Murgatroyd Floyd, star of The Oddfits and a native Singaporean born in-country to expatriates, doesn’t fit in with his family, who mistreats him, his schoolmates, who bully him, or Singapore in general, in which his blonde, blue-eyed appearance permanently mark him as an outsider.
But, as it turns out, his feelings of being a misfit go much deeper than that: Floyd is an “oddfit,” capable of entering the “more known world” that lies adjacent to this one, though unperceptible to most. The question is: will he accept his identity and place in this other world or not? Or will the world itself and its various malevolent operatives deny him?
I have very little experience with young adult literature…leaving me feeling more than a little like an oddfit myself, glimpsing only slightly a whole world of writing I should be comparing this to. Maybe the Harry Potter series itself was embedded in a rich history of young adult fantasy I know nothing about, but this book certainly embraced the same themes: the misfit protagonist with powers he doesn’t know he has, the forces that rise against him, the revelation that his own powers are greater than most even though he doesn’t know it, the parallel world kept secret from the (essentially) non-magical, the terrible parents, etc. I have no way of knowing whether this is part of a grander tradition or perhaps the inescapable influence of J. K. Rowling.
But there was much in this book for an inexperienced adult reader like myself to like. I enjoyed the occasional digressions from description to excited lists, and the descriptions of Singapore—and the food!
The characters, but for Floyd, were extremely thinly drawn…occasionally entertaining, but ultimately without much for a reader to sink his or her teeth into. This is forgiveable—or at least less frustrating than it might be—because the book taps into primal feelings of exclusion and the desire, or belief that one is destined, to do and be something better than we are in a world that is better than this one.