Saturday, August 9, 2014

Review: The 9 Lives of Alexander Baddenfield

Title: The 9 Lives of Alexander Baddenfield
Author: John Bemelmans Marciano, Sophie Blackall
Format: ARC
Pub. Date: October 3rd 2013
Source: Goodreads First reads.


Three and a half stars.


The Baddenfield family has always been filled with scoundrels, living up to the bad in Baddenfield. And for centuries, they've been cursed to die young, despite the Winterbottoms, a family who has always served (and tried) to protect their horrible bosses. Alexander is twelve years old, and as bad as the rest of them. He hatches a brilliant plan- to take the surplus lives away from his pet cat, and transplant them into his body. He starts to live like never before, having been overprotected by Winterbottom, but eventually his lives start to dwindle, and he has to try and change his reckless ways before he lives up to the Baddenfield curse.

I have to say, that as an adult, I really liked this book. It's dark and a bit macabre in the same vein as writers like Roald Dahl, Lemony Snicket, and Tim Burton. The illustrations that accompany the text go with that theme as well, giving it a spooky, bad-guy type feel.

I also really liked the smartness with which this book was written. It integrates a few Spanish words, some references to mythology, and his cat's name is even Shaddenfrood. There was also a fair bit of humor and snark, that made be chuckle aloud. It was easy to read and understand, and was well detailed. Among other things that I enjoyed about this read was the actual printing itself. The pictures that separate paragraphs actually count down his deaths, something I didn't notice until he only had two remaining. Plus, stuff like print fading to illustrate his blacking out happens within the book, which I think was a nice touch.

Perhaps the best part of this children's book is the overall message that can be taken away from it. Alexander learns too late that while it is dangerous to be reckless and to act without thinking, it is also dangerous to stay inside, afraid of living life cooped up inside. It takes a fine balance of both to be happy and healthy.

That all being said, I have to look at this from the perspective of a parent or a child (of which I am neither) since this book is intended for a younger audience. This book deals with things like death. A lot. And not all of Alexander's deaths are pleasant. Some are quite gory or violent. I recommend that this is for a more mature child's reading age, for those who can understand death fully and still find humor in it. If you're a parent or adult who walks a bit on the darker side (guilty as charged) this may be right up your alley. Just be warned that this book doesn't spare many details. And the ending, while it made me chuckle, was definitely continuing the trend of dark implications.

All in all, I think this book has good illustrations and good writing, as well as a good message. I do however warn that this book deals heavily with death and injury, though it is spun in a humorous if dark way.

Thanks to Goodreads First Reads program for sending me a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.


  1. I definitely need to read this book, it sounds right up my alley and is my type of humor.

  2. Happy you like this one. Not really my thing but I love learning about new books.

  3. Daughter age 11 checked out this book think it’s a bit too gory for her . Won’t be letting her read it . Glad I came across your blog . Ty

    1. Thanks for your insight! :) Glad I could help