Title: 100% Organic (The Chickpea Chronicles #2)
Author: James Allinson
Publication date: February 7, 2021
Genre: Fantasy, Satire
One Sentence Summary: Things are going swimmingly for George and Julian, until a new green grocer decides to open and challenges George and Julian to grow giant vegetables.
100% Organic is the second in The Chickpea Chronicles series. Just like the first, it was humorous and satirical, but I felt it wasn’t quite as much and there were some more disturbingly strange bits to this one. It centers around George The-Friendly Dragon and his boss, green grocer Julian, and the giant vegetable growing competition they have been challenged to enter. Instead of focusing on the grocery and the other creatures as the first installment did, 100% Organic has an interesting take on gardening and some political and business shenanigans. While some of it was a bit disturbing to me, I really enjoyed how it all twisted together, and it’s always so easy to root for George.
In People Town, Julian’s organic grocery is flourishing thanks to George. But a new green grocer is coming to town, promising lower prices for the same quality. Of course Julian and George won’t stand for it, especially after they learn it’s owned by someone Julian knew, Bernard. Bernard happens to also be tied up with some, um, interesting characters, pulling in unsavory business and political plots.
Business is business, though, and Julian and George want to prove theirs is the better organic grocery. So they end up being challenged to grow the biggest tomato and to enter the annual fruit and vegetable contest. The twist is, though, that only the largest fruits and vegetables in each category win, which might prove a problem for our organic grocers. Until George accidentally finds a solution. In a competition of which green grocer has the biggest produce, the backstage dealings are anything but palatable and George might just need to save the day. Again.
100% Organic wasn’t quite as irreverent and satirical as I expected, but it was still a lot of fun. I love the way George is just accepted by all the people, though I do sometimes have trouble picturing a dragon walking around a town built for people. It’s so easy to forget he’s a dragon, but he never lets you forget. In this book, the reader gets to see more of George becoming part of the community, as well as getting to see some of his remaining ties to Dragonville. This is a fun look into growing competitions and to what some unsavory businesses will do to help line their pockets.
Overall, I found the whole story to be a bit simple and sometimes the story felt stretched out a little too much. The focus was more on the gardening with the competition date looming in the distance. I did like how George and Julian operated when it came to the gardening. It felt like the deadline should be hovering over their heads, but it also felt like it was some amorphous thing in the future, until there were problems and suddenly panic ensued. But I really enjoyed the lengths Bernard and Mr. Crook went to in order to try to ensure a win for their side. They were every bit unsavory and despicable as expected, but also, oddly, added a bit of weird levity to it all even if it made me shake my head at how amoral it was. I can’t say bits and pieces of this story didn’t bother me, but it is meant to be satire and definitely took things as far as it should. There was some plotting and sneakiness, but I had wished for more, as well as more depth to the villains, but the story really helped make George shine. I did, though, want more of a competition between the grocers while actually growing their produce.
George really is the most incredible character in this series. I love that he’s a dragon, but feels so human. He’s got a great head on his shoulders and is a very capable problem solver, though sometimes I wish he wouldn’t be quite so self-conscious and would maybe ramble a tad less. But it makes him truly delightful. Overall, he’s such a fun one that I can’t wait to see what he gets mixed up in next. Julian, on the other hand, felt a little less like his usual self. After getting to know him in the first book and seeing how irreverent and politically incorrect he is, unapologetically, I felt 100% Organic toned him down a lot and actually made him seem more lazy than I originally thought. As a result, his wasn’t quite the presence I expected. But it was really nice to get to know some of the other people in People Town, specifically the other residents who have plots around George and Julian’s at the People Town Council allotments. They were all so different from each other and a lot of fun in their own ways. I loved that they were all given their own fun personalities and a good dose of humor, making them offbeat and really fun to read about. The villains were also a lot of fun, with their own weird subplot going on. They were not at all subtle, but it actually kind of worked.
100% Organic felt a little narrowed to the allotments. There wasn’t much involvement from the other areas, like Dragonville, but it was a lot of fun to get to know the residents who garden and why they garden, adding a nice layer of depth behind People Town. It was also fun to get a glimpse into the town’s political side.
Overall, 100% Organic provides a solid next installment to the series. It’s fun with a serious streak, and a bit disturbing, but it all worked well together and I really enjoyed George in this one. He really had some problems to solve while also trying to fully settle and enjoy his life alongside like-minded creatures. Of course, he never forgets his roots.
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