What If Being the Chosen One Kind of Sucks?: 'Crap Kingdom' by DC Pierson
In Crap Kingdom, all Tom Parking wants is to be taken away to another world where he’s someone special. But as anyone who’s read a lot of books knows, the only kids who get whisked away to magical worlds are the kids whose evil guardians make them sleep under the stairs. Tom’s mother is perfectly nice and loving. The nerve of her! Sure, she might care about Tom and make him dinner, but “what about his opportunity to ride a winged beast at the head of a ragtag force of fantasy creatures battling tyranny in a faraway land?”
Tom’s pretty sure he’ll be stuck in his boring regular life forever. That is, until he actually does get taken away to another world where he’s the Chosen One. But things aren’t exactly how he imagined they would be. For starters, the portal to this world is actually a clothing donation box in a K-Mart parking lot. Also, this world is covered in garbage, everyone’s ceaselessly negative, and they use toilets as over-sized cocktail glasses.
What happens after that is a story that takes a typical adolescent fantasy and turns it into something new. I mean, who didn’t daydream about being a Chosen One when they were a kid? Maybe you imagined that someday, someone would show up and tell you that you were, in fact, a princess, and now everyone would have to respect you and definitely no one would make fun of your braces anymore (that one may or may not be a personal example). But what if your new kingdom kind of sucks?
Tom has to make a lot of decisions in the rest of the story, and he learns a lot about himself, but don’t worry! Crap Kingdom is no cheesy afterschool special. It’s funny and weird and smart.
The actual plot of Crap Kingdom is unique and interesting, but so is the story behind how DC Pierson marketed the book. He offered to put the name of everyone who preordered the book into a custom rap song. You know who’s never done that? Joyce Carol Oates. You can be the judge of whether DC Pierson is a better writer than her, but we can all agree that he certainly has a greater willingness to rap. Step up your game, Joyce Carol Oates!
Another thing Joyce Carol Oates doesn’t do (I don’t know why I’m picking on my girl Joyce so much…I actually really like her!) is write honest, interesting Tumblr posts. You can read what DC had to say about self-doubt versus trying really hard to do something. Or you can read his post about maybe not getting the exact thing you wanted but still doing something pretty great anyway. Both of those posts are what encouraged me to buy the book, and they’re well worth the read.
-If you want to know more about DC Pierson and Crap Kingdom, you can listen to one of the roughly million podcasts he’s been on lately. I especially recommend his episode of Julie Klausner’s fantastic podcast, How Was Your Week. He talks about all the different types of drama kids, and although I was never involved in drama in high school, I think you could sub in “marching band kids” and get the same effect.
-If you inexplicably don’t trust my opinion as much as that of hilarious, insightful comedians, never fear! Here are some of the all-around awesome people who blurbed the book: Patton Oswalt, Donald Glover, Megan Amram, Chris Gethard, and John Hodgman. Those people are all much funnier and smarter than me, so you should probably just listen to what they say and buy Crap Kingdom post haste.
-If you love Crap Kingdom and want more, you can read DC Pierson’s other book, The Boy Who Couldn’t Sleep and Never Had To.
What about you guys? Have you read Crap Kingdom? Do you plan to pick it up? Let me know in the comments! And, as always, I love to hear your suggestions for books to feature in Young Adult Education. Leave a comment, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or find me on Twitter @KerryAnn.