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Boom! [Paperback]

Mark Haddon
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
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Book Description

May 10 2011
From the moment that Jimbo and his best friend Charlie bug the staff room and overhear two of their teachers speaking to each other in a secret language, they know that nothing is as it seems. But what does "spudvetch" mean, and why do Mr. Kidd's eyes flicker with fluroscent blue light when Charlie says it to him? Perhaps the teachers are bank robbers speaking in code; perhaps they're spies, or aliens. Whatever they are, Jimbo and Charlie know that there is a big adventure on its way: a nuclear-powered, one-hundred-tonne one, with reclining seats and a buffet car. And as it gains speed and begins to spin out of control, it can only end one way — with a BOOM!

From the Hardcover edition.

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Praise for The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time:
"Mark Haddon's portrayal of an emotionally dissociated mind is a superb achievement. He is a wise and bleakly funny writer with rare gifts of empathy."
— Ian McEwan, author of Atonement and Amsterdam

"This original and affecting novel is a triumph of empathy; whether describing Christopher's favorite dream (of a virus depopulating the planet), or his vision of the universe collapsing in a thunder of stars, the author makes his hero's severely limited world a thrilling place to be."
The New Yorker

From the Hardcover edition.

About the Author

MARK HADDON is an author, illustrator and screenwriter who has written fifteen books for children, and has won two BAFTAs. His bestselling novel, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time, won seventeen literary prizes, including the Whitbread Award, and is an international bestseller.

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Customer Reviews

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Most helpful customer reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Boom Boom June 8 2010
This book was originally published as Gridzbi Spudvetch!, or that was an earlier version of the book published in 1993. Unlike most books that are republished after the author achieves a level or notoriety or fame that should have stayed unpublished, this one is a phenomenal book. There is an interesting preface in which Haddon says not to name a book Gridzbi Spudvetch because no one knows how to pronounce it nor will they buy it. He also talks about wanting to update the book and how when working on it he changed nearly every sentence, updating and improving the story. If that is the case, he did an amazing job.

The story is told from Jimbo's perspective; he is telling the story of his friendship, and the strange things he and his friend discover. And it all starts because his older sister tries to put one over on him, by making him think he is going away to a school for dummies. The inside cover of the book states: "It was a stupid, insane, suicidal idea. Which makes it quite hard to explain why I decided to help. I guess it boils down to this. Charlie was my best friend. I missed him. And I couldn't think of anything better to do. Really stupid reasons which were never going to impress the police, the headmistress or my parents. Looking back, I reckon this was the moment when my whole life started to go pear-shaped." This is a story about aliens, it is a story about growing up, it is a story about families but most of all it is a story about friendship. It was a light, easy read, the prose flowing smoothly and effortlessly. I read it in two sittings, and enjoyed it so much I am going to track down the original version to do a comparison. It is a wonderful book for adults, or teens.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 3.8 out of 5 stars  62 reviews
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Someone should buy this book Dec 19 2011
By Pop Bop - Published on
Verified Purchase
Here's an interesting factoid. There are 51 reviews for this book as of this writing, and 46 of them are from Vine reviewers, who get free books and are asked to submit reviews. The most recent review is 10 months old. So, I somehow suspect that Haddon is not going to be buying a new Porsche with his royalties.

Which is a shame, because this is a very entertaining book. The plot is pretty standard, (my teacher is an alien), although the ending is zanier and more fun than I expected. The two lead characters are appealing. Granted, they are written to be older, wiser, funnier and more insightful than would be age appropriate, but I am willing to overlook that since it means they are wiser, funnier, and more insightful. The byplay between Jimbo and his sister is wonderfully done, which adds a nice amount of variety to the character interactions.

I don't think British slang is a problem, since most of it can be figured out from context, and the rest doesn't matter. It's not like the book is written in some obscure dialect, there are just a few unfamiliar words.

But at bottom bear this in mind - there are some truly funny lines and bits of dialogue in this book. There is some great deadpan humor, in a Greg Hefley "Diary..." kind of way. There are rewards to be found, and don't forget that someone besides me has to actually buy this book.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars My 11 year old loved it! May 20 2010
By PCG - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product
My daughter read this book in one evening. She enjoyed it so much, she couldn't put it down. I could hear her cracking up from her bedroom, and she later told me it was one of the best, funniest books she'd read in a long time. When we later saw this book in a local book store, she told several kids in the store that they should also read it. She is an avid reader, but it isn't often that a book elicits such an enthusiastic and gushing response from her. I'd recommend this book for other kids who like an entertaining read.
20 of 26 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Clunk! May 14 2010
By Gregory Baird - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product
From a financial perspective, it makes perfect sense that this book, originally published in 1992 under the title Gridzbi Spudvetch!, is being given a second life nearly twenty years later. Its author, Mark Haddon, has since achieved literary renown as the author of 2003's book club favorite The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time and the lesser known but equally enjoyable A Spot of Bother (Vintage). It's been nearly four year's since the latter's publication, and with no new adult novel on the horizon (for the time being), it makes sense to haul a title out of the archives before people forget about Haddon. Similar action was taken with Yann Martel after the roaring success of his Life of Pi, when The Facts Behind the Helsinki Roccamatios - an older collection of short stories - was repackaged for the public. Adult fans of Haddon's `previous' novels are bound to feel intrigued. Toss in the fact that Boom! was actually written for the young adult market, which is enjoying strong sales in a comparatively bleak market for books, and everything seems perfect. For both Haddon and the publisher, of course.

The problem with repackaging these older titles is that they inevitably seem hopelessly amateur compared with the author's current work. In Martel's case, Facts was the work of an experimental author struggling to find a voice; essentially throwing ideas out on paper to see if they worked. Unfortunately, more often than not they didn't. For Haddon, well, he had ten extra years of writing expertise by the time Curious Incident hit bookshelves, and boy does it show. Which is odd because in the forward Haddon claims to have extensively edited the old manuscript to fix all the wonky writing and plot holes (as well as to update the technology to incorporate cell phones and iPods). I say this claim is odd because the sound that would best describe Boom! is rather a deafening Clunk! Clunk goes the dialogue, stilted and unnatural (and oddly enough featuring dated references to Snakes on a Plane, among other pop culture dinosaurs, for something that was allegedly worked over to be up to the minute). Clunk goes the plot, which awkwardly lurches forward and still features an unseemly amount of plot holes. Clunk goes Haddon's sense of humor, so sharp and biting in his two adult novels. Indeed, if Haddon intended to snatch some of the audience of the bestselling Diary of a Wimpy Kid books, then Jeff Kinney has absolutely nothing to fear, because this book lacks all of the wit and whimsy that makes those so enjoyable.

Is Boom! an awful read? No. It's harmless. But it's also imminently forgettable; had the publisher left it out of print I doubt anyone would have missed it very much. Its major crime is that it won't appeal to either Haddon's adult audience or the young adult audience it aims for. Both sets are better served waiting for something new.

Grade: D
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Good premise, disappointing execution Aug. 5 2010
By Bookphile - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product
When I read the description for this novel, I was really excited to read it. I mean, students overhearing their teachers speaking a strange language? If that doesn't sound intriguing for a school-aged child, I'm not sure what does. However, while I found the premise of the novel really strong, I found the actual execution to be disappointing.

I think my biggest issue with this book is that the voice feels off. I've read a good number of children's and YA fiction, and the best of those genres always feel like the narrator's voice is authentic to the age group. Jimbo is a likable enough character, but he felt to me like a kid written by an adult. I wanted, instead, for him to feel like he was an actual kid.

My other disappointment with this novel was that I felt that the central plot took too long to get off the ground and then, when it did, it wasn't as interesting as I felt it should have been. There are a lot of plot threads to this novel, everything from Jimbo's father's unemployment to gender issues to teenagers making bad dating choices--in other words, far too many for such a short novel. I really felt like Jimbo's feelings about his father's joblessness could have been a novel in and of itself. It would certainly have been a different type of novel, but the potential was there. Instead, I found myself wondering when the whole mystery of the teachers would come into play rather than detailed descriptions of the meals Jimbo's father was cooking.

There is some really good, dry wit to this novel. I especially enjoyed the strange linguistics of Britney and fellows. They sounded like they had learned English by watching cheesy 70s movies or something. Jimbo also has a sort of wry view of his world, and this did lend some amusing moments to the book. Still, I found myself wishing that the book was just a little bit funnier as I found its overall tone too dry for my tastes.

I can really sum the book up by saying that I felt its potential was wasted. It sounded like something that might be fun to read aloud with my six-year-old daughter, but she already has a stack of other, better children's lit. This is one I won't be sharing with her.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Adorable little book- had me laughing out loud June 5 2010
By Ravenskya - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product
This is an adorably funny book, that builds to laugh out loud funny by the end. Jim and Charlie, two best friends are concerned with the possiblity that Jim will be expelled from school. They decide that the best course of action is to bug the teacher's meeting to see if they are planning to expel Jim. What they hear instead is a conversation in a strange language by teachers who don't know eachother - a mystery is afoot! Soon they are searching for clues worried that their teachers are spies. But the truth is much stranger.

This book is good for the 9 and up age groups provided they are strong readers. I gave it to my 8 (almost 9) year old who was able to read and understand most of it, only asking about the british slang. I think the greatest enjoyment will be around the 12 year old age group.

This book contains creepy teachers, men in black, laser weapons, nasty older sisters and their even nastier boyfriends, perplexing parents, and well I wont spoil it for you. For a fun filled trip into the scifi realm, give this book a try, it's well worth the read.

And yes - there was one part of this book that actually triggered a verbal giggle from me.
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