Floors, by Patrick Carman

When it comes to Patrick Carman, I usually end up damning with faint praise: his books are, y'know, fine. His 2011 novel Floors maintains his record of being totally inoffensive—I've read better, and I've read worse.

Floors borrows heavily (like, really heavily) from Roald Dahl's Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, but with most of the darker bits taken out. The story centers around 10-year-old Leo Filmore, the son of the maintenance man in charge of New York City's Whippet Hotel, a fantastical space full of impossible rooms, a smattering of ultra-wealthy residents, and a flock of highly intelligent ducks. When the Whippet's eccentric owner disappears, he leaves Leo a series of clues that will either let him in on every secret the hotel holds... or get him and his father fired.

Before reading Floors, I had never had an occasion to consider what I liked best about Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, but now I've given the matter some thought: Dahl's assortment of deliciously weird minor characters, all of whom I found far more entertaining than his descriptions of imaginary candy. (Candy is only of interest to me if I can eat it.) Carman displays flashes of equally whimsical characterization, but he never takes things far enough—his villain is one-note, the hotel's oddball residents are underdeveloped, and we aren't allowed enough time with my favorite minor characters: Jane, a spoiled little girl with a short temper and a shin-kick like a mule, and a tiny, chatty robot named Blop.

I must accept, however, that plenty of children have never read Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and Floors would probably be improved by having no source material to compare it to. Leo's clue hunt was forgettable (and the pay-off was downright irritating), but Carman's lavishly imagined setting and likeable characters add up to a reasonably pleasant way to pass a few hours. Like I said: you could do better (and read Dahl's original), but you could certainly do plenty worse.

Review based on publisher-provided copy.
Posted by: Julianka


Sindid Mahmud Alam
Sindid Mahmud Alam
28 Apr, 2013 06:43 PM

what is the setting of this book(time of year, year and place)? I really need to know this for my presentation.

29 Apr, 2013 07:54 PM

You should probably read the book. At the very least, you could read the review above, which is A) pretty short, and B) answers both of your questions.

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