Boom! Paperback – May 10 2011
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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.
From the Hardcover edition.
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Top Customer Reviews
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.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
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.
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.
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.
The story is told by Jimbo, whose family is going through a rough patch. Even though he's an average student, he believes his older sister, Becky, when she claims that she overheard the teachers talking about removing him to a "special" school. Anxious, Jimbo follows the plan of his friend Charlie to bug the teachers' staff room; while they do not find anything out about Jimbo being expelled, they do hear two of their teachers speaking a strange foreign language. Jimbo and Charlie (more Charlie at first) go on the hunt to figure out what secret these two teachers are keeping. Jimbo resists Charlie's attempts at spying and solving the puzzle until Charlie disappears. It is up to Jimbo to follow the only clue about these teachers to try to save his best friend, but will he be able to save Charlie if his own life is in danger? And who will believe him when he tells everyone what he has seen?
"boom!" is a quick-paced, entertaining story with likable characters. It is thoroughly a British book, so youth in America may have trouble understanding everything Haddon writes. What eventually happens to Charlie and Jimbo is fitting to the story, but not entirely unique. Any fan of science fiction will appreciate the heavy influence of works by Douglas Adams and even Terry Pratchett. "boom!" is a cute book, but no where on par with Haddon's unique capabilities as a masterful writer.