“No,” said Jimbob.
“Genuine fake imports here,” he persisted.
“He said no,” Gemini replied.
The weasel opened the right side of the coat that was lined with a bunch of different types of eyeballs. “How about an eyeball?” the weasel asked.
“Eew, no.” Jimbob shuddered and quickly ushered Gemini away from the shady weasel. “Why would he even have eyeballs?” he muttered to himself. Gemini observed his guide, who looked very disturbed. He could see that Jimbob was continuing to mumble to himself but could not make out what else he was saying.
“So, where to next, Señor Crankypants?” Gemini asked, trying to lighten the mood.
“We need more information on Angel. We need to talk to Madame Rouge.”
“Rouge is an expert on Rogues?”
Jimbob nodded. “Yes, and on spelling the two words correctly. More specifically, she’s an expert on Angel; she used to work here.” Jimbob pointed at a building marked only with red fluorescent lighting.
(Submitted by the author, Jeremy Rodden; ebook available here)
This page is a bit of a mixed bag for me. On the one hand, I'm nostalgic for the old "Wanna buy a watch" joke, and got a chuckle out of the twist that the other side of his coat had eyeballs. It was a good one-two setup, and Jimbob's queasy reaction evoked both sympathy and amusement. Likewise, the Rouge/Rogues juxtaposition struck me as clever and fun, especially since I've seen that mis-spelling innumerable times and used to commit it myself as a youngster.
On the flip-side, a shady weasel is of course the ultimate in anthropomorphic cliches, and one never likes to encounter two cliches in a single brief piece of writing without strong evidence that the author is trying to puncture the cliches rather than just relying on their time-worn familiarity. The "Wanna buy a watch" cliche was suitably punctured, though, so perhaps on some other page the weasel one will be as well.
The prose is functional and avoids significant mis-steps, though there's a minor that/which error in there. I will say that I'm always sensitive to phrases like, "Gemini observed his guide." Normal people don't "observe" other people; they look at them or watch them or keep an eye on them. Observing is the act of a sleuth or a scientist, and Gemini doesn't sound much like either one when he asks, "So, where to next, Señor Crankypants?" I can't help but notice as well that the questionable phrase accompanies a mid-paragraph shift of point-of-view, in which we move straight from Jimbob's shudder and mutter into Gemini's perspective on those actions. Now, the preceding 81 pages may well establish that Gemini is both formal in his observational habits and casual in his banter, and may consistently use a shifting third-person omniscient POV. So neither of these is a game-ender, and they may not even be flaws in the context of the overall book. But along with the cliches, they set off my warning bells.
Still, I'm a sucker for anything with rogues in it, and this page genuinely amused me twice in a very short space. If I were shopping for kids' books in a store, I would definitely flip through this one further to see if it continued to look promising.