Who Censored Roger Rabbit? by Gary K. Wolf
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
This book is completely different from the movie it inspired, the movie I’ve loved since I was a kid and have found layers to appreciate as an adult. It isn’t bad, it’s just wholly different. I’ve written in some reviews on here and in other places that in the past few years I’ve come to terms with the idea of adaptations. Movies and books will never be perfectly similar because adaptations require each to play to the strengths of the medium in which it’s in. This, however, is much more than an adaptation. The movie took 80% of the same characters and the thinnest connection to the plot in here and then made its own thing. And that’s good, because this book’s plot points are quite a bit too convoluted for a movie, especially a mass-market movie.
Getting away from comparisons and to this book itself, it’s a nice homage to noir detective novels and the first person voice is pretty fun to read. Detective Valiant’s sarcasm and world-weariness are a treat. The mystery is fun to solve and doesn’t seem to be poorly written – most of the difficulty in predicting it ahead of time has to do with unreliable witnesses. The world Wolf crafts is also an interesting one of toon/human segregation. There are some analogies to race-based segregation, but nothing that beats you over the head with a moral. Wolf also creates a demented cast of characters to populate the world that make for a fun time as he interrogates them.
Overall, it’s a fun read if you’re a fan of the noir detective genre and don’t expect it to hew too closely to the movie Who Framed Roger Rabbit. (view spoiler)[Interestingly, the final or penultimate plot twist (depending on how you look at it) is definitely derived from the book – both involve toons masquerading as human) (hide spoiler)]