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The 13½ Lives of Captain Bluebear

Walter Moers

Average Review Rating Average Rating 8/10 (2 Reviews)
Book Details

Publisher : Vintage

Published : 2001

Copyright : Walter Moers 1999

ISBN-10 : PB 0-09-928532-0
ISBN-13 : PB 978-0-09-928532-8

Publisher's Write-Up

A unique novel set in a magnificently rendered imaginary country. Bluebear is a bear with blue fur and 27 lives, 13½ of which he uses up by the end of the book, in a world as far removed from our own as can possibly be imagined - mysterious Zamonia. Captain Bluebear is a German cartoon hero, part sci-fi, part fairy-tale.'

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Reader Reviews

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Review by Richard (301108) Rating (9/10)
Review by Chrissi
(100208) Rating (6/10)

Review by Richard
Rating 9/10
I love Douglas Adams, Terry Pratchett, Robert Rankin and many other such authors for their clever threading together of absurdity into seamless, nonsensical narratives. I am a primary (elementary) school teacher who wants to share that world with my kids. I have two conundrums that face me: 1. I don't necessarily want my 12 year old boys reading some of the mature content, and 2. I don't want to play to the belief that boys need an 'easy read' to remain engaged in a book.

Enter the 13½ Lives of Captain Bluebear. This was a book which I stumbled across some 5 years ago in an old movie theatre bookstore. I now own 10 copies of it and many, many students have read it as well as Rumo (another Zamonian Saga).

Sure, as an adult you might well have something better to do with your time than read 700 pages of fanciful adventures that are barely begun when they skip off to another.
Sure, as an adult you might find the themes of the narrative a little disjointed.

But I, as a fellow adult, see magic where you may see these 'problems'. I've seen this story open up the world of not only reading, but the use of a dictionary for many students - young and old.

This story - rightly called a cult classic - offers more than meets the eye. Ask a twelve year old what the main themes of the story are and you will encounter a universe of understanding that you had not bargained for.
Courage, weakness, determination, respect, gluttony, care, intellect, lust, humility, education... Who is Bluebear? He is the best and worst of all of us.

While I may never fall through a dimensional hiatus, I can certainly claim to know a friend who has. That friend - a blue bear - will be my friend for life now. And THAT is worth 9 out of 10 at least.
Richard (30th November 2008)

Review by Chrissi
Rating 6/10
Imagine a scene - a random staff tearoom in a well known bookshop with an aquatic nature on a High Street near you. A conversation is in progress, and judging by the verbal shorthand employed it is one of those conversations whose rules were laid down a long while ago; it does not need anything other than a 'what if' to start up again. The subject of the conversation is what book they can convince some unsuspecting punter to buy. They might get points or they might get a slap on the back, or they might just feel a little better about their day for a little while.

I know that there are some jobs out there which are not nice - if you have to deal with the general public and you don't actually like people then that must be dreadful. (I speak as a member of the general public when I say that if you don't like people then don't get a job front of house so to speak, there is nothing worse than being served by someone who really does not want to be there). I know as well that there are little jokes and competitions in which staff indulge to make the time go quicker, and those which take out the staff frustration on the hated punters must be great, but when you take off your uniform at the end of the day, you should not tell anyone about your japes because they are cruel and puerile.

I do think that I fell for one of this type of jokes when this tome was foisted on me. Now, in itself it is not a bad book, but to have it recommended in glowing terms as an all-time favourite and the best thing since sliced bread was not really correct. For a start, I would not recommend it as a good read for another adult. It would be lovely for a child of about eight or ten, but for an adult, it was neither funny enough nor absurd enough. It is one of those books which kind of meanders along, the narrative is just a way of getting to the various scenarios which the author has envisaged. The absurdity is a goal to be stretched for and the comic asides a literary vehicle to assist in tying the story together, but to anyone used to books which have a united theme, albeit with double crosses and red herrings, this was just hard work. I know that it suffered for me because, as a lover of Douglas Adams and Terry Pratchett, I know how much well placed and well observed absurd asides can add to a story.

I am sorry, I've thought on how I wanted to do this review and whilst I would have said that a book for an older child would be good, for an adult it just does not work. So I have a conundrum, either the sales person who recommended it to me has never read it, and was aiming for a sales figure, or the staff were having a slow day and resorted to playing one of those games but either way, it completely put me off taking a blind bit of notice of any recommendation made by a sales assistant in one of their bookshops. Shame.
Chrissi (10th February 2008)

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