Muddle and Win: The Battle for Sally Jones – John Dickinson

“Pandemonium is a place. To get there you go down. 

That’s not ‘down’ as in the bottom of a mine. You can go to the deepest mine you like and dig and dig and dig until there’s so much air pressing on top of you that it squashes you to treacle. But you don’t get to Pandemonium that way. It’s the other sort of down.”
In Sally’s world people how lifetime deed counters (LDC’s) not that they know about them. The angels and demons from up and down keep an eye on the LDC’s and when someone needs balancing out an angel and a demon are summoned to do the job. Sally’s LDC is seriously unbalanced and things aren’t looking good for the demons of Pandemonium. Muddlespot, a walking talking wart of a demon, literally, is chosen to undertake the job of getting Sally’s LDC to register at least one bad deed. But he better watch out because Windleberry, a tuxedo clad, square, ray-ban wearing angel is on the lookout for him. 

I loved the sound of this one when I heard about it at the RHCP book blogger brunch in June and I couldn’t wait to get round to it. Now I have finally got round to it I can see just why I was so excited for it; because its brilliant! 
The story is pretty strange to be honest. But its a great tale for younger teens and pre-teens, to teach them a thing or two about being good and bad and how not everything is always black and white. It does this in a completely none preachy and very funny way too so I think most younger readers, even those who are looking for something more challenging will enjoy this one. 
Muddle and Win is told in a very unique third person style voice which speaks directly to the reader in places, or appears to, and I really enjoyed it right from the start, however there were mixed characters that it focussed on and at the very beginning of the book I wasn’t suite sure what was going on. The reader is thrown right in with a mixture of character perspectives and its not until quite late in that we are introduced to Muddle or Win. 
Once we are introduced to these main characters though I couldn’t get enough of them. I loved Muddle because for a demon he was pretty clueless. I got the feeling that he would rather not be messing around in Sally’s head and that he was only doing it because it was a situation he found himself in. Win was ok but he didn’t feature as much as I thought he would, when he was around though I was really amused by him. His sense of humour was very dry in places and I loved it! Corozin was scary and mean and I really didn’t like him, he was so selfish and bossy! Other demons and angels that we meet are brilliant too and I loved the card games that Scattletail and Ismael played to decide who gave the instructions to Billie. Sally, both inner and outer Sally, was brilliant and I really felt for her. You could see that there were cracks in the shiny, good-y front that she put on and I loved that her Inner self really brought that forward for the reader. Billie was awful but as you got further into the book you started to question just why she was doing the things she did. 
The only thing that I didn’t really get from Muddle and Win was its intended audience. I’d like to think the book was aimed at the 9-12 age range and the language of the book reflects this, however at times the content seemed a bit older, especially whilst the school that Sally and Billie attend was mentioned. For example a battle was mentioned… “There’s the usual battle to keep cigarettes, alcohol and drugs out of the school” and I wouldn’t expect drugs especially to be mentioned within a book for this age range. I don’t know why but it threw me off completely and because of that I would probably suggest an age range of 11 plus. 
I can’t say much more about Muddle and Win other than the fact its a brilliant, funny story about good and bad which is so well written that even slower, less capable readers will probably get through it in a day or two. I really enjoyed the story and think that so many pre-teens will too, its a great, fun read with a brilliant serious message underneath it all. 
Muddle and Win: The Battle for Sally Jones will be published by David Fickling Books on August 30th. My copy was received in exchange for an honest review from the publisher. 


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