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Lowboy Hardcover – Mar 3 2009

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: FSG Adult; First Edition edition (March 3 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0374194165
  • ISBN-13: 978-0374194161
  • Product Dimensions: 2.8 x 15.6 x 23.1 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 476 g
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #529,915 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Fred G. Maack on Aug. 15 2009
Format: Hardcover
The misadventures of a 16 year old schizophrenic boy in the subways of New York City. Sounds good, doesn't it? It did and that's why I picked up this book but it was ultimately a very big disappointment. There were promises of the character being similar to Holden Caulfield, he wasn't, he was simply a yammering mental patient.

There was also the subplot with Lowboy's mother and the detective who is helping her to find him. It was completely unnecessary and a bore.

Perhaps the book was well-researched and realistic, at least on the side of a teenage schizophrenic. I don't understand why a detective would be so preoccupied with finding him and spending days upon days with his mother.

As far as the teenage schizophrenic goes. I think Lowboy could have been more provocative. I never felt any sympathy for him. I thought he was just a yammering idiot who spoke a lot of nonsense and had deranegd theories about global warming. Perhaps that's what schizophrenics are like but I think there should have been more to the character than a textbook version of a teenage schizophrenic.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Coach C TOP 500 REVIEWER on April 16 2009
Format: Hardcover
"Lowboy" has all the ingredients for an outstanding book, a great setting, interesting complex characters, and intense suspense. However, I believe that this will make a much better movie than it does a novel which is why I haven't rated it higher.

Having said that, one has to give John Wray a ton of credit for tackling such a complicated project as a novel. And certainly there are some great parts of the book that I thoroughly enjoyed.

The characters which include a teenage schizophrenic are probably too complex to be accurately portrayed through the written word. But, Wray makes up for it through his intricate details of the New York Subway system in which most of the book takes place.

Overall, I felt that John Wray did as much as he could given the complexity of the characters and story. I definitely look forward to reading more of his work in the future.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 61 reviews
27 of 32 people found the following review helpful
Problematic June 1 2009
By Dave Schwinghammer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
It's inevitable that John Wray's LOWBOY be compared with Mark Haddon's THE CURIOUS INCIDENT OF THE DOG IN THE NIGHT-TIME. The difference, it seems to me, is that Haddon had experience working with autistic children. I never got that sense with Wray's book.

A review on the back cover of LOWBOY refers to the main character, Will Heller, as "a hero as three-dimensional as any in recent fiction." Ironically, that's the problem I had with the book. All of the characters seemed flat to me, including Will. Most of the time, Will doesn't seem all that schizophrenic. Sure he tries to mate with a bag lady, and he has a delusion that if he has sex he can stop the destruction of the earth through global warming, but in other respects he doesn`t do that much except ride the subway and bump into denizens of the deep who aren`t that interesting either. Even his nickname, Lowboy, is a kind of furniture. Emily, his girlfriend, may have some emotional problems of her own. Will originally gets in trouble because she tried to hug him and he pushed her onto the subway tracks because he didn't like being touched. But she comes back for more, apparently because Will looks a lot like Brad Pitt. At one point she tells Will that he should never wear pants, but then she freaks out when he gets serious. The detective in the story, Ali Lateef, who is trying to track Will down, seems more interested in Will's mother, Violet. About the only surprise in the story is Violet's so-called secret.

The minor characters are even less interesting. Skull and Bones, Will's attendants before his escape onto the subway, are practically invisible. Heather Covington, the bag lady Will meets in the subway tunnels, is pretty much a stereotype.

I cannot think of one character I could identify with and that wasn't the case with Haddon's book. Christopher Boone inspires empathy; when Christopher was afraid, I was afraid. Mark Haddon put me in Christopher's shoes. That doesn't happen in Wray's book.
50 of 63 people found the following review helpful
Suspense! March 9 2009
By Amber Pierce - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
This is just by far the novel of the year for me--profound and beautiful and edge-of-your-seat thrilling at the same time. Where did this John Wray come from? I hadn't heard about either of his other two novels, although the critics seem to have gone ga-ga over them, too. I can't gush over this book enough. I was so entertained and entranced reading it that at one point I didn't even realize I was crying. I just flipped over this thing. Did I mention that it's also really funny?
20 of 25 people found the following review helpful
John Wray's masterpiece March 15 2009
By Ronald Stainbrook - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Having stumbled upon this novel quite by accident, I was mesmerized by the story of a psychotic adolescent who has escaped from a mental institution and his mother's frantic efforts to save him or to save anyone whom he might harm in a story that covers just a little over 24 hours.

Many parts of the book are told through the paranoid schizophrenic eyes of the beautiful 16-year old boy, adding a great deal of realism to the tragic yet hopeful story. Wray has apparently accomplished a great deal of insight into the mind of paranoid schizophrenia as well as the mind of innocent youth throughout the world.

Woven into this thrilling story is the beautiful and enigmatic mother and the thoughtful and provocative detective she hires to catch the boy before he harms himself or someone in his way to accomplish what he must accomplish to save the world.

Reserve some time for this novel because once you start reading it, you won't be able to put it down.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Disappointing, although I couldn't put it down March 5 2010
By M. J. Cotner - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
I so wanted to love this book. I wanted it all the way to the end. And yet when I arrived my gut said, "I told you so."

There are so many things to recommend the novel, I'll list them before saying anything else. First of all, the writing is excellent. The characters are also fantastic; it's hard to say which I liked best. Wray's depiction of a mind in the grip of mental illness (particulars left unnamed to avoid spoilers) is impressive. And, finally, Wray paints the landscape underneath New York City as beautifully as does Woody Allen aboveground. Truly, he's made a valentine to the NYC subway system.

Unfortunately, the "big secret" revealed at the end was no surprise to me: the hints had felt so heavy-handed, I'd guessed it at least a third of the way through. In retrospect, then, the pace is annoyingly slow. Finally, Wray's choice for the protagonist's obsession is profoundly disappointing: it dates the novel in such a way that the obsession will soon acquire an interpretation that seems unintended. It already feels "so last decade"!

I do not like the fact that Colum McCann's Let the Great World Spin: A Novel is listed close to _Lowboy_, because I think the former - while also a tribute to New York City - is a crown jewel of a novel.

All that said, if you like discovering talented new writers, this book might be for you. A very quick read, it will give you a taste of a new author whose work may be well worth pursuing.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
The Tunnel to Madness Aug. 4 2009
By Beverly Jackson - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
In John Wray's novel, Lowboy, William Heller, a paranoid schizophrenic teenager, has stopped taking his medication and has escaped from his school (asylum) into the New York subway system. William, also known as Lowboy, is on a mission to save the world from destruction which according to him is on a short timetable. Will has a plan but to fully execute it he needs to find the one girl that will "cool him down" and save the world from global warming.

The story is mainly narrated by Will, who in this case, tells it from the fugitive's point-of-view. Most of Will's journey takes place on the subway and in the tunnels, only going out of the subway system when absolutely necessary. The chapters narrated by Will takes the reader into the mysterious thinking of the brain of someone who is sinking deeper and deeper into mental illness. Mr. Wray has done a very good job of making Will a very likeable hero. The alternate chapters are narrated by a missing person's detective assigned to the case, Ali Lateef, who is accompanied by Will's mother, Violet Heller. As this is a different type of missing person case, Violet helps provide information to assist in finding Will before he becomes violent as the experts predict. These chapters have the feeling of a police procedural, as Ali races against time. But, as Ali puts the pieces of the puzzle together, he realizes that there is much more to Violet and her perceptions of the story than she is telling him and may not be the help that he needs.

This story is both tragic and, at times, almost comical as we get to see the world through Will's eyes. Will is aware of the medications leaving his system and from past experiences knows that others sometimes just do not hear him when he speaks, so he is relieved when others acknowledge him unaware that they are usually people who are also mentally ill. One of the most memorable scenes for me is when Will attempts to purchase cupcakes and the store clerks and Will could not effectively communicate with each other for what is a simple task for most of us.

This is a much needed story as mental illness is still a taboo subject in the United States and you will see that we have not made much progress besides making people who suffer from mental illness invisible when they make us uncomfortable. Once I started reading this story I could not put it down as I became engaged with the characters and I was riding the subway along with Will hoping that he would outwit the authorities. I recommend this book to readers who enjoy stories that allow them to explore topics from a different angle. Readers who are interested in the topic of mental illness will also enjoy this story.

Reviewed by Beverly
APOOO BookClub
July 26, 2009

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