Fifth grader Tamaya Dhilwaddi and seventh grader Marshall Walsh have been walking to and from Woodbridge Academy together since elementary school. But their routine is disrupted when bully Chad Wilson challenges Marshall to a fight. To avoid the conflict, Marshall takes a shortcut home through the off-limits woods. Tamaya reluctantly follows. They soon get lost, and they find trouble. Bigger trouble than anyone could ever have imagined.
In the days and weeks that follow, the authorities and the U.S. Senate become involved, and what they uncover might affect the future of the world. Summary and image from goodreads.com.
Review: WARNING: This novel is NOT the funny, happy Louis Sacher we all know and love. It’s spooky. It’s creepy. It may spawn a fear of mud and forests. Proceed at your own risk.
Louis Sacher has truly outdone himself blending biotech experimentation, school politics, adolescence, evolution, and ethics into a perfectly spooky short novel. The action sections of the novel are gripping enough, but cut away to a future testimony of a Biological Engineer trying to defend and promote his discovery of an engineered life form capable of solving the fuel crisis — if it doesn’t mutate.
Fuzzy Mud asks the reader to answer the questions: Because we can, should we? Is there ever a time when progress isn’t good? How many experiments and tests are enough? These are difficult questions for the majority of people, but posing them to a Middle Grade reader is genius. It sparks dialogue between readers of the book and their unwitting parents (who may have been followed around unceasingly being told to read the book), and assumes that the reader is rightly smart enough to start analyzing ethical dilemmas.
I understand that’s a lot of pressure to put on a book that barely numbers over 100 pages, but I’m still shocked that Sacher pulls it off. This is the perfect spooky, quick Halloween read — especially since it’s set in the Fall.
Rating: Five stars
For the Sensitive Reader: There are a few scenarios of bullying that escalates to physical violence, and the side effects of the fuzzy mud are grotesque.