comic, I love the premise but hate the way it was written. Just bores me.

The book itself, though, is beautiful. The illustrations are done in a detailed classic children's book style.