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Review of The Toyminator by Robert Rankin

The release of the new Robert Rankin book is, for me, perhaps the literary highlight of the year – after all, none of my other favourite authors write novels with such clockwork regularity. The timing was especially interesting as I’d just read a rather drab Discworld book. I’m happy to report that this Rankin ejected liquid waste on the Pratchett from a lofty vantage.

The plot of The Toyminator, as with every other Rankin book, is that the forces of evil are intent on destroying the world and it’s up to two unlikely heroes to save said planet. This book is also the sequel to The Hollow Chocolate Bunnies of the Apocalypse, which is one of Rankin’s best books. A footnote on page 16 of the current volume reads:

[…] buy a copy right now if you haven’t already read it, read it all the way through, then go back to the first chapter of this book and start again. Because this is a sequel. And although a damn fine book in its own right, one in fact that should win any number of awards, but probably won’t because there’s no justice in this world, it might be best to read the first book first and the second book second. Only a suggestion.

The Toyminator isn’t as good as Bunnies, but it is indeed a damn fine book. I read it with a smile on my face pretty much all the way through (although what else was I doing whilst reading, hm?). All the usual Rankin silliness is present and correct (although the number 23 went sadly unused for the first part of the book) and we see Rankin’s strongest female character since Gloria Mundi (although that’s not saying much).

Time for another random quote (which I don’t do enough of in book reviews, but my anal retentiveness doesn’t extend to making notes of favourite passages in novels):

Jack looked up at the colourful banner that hung between colourful posts. ‘Count Otto Black’s Circus Fantastique,’ he read. Aloud.

‘You’ll like the count,’ said Eddie. ‘Or at least I hope you will.’

‘You do?’

‘Yes,’ said Eddie, ‘because then it will sort of balance things out.’

‘It will?’

‘It will,’ said Eddie, ‘because I can’t stand the sight of him.’

One place the book falls down is that it doesn’t quite live up to its own Terminator-parody billing. Near the start of the book we see a doppelganger of the joint hero, Eddie Bear, appear out of thin air in an alley and toddle off to, well, terminate. But unless I missed the explanation, this doesn’t quite fit in with what we later learn about what’s really going on.

Still a very entertaining book, though, and there’s only twelve months or less to wait till the next one.

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Categories: Literature, Reviews
  1. Count Otto Black
    21 September 2006 at 5:06 pm

    May I take this opportunity to thank you for quoting the very best bit from “The Toyminator”, which is of course the bit with me in it? Alas, I have to agree with you that a biographical novel in which the main character (me) only appears on pages 107-117 is probably lacking a little something, and therefore cannot possibly represent Robert’s best work. Still, he tries. And I actually survived the book! Though bearing in mind that I died twice in the previous one, my average is still pretty appalling… To get the REAL nitty-gritty, you’ll just have to wait until my ongoing threats, blackmail, and lobsters through the letterbox by second-class post finally persuade Robert to publish the as yet suppressed manuscript of my autobiography, “Things To Do In Brentford When You’re Dead”.

  2. 22 September 2006 at 4:55 am

    Er, thanks. Good to hear that you’ve recovered from the events of The Brightonomicon.

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