TITLE: Down the Rabbit Hole
AUTHOR: Juan Pablo Villalobos
PUBLISHER: FSG Originals
Quote: "If you're not a king you can wear a hat to be distinguished. And if you're not a king and you don't wear a hat you end up being a nobody."
Overview: Tochtli, a young boy and son of a cartel leader, lives sequestered in his father's guarded "palace." He spends his days reading the dictionary, watching Samurai movies and collecting hats. Tochtli, like his father, is focused on what he wants, and usually gets it. He becomes determined to capture a Liberian pygmy hippopotamus to add to his collection of exotic animals. In order to appease Tochtli, his father takes him to Liberia in search of this endangered animal.
Analysis: Down The Rabbit Hole is the debut novel by Juan Pablo Villalobos. It could be described as a novella, as it can be read in one sitting. I loved the tone and pace of this book and how it provides a somewhat innocent perspective and incomplete understanding of the events surrounding the young narrator. Villalobos fills the pages with irony and humor (dark at times) amidst a captivating and laughable plot. As the story progresses, it becomes clear that the narrator's unorthodox upbringing has allowed certain sociopathic and psychopathic tendencies to manifest which will likely push him down a similar road as his father. But that's just a sidenote that is never fully developed, for good reason. Instead we are left with an outrageous son of a cartel leader on a quest to secure himself an exotic hippo to add to his collection. I highly suggest Villalobos if you enjoy irony, magical realism, humor, social issues and Mexican culture. Stay tuned for reviews of his two other novels.
Conclusion: Down the Rabbit Hole is a short, fun and absurd read whose depth exceeds its page count. Get yourself a copy!