Title: Board Stiff (Xanth, #38)
Author: Piers Anthony
Source: from publisher for review
Review Summary: I didn’t love the writing style and found the plot a bit weak, but the creative world building was awesome.
Irrelevant Kandy is a beautiful young woman, but she’s also bored and tired of men who only appreciate her looks. This leads her to make the following wish: “I’m board stiff. I want Adventure, Excitement, and Romance”. Unfortunately, the wishing well noticed her typo and literally turns her into a board! Fortunately Kandy might actually be going to get the rest of her wish too. Just not in the way she expected…
As one of my friends aptly pointed out (talking about Xanth after the first few books), Piers Anthony definitely gives off a bit of a “creepy uncle” vibe. Nearly everything relates to sex somehow. In a romance novel with steamy adult sex scenes, I might see the appeal. In this book, it was more of a juvenile snickering at sex. Some people might find it funny, but it just didn’t work for me. I also discovered that I don’t find puns especially funny, even if they are something Xanth is know for. Occasionally, they made me laugh. More often than not, it took me a minute to get them and when I did, I didn’t feel like it was worth the effort. It just pulled me out of the story.
Fortunately, even though Anthony’s writing style wasn’t my favorite, I did generally enjoy the story. The characters end up in new and exciting places every chapter. I was constantly surprised by the creativity of the world building. There were also a few instances where Anthony’s humor did work for me. Any book that uses humor to convey an anti-censorship and pro-Unix message is alright by me! In fact, the story would have completely overcome my reservations about the writing were it not for one thing. Everything was too easy. The characters occasionally have to be clever to solve a problem, but for the most part, the way their quests works is by serendipity. They happen to end up in the right places with the right tools to make each challenge pretty simple. Insta-love is also apparently part of how Xanth works. So, while I would recommend giving this series a try to see if Anthony’s sense of humor happens to match your own, I’m not sure I’ll be going out of my way to read the previous 37 books in the series.