The controversy last year (or whenever the hey-hah it was) about removing the n-word from Huck Finn or order to protect the sensitive squishy minds of college students everywhere gave me a swift kick in the butt about re-reading this.
But I didn't. The kick, it was not swift enough. Also? I read this in middle school and HATED it. This was back when something like personal preference about not liking to read dialects still influenced my opinions of a work as a whole (this is still how it is [for I am still 12]). Yes, my friends, it's true. I eye-rolled and huffed my way through it not because I didn't like the story or the characters, not because there were too many commas and not enough paragraph breaks, but simply because reading a written accent gave (gives) me a headache.
AUDIOBOOKS TO THE RESCUE! Why didn't I think of this a bajillion years ago? I'm from the south, baby, and no audible drawl will make me flinch! What genius! So. Off to the library I trudged, and into the CD player went the Twain. Success! I HEART IT'S FACE! Right? It's so sarcastic, how could I not love it? I will admit that driving around town listening to a loud CD that kept saying the n-word over and over (without the accompanying heavy beat that somehow makes it ok) made me a little self-conscious, but I got over it.
ANYWOOT. Thing I Did Not Like: Uh, the end? I felt like it trivialized slavery, and Jim's separation from his family and desperation to see his family, to have Huck and Tom f*ck around for weeks and weeks trying to recreate the escape from The Count of Monte Cristo. Of course, this just showed how desensitized the children were to the evils of slavery (and how ridiculous the "kind master" crap is), but I really just wanted to take them out back and make them pick a switch, if you get my drift. And I think you do (MY DRIFT IS THEY NEED A SPANKING).
Things I Did Like: Everything else. The King and the Duke parts were especially entertaining, probably because they reminded me so much of a Dickensian group of characters (the King, Duke, and victims). In fact, the whole thing sorta gave me an Oliver Twist Down on the Mississippi feeling, what with the grotesquely absurd villans and the not-so-hidden moral and the resourceful, scrappy, classless and lovable main character. In fact, I would say Twain is an excellent alternative for those who want classic social satire without the length, and with more sarcasm.
Summary: crazily funny, Dickens for the lazy, those boys need a beating, listen to the audiobook
Four stars out of your mom