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Once Upon A Bookshelf

Where Fiction and Reality Meet

Doc Wilde and the Frogs of Doom

Author: Tim Byrd
Originally Published: 2009
Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, a division of Penguin Young Readers Group

Doc Wilde and the Frogs of DoomWhen Brian and Wren’s grandfather disappears (again), the two siblings must go on an adventure with their father (the famous adventurer, Doc Wilde) and his two trusty sidekicks (Phineas Bartlett and Declan mac Coul) in an attempt to find where Grandpa Wilde has disappeared to.

Their search takes them to a tropical jungle that just happens to have a rift in space. An evil being from another universe is trying to get into ours and is using frogs (including flying mutant frogs, and frog-man-things that used to be human!) to help it break into our world. Somehow Grandpa Wilde has gotten himself into the middle of this, and it’s up to our heroes to try to find him, and stop the evil being from devouring our universe.

This is Tim Byrd’s first novel, and the first in a series of books about Doc Wilde and his adventurous kids. It’s based on the pulp books of yore, and while I cannot recall any pulp fiction that I have actually read, I hear that this is very close in style to those.

It’s definitely a fun book, for those looking for rip roaring adventure with a dash of good ol’ scifi. It has it all: Action! Adventure! Fighting! Evil Beings From Other Universes! Mutant Frogs! It would not surprise me if this book was a big hit with young boys.

There were two main things that drew away from my personal enjoyment of this book. The first was Doc Wilde himself. He is like Indiana Jones, except that he’s also a body builder. And an inventor. And an architect. And an awesome dad. And goodness knows what else. He comes across at absolutely perfect at everything he does – and because of that, he was kind of boring.

The other thing was that the timeline seemed a bit inconsistent. It apparently took Grandpa Wilde 20 days to hike through the jungle to the big scary frog-shaped cave… but the rest of the Wilde family went searching for him a week after he left home to do a speech at Harvard, and it only took them a few days to get to the same bit scary frog-shaped cave. So I’m missing a bunch of days here.. but I could’ve overlooked something about their trek through the forest. ETA: I was reading an ARC of the book; Tim has left a comment stating that this was changed for the final version of the book.

The Bottom Line: While I personally may not have loved this book, I have no doubt that young boys would thoroughly enjoy it. It’s got action and adventure. It’s got lots of fighting between the good guys and evil mutant frogs. It’s got no real slow period – completely action packed. While I would definitely recommend this to someone who is looking for a book for a young boy, I won’t reread it, and I won’t read more in the series.

Posted by Courtney Wilson @ 6:22 pm May 26, 2009.
Category: Children's
Book Author(s):
Publisher(s): ,

  • http://www.DocWilde.com Tim Byrd

    Thanks for the read, and for being fair enough to acknowledge that it’s fun, even if not entirely to your tastes.

    A couple of points regarding the two things that “drew away from [your] personal enjoyment of this book”:

    The character of Doc Wilde is a direct, loving homage to the pulp hero Doc Savage, whose monthly magazine during the Depression was second only to The Shadow in popularity. In fact, Grandpa Wilde, as the original Doc Wilde who was famous in the thirties and forties, is my intertextual acknowledgment that the original hero is parent to the current hero, but also speaks to the fact that Wilde is his own man. As similar as he is to Savage, he is also very different in ways (as is Grandpa Wilde, who has become warmer and not so stern over the decades).

    Doc Savage was the ur-superhero who inspired the creators of Superman, Batman, James Bond and many other heroic literary figures. Like Doc Wilde, he was not superhuman, but was pretty much the ideal human (except in his rather stunted emotional development). He was the exemplar of excellence; Jack of All Trades, Master of All.

    So, Doc Wilde comes by his perfection honestly. There are challenges in writing about someone so perfect, but doing so is true to the genre I’m playing in. Criticizing a Doc Savage tale for the perfection of the hero is missing the point, just as criticizing a Superman story because Superman is so much a superman is missing the point. And Doc Savage, and Doc Wilde, are, unlike Superman, mortal, vulnerable men who can be killed by a bullet. In that, they’re very similar to Batman. For all their perfection, they’re still only human. (And Doc Wilde, honestly, is a more emotionally accessible hero than Savage ever was).

    Still, you either like that sort of thing or you don’t. You didn’t care for Doc Wilde as a character, just as some folks don’t care for Superman as a character for similar reasons. But that exemplary human character, while not the way to interest you, is true to the genre and enjoyable to those who like that genre.

    The other point, about the timeline, is only a problem in the advance reading copy. The twenty days thing was a remnant from an earlier draft, and I caught the discrepancy and fixed it before the actual publication of the novel. This was one of those situations referred to in the caveat at the front of ARCs, “In quoting from this book for reviews…it is essential that the final printed book be referred to, since the author may make changes before the book goes to press.”

    Of course, you can’t be faulted for not returning to the final book to pick through the small details across various chapters to verify the timeline. I’m actually impressed you noticed the discrepancy, which lingered through various revisions and editorial passes to be actually printed in the ARC before I caught it myself.

    All that said, it either works for you or it doesn’t. I’m glad you at least got some enjoyment from it, even if it wasn’t enough to bring you back for more.

    Best,

    Tim
    http://www.DocWilde.com