This is for bookelfe/skygiants. Of course. (Yes, I'm out of order.)

I’m sticking with books here. A lot of manga and anime operates on different narrative rules, so the bizarreness makes wacky internal sense. I do have to mention, though, the complete works of Kaori Yuki if you have any interest in things like random flying Heavenly whales, apocalypse by army of flying zombie angel embryos, and people getting turned into masses of writhing tentacles and kept in the bathtub.

Even so, it was very, very difficult to narrow this down to five. There are bizarre premises (“I will break every bone in my body because then they’ll grow back stronger and I WILL BE INVINCIBLE”), the sheer weight of ridiculousness in a single book (the bone-breaking book also featured the near-death of the hero’s milk-allergic brother when the hero’s cheating girlfriend ate pizza, then kissed the brother), the sudden intrusion of absurdity into a previously non-bizarre book (two-thirds sensitive exploration of sketchy power dynamics, one third EVIL BALL OF MASKED S&M SMALL PRESS POETS), and unwanted intrusions by the author’s peculiar id (of course the most desirable whores have hooves.) Not to mention Terry Goodkind's infamous evil chicken. How to choose?

I have so many contenders that I was forced to name winners in categories.

Most Stupid Protagonist

Runner-Up: Oscar, the hero of Myke Cole’s Control Point. When faced with the difficult decision of who he should get help from— a) his best friend, b) a friendly acquaintance, or c) the sociopathic supervillain who is currently locked up after going on a mass slaughter rampage but who promises to help him out if he’ll only release her from the magical wards laid on her to stop her from slaughtering everyone in sight— guess who he picks?

Winner: Summer in Mary Brown’s Master of Many Treasures, for failing to get rid of a traveling companion whom she easily could get rid of, after he repeatedly and deliberately endangers her and all the rest of her companions, including trying to kill a friend of hers in a random fit of temper. Also for ignoring all advice by people who clearly have her best interest in mind, and taking all advice by people holding up HI I AM EVIL signs, and for failing to learn from very consistent consequences, like falling into quicksand full of rotting corpses because she couldn’t bear to take her best friend’s advice that the left-hand path led to the Swamp of Rotting Corpses. Also for believing that a good excuse for stalking her dragon ex-boyfriend is explaining that she actually fell in love with him when she thought he was a flying pig.

This doesn’t have anything to do with her intelligence, but I just want to mention that during the course of the book, she lays an egg.

Once Is Tragedy, One Million Times Is Hilarity

Crazy-Beautiful, by Lauren Baratz-Logsted

Gee, if I'd known spilling my orange juice was this effective, I'd have spilled it in Dad's direction every day when I was younger. Then maybe he'd have made time to do things with me like, I don't know, play catch in the yard. Not that I'm complaining or playing the neglected child card. I'll never do that. I know what I've done. I know who's responsible for everything in my life, past, present, and future. Still, a little catch would have been fun, when I still had hands.

And what of me and my hands? Or, I should say, lack of hands.

I finish loading the dryer, hookload by hookload, use my hook to set the dial at seventy minutes, use my hook to depress the button.

Most Ridiculous Plot Twists


All books by Sheri Tepper. Future ones too. Every Sheri Tepper book in which infanticide is presented as the solution to the problems of the world. Also the one where the heroine turns out to be a de-aged squid-person. She might lay an egg too, I forget.

The indie gangster movie, name forgotten, in which the screenwriter’s poorly thought-through desire to add on one more surprise reveal meant that the entire action of the movie consisted of a drug lord hiring people to steal his own drugs.

The Isobelle Carmody books with the love quadrangle between two humans and two transformed dogs.

Dan Simmons’ The Rise of Endymion. The climactic revelation of the entire series is that quantum strings are made out of love.

Frank Herbert’s God-Emperor of Dune. It makes sense in context, but I still find it hilarious that the climax consists of the main character becoming a million worms.

Lord of Legends, by Susan Krinard. I still have no idea why the heroine’s housekeeper turned into a talking fox.

And finally… drum roll… the winner!

Spider Robinson’s Starseed. The heroine is paralyzed via drugs, has multiple bad guys holding guns on her, and isabout to be killed. As her last request, she asks for a moment to meditate. When they grant it, she achieves enlightenment. This enables her to become telepathic, overcome the effects of the paralyzing drug, and slaughter the bad guys with kung fu.
This book is so crazily, beautifully, awesomely bad that it was reviewed as a birthday present for me by two different friends, without either knowing what the other had planned. It’s so awesomely bad that it comes out the other side and becomes almost good. I certainly enjoyed reading it, and frequently laughed aloud.

(Reviews by Coraa, Octopedingenue, and Rushthatspeaks.)

Remarkably, despite having read three extremely detailed reviews of it, I was still completely boggled and amused by reading the book itself, which, despite being a very short, quick read, still contained tons of WTF that none of the other reviews touched upon. All else aside, you have to read the whole thing to get the hilarious number of times that the hero reminds us that he has HOOKS FOR HANDS.

This is a YA retelling of “Beauty and the Beast,” in which Beauty is gorgeous, perfect, loving, kind, empathic, (though not smart) teenager Aurora Belle, and the Beast is Lucius Wolfe, a bright, angry, alienated teenager who accidentally blew off both his hands while mixing up chemicals (three guesses what he was trying to make) and now has HOOKS FOR HANDS.

Before I continue, I want to note that I am not mocking actual amputees. I am mocking this author’s depiction of the angst of HOOKS FOR HANDS.

I am dubious about retellings of “Beauty and the Beast” in which beastliness is a disability. It probably could be done well, but it strikes me as a bit inherently sketchy. (My favorite retellings are the very traditional but beautifully done Beauty: A Retelling of the Story of Beauty and the Beast
by Robin McKinley, and Lois McMaster Bujold’s “Borders of Infinity,” in which the Beast is a female genetically engineered super-soldier, and Beauty is a disabled soldier who isn’t actually good-looking. (The latter is in Miles Errant (Miles Vorkosigan Adventures))

One of the things which makes this book especially fascinating is that the author has some skills, and is, at times, funny on purpose. That made me spend the entire first third wondering if the entire thing was supposed to be funny, and if everyone was misreading what was actually a brilliant comedy parodying angsty teen romance. I… don’t think so?

It’s understandable that a teenage boy who blew off his hands only a few months ago and now has HOOKS FOR HANDS would be obsessed with having HOOKS FOR HANDS. But the sheer number of times which he mentions his HOOKS FOR HANDS – generally at least once per page, and often two to ten times per page – makes it into a running joke impossible to take seriously, no matter how carefully the author drops earnest paragraphs educating us on prosthetic limbs via Aurora Belle’s sympathetic googling.

Speaking of googling, one of the accidentally hilarious running themes was the total information vacuum the characters all live in. Lucius calls Johnny Cash “Johnny Crash,” has not only never heard of the play or movie Grease but spends some time pondering the nature of a movie about “rendered animal fat,” and, in one of my favorite moments in the entire book, has to google the mysterious, arcane, exotic term "football."

Here are some actual quotes regarding HOOKS FOR HANDS.

I finish loading the dryer, hookload by hookload, use my hook to set the dial at seventy minutes, use my hook to depress the button. )

Oh, wait. I have to share one more quote. This is Aurora Belle explaining how soundly she has always slept: …it was like trying to diaper a dead baby.

In a weird way… I kind of recommend this book. It has more WTF per page than almost anything I’ve ever read, and I have to tip my hat to that.

Crazy Beautiful


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