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Monday, September 15, 2014

Review: IF YOU'RE READING THIS, IT'S TOO LATE by Pseudonymous Bosch

Title: If You're Reading This, It's Too Late
Author: Pseudonymous Bosch
Pub info: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 2008; 400 pp
Genre / Audience: mystery & magic / ages 9+
Caveats for Younger Readers: none, but the length may seem daunting

Having read Book #1 of the Secrets series, I was happy to reacquaint myself with Cass and Max-Ernest for Book #2. And who can resist the latest character addition, Yo-Yoji?

Goodreads summary:
Beware! Dangerous secrets lie between the pages of this book.

OK, I warned you. But if you think I'll give anything away, or tell you that this is the sequel to my first literary endeavor, The Name of This Book is Secret, you're wrong.

I'm not going to remind you of how we last left our heroes, Cass and Max-Ernest, as they awaited initiation into the mysterious Terces Society, or the ongoing fight against the evil Dr. L and Ms. Mauvais. I certainly won't be telling you about how the kids stumble upon the Museum of Magic, where they finally meet the amazing Pietro!

Oh, blast! I've done it again. Well, at least I didn't tell you about the missing Sound Prism, the nefarious Lord Pharaoh, or the mysterious creature born in a bottle over 500 years ago, the key to the biggest secret of all.

I really can't help myself, now can I? Let's face it---if you're reading this, it's too late.

Status: finished 9/6/14

My impressions:
Take another look at the Goodreads summary. That's the voice of the author. If you don't mind an author being intrusive--sometimes a bit in your face--then you'll be fine. If this kind of thing gets on your nerves, however, it will wear thin throughout this book. As reviewers have noted, there's more than a nod to Lemony Snicket in these pages. (Also: Be advised that the introductory chapter is not indicative of how the writer tells the rest of the story. He really does fade into the background.)

Generally, the Bosch voice intrudes in the form of footnotes, which are easy to ignore. I find these asides funny, but towards the end of the book I was skimming them because I was much more interested in Cass, Max-Ernest, and their new friend, Yo-Yoji. This is a fun, fast-paced mystery with a bit of magic and alchemy thrown in, and a nicely turned dynamic on the three friends and the decidedly preadolescent feelings that crop up between them. This is a tighter, easier to navigate tale than The Name of This Book Is Secret, and you won't be totally lost if you've not read that one, either. This volume stands on its own and just may send you back to see how the story began.

About Pseudonymous:
As you may have guessed, Pseudo (as his friends call him) likes to keep things under wraps. His official bio reads: "Pseudonymous Bosch is the anonymous pseudonymous author of the Secret Series. Not much is known about him other than that he has a passionate love of chocolate and cheese and an equally passionate hatred of mayonnaise. Rumors of Boschian sightings are just as frequent and about as reliable as reports of alien abductions. If you ever meet anyone claiming to be Pseudonymous himself he is almost certainly an impostor. The real Pseudonymous is said currently to be hiding in a cave in a remote jungle (although there are contrary reports that he is somewhere in Greenland)." The best-selling, award-winning Secret Series is complete (a total of five books), and Pseudo's newest series, Bad Magic, debuts tomorrow, September 16!

Kids and adults who love mysterious websites will get a kick out of Bosch's The Name of This Website Is Secret, which gives you news and fun info on his books and appearances, as well as his very funny Pseudo Blog. I would have been all over this site as a kid. He also maintains a Facebook page and Twitter account, though he claims to be antisocial. A superfun video about the books and two persistent young reporters out to discover Bosch's true identity can be found here.

Want to win a free copy of this book? The first Monday of each month features a giveaway of any of the titles I've reviewed the previous month. Pick your fave, enter, and win! Next giveaway: October 6.  SIGN UP HERE TO RECEIVE A BRIEF EMAIL WHENEVER A NEW GIVEAWAY BEGINS.

To follow my progress as I bulldoze my way through a stack of 51 to-be-reads this year, search for the tag 2014 TBR Shelf. Read all the reviews here

And be sure to visit Shannon Messenger's blog to see more fun links to great middle-grade reads and giveaways!


  1. Sounds like a great series for mystery loving readers with a touch of magic thrown in. I have not read the first but it sounds like this one stands on its own just fine. Thanks for featuring and I'm adding it to my TBR list.

    1. You're welcome, Greg! This series is a lot of fun.

  2. I love the titles and the concept of this series, but I haven't been able to get past the narrative voice. If it gets less intrusive then maybe I should try again.

    1. I can't remember if the first volume used the footnotes method or not. As I recall it, the asides were just running in with the text, which I found distracting. The footnotes make it much easier to ignore it. I agree, it gets heavy-handed at times.

  3. Hmmmm. That authorial voice would get old after a short while. But this sounds like something kids would really like. Thanks for the review.

  4. Replies
    1. I know--it's like "Abandon hope, all ye who enter here"!

  5. This sounds like a lot of fun. The book I featured today, A Whole Nother Story, is often compared to Bosch. I will have to check this out! I love books where the narrator has asides.