Who Censored Roger Rabbit, by Gary K. Wolf

So, did anyone else know that the beloved movie Who Framed Roger Rabbit was actually based on a book? I was not aware until late last year. When I found out, I promptly downloaded the book and began to read. I was very excited, but unfortunately, the book did not live up to my expectations. We always hear the saying, ‘the book is better than the movie.’ In this case, it was not. The movie is a cherished memory from my childhood. The book… yeah… well… not so much.  

Now, I don’t normally give one or two star reviews. The reason is not because I want to always say I love this book or I like this book, or even this book was okay. It’s because when I start off with a book, and I think it’s going to be a one-star/two-star review, I never commit and finish it. There are far too many books out there and not enough time. It isn’t fair to an author to get a critical review from someone who didn’t finish their book, so that is why I don’t give many low-star reviews.  

Who Censored Roger Rabbit totally caught me, though. It didn’t turn into a two-star review until the very last pages.  

Now, I did like the concept of this book. Apparently, a lot of other people did as well considering it was turned into a brilliant movie. There are some differences, of course, as the book is filled with comic strip toons. You still get Roger Rabbit, Jessica Rabbit, the weird baby, and a multitude of other toons. Again, not cartoons, but comic strip toons, complete with word bubbles and all. This was an okay change between the mediums. The cartoon characters in the movie were wonderful, and the comic strip characters worked really well on the page.  

Now, for me to really give this book a full review, and to my reasoning as to why I could only find a couple starts to throw at it, I would have to spoil the entire book. I guess I will go ahead and do that, so consider this your warning.


Like, major spoilers. The whole book kinda spoilers. Only read this post if you don’t ever plan on reading this book.

Got it? 

Here we go.  

So, when you start reading this book, you fall into the perspective of Private Investigator Eddie Valliant. It is a true gumshoe novel and a classic case of whodunits. I don’t read a lot of these books, so I was amused with the phrasing at first. However, I started this book last year, and I actually read it instead of listening to it. (I normally have a book I’m reading, as well as an audiobook that I’m listening to at the same time.) I think this was the perfect book to let sit on the back burner as it didn’t seem to demand my attention.

That should’ve been my first clue. Yet I pressed on.

Now, the flowery gumshoe prose was really creative, and I did like it, but it got to be too much at times. Every sentence was a gumshoe phrase. That is why I’m going to give this book an extra star. It took some creativity to come up with all the phrasing used in this book, and even though it came off as a little heavy-handed, the author gets props for that. 

But then… We start off with Roger Rabbit dead. What? Yeah, you heard me. Roger Rabbit is dead. That didn’t happen in the movie. If he’s really dead, how is he in the other books the author has written? That’s a very good question. One I thought the end of the book would answer and yet… No.   

So, in the book, toons have doppelgangers, The doppelgänger can do chores, run errands, handle all the dangerous comic-strip stunts so the real toon doesn’t get hurt. It just takes a little effort and some concentration, and BLAMO, they’ve got an identical replica of themselves ready to do their bidding and that will dissolve within a couple hours. Oh, the possibilities…   

Okay, that’s interesting. So, supposedly, the original Roger Rabbit is dead, and we are solving his murder with his doppelgänger that he created the day he died. The doppelgänger apparently had a little extra juice thrown his way, so he was able to stay alive and help Mr. Valiant through his case. Now Jessica Rabbit and Roger Rabbit are estranged at the beginning of the book, and somehow, I kept thinking the book was going to turn around with some plot twist that showed Jessica and Roger were truly in love. I mean, he makes her laugh, right? Apparently, only in the movies. Jessica Rabbit is actually just a shallow whore who hates Roger with all her being. Like… For real. She is BAD and it wasn’t the way she was drawn.

There goes a little of my childhood. 

So, it looks like Jessica killed Roger. Roger, who actually is very much in love with Jessica, does not believe it. He needs Valiant to not only solve the crime of who killed some other dude that I don’t even care about, as well as make sure everyone knows Jessica did not kill Roger.   

Also, there’s a teakettle everybody wants. The mystery around this teakettle is actually what kept me coming back for more.  

Well, turns out, this teakettle is actually a lantern. Like, I’m talking Aladdin-style, I dream of Genie in a bottle, grant me my three wishes, lantern. This was revealed very late in the book. Like, climactic scene late. All the suspects that we were interviewing and trying to solve this case on? Yeah, completely pointless. The magical dues ex machina was the true killer all along. Oh, didn’t see that coming? I don’t know why. Everyone should always see the magical genie was the one who did it. The one that wasn’t supposed to ever exist. The one that you didn’t learn about until the last three pages of the frigging book.

Oh, and do you wonder how hard it is to destroy an evil, all-powerful Genie? Only the pure of heart dumping the lantern into the ocean can kill a Genie. Everyone knows that! It’s sure going to be hard since our town is landlocked. Also, where are you going to find someone who’s ‘pure of heart’ since everyone in this book seems to be a gigantic asshole and our hero is a raging, cynical alcoholic?

Turns out, it wasn’t as hard as it sounds. Good thing alcohol only destroys the liver and not the heart, but what about the ocean?? 

Oh, Valiant just happens to spot a conveniently placed saltwater fish tank that just so happened to be right in the room evil Genie was released in. Poof, dead evil genie. In three pages.  


And the worst part? No, the genie being the killer wasn’t the worst part. The worst part was that Roger Rabbit was actually a huge douche. There was no pah-pah-pah-please Eddie. Roger was actually trying to frame Valiant for the murder that Roger committed, because… Roger is evil and a murderer.   

My entire childhood has been destroyed now.  

I think I have a movie to watch to refresh some displaced memories.   

Okay, this book really, really annoyed me, and I know a lot of people have asked for reviews from me because my reviews are passionate when I like a book. I believe that’s true, because when I like a book I go on and on and on and on about it, but as stated before, I normally abandon a book that would be a one or two-star review.

Now, here is what happens when you get a one or two-star review for me. Equally as passionate, although probably somewhat offensive to the original author. That’s something I don’t want to do, being an author myself. Those low-star reviews really hurt. So, here is what I’m going to do. I know Who Censored Roger Rabbit was the very first book that was published by this author. As you know, first books can sometimes be a really rocky road. I will give this author another chance and pick up another one of his books. The reason why I will do that, is because this book did have promise. It’s possible that the beloved movie skewed my perception of the book. (Ya think?) So, this review might not be totally fair, but it’s truthful. I think the author deserves another chance.

Man, do I hate giving one star reviews.


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