“’Don’t try to find the ideas let the ideas find you,’ I said, unsure if I even knew what I was talking about. Then it’s all you can think about and it goes through your body and tries to escape and be expressed in any way possible….It’s a lot like…like…’
‘Lightning?’ Malerie asked me.
‘Yeah,’ I said. ‘Like lightning.’”
There are some books that stay with you for a long time. There are some books that feel like the author took a chapter out of your life. It touches you in a way no other piece of prose can. This was that book.
I was looking for a book the other day, went to the library, and lo and behold, found none. On the way back home, my sister started quoting this book. I decided to read the first page and discover what all the humor was about. Turns out I stole it from her.
You may be thinking, Why is this book so amazing? For one thing, I read it in a day. It has taken me four years to find a book I could not put down, ever. This was that book. And on top of that, this book feels very much like it was written for me, if that makes any sense. Carson’s voice, the narrator, is my voice. His cynical, smart-aleck tone, is my tone. And there’s no other way to explain it.
“The ASSembly was today….The student council sits onstage during the assemblies, like royalty overlooking their serfdom. I’m not hard to spot up there. Just look for the guy who’s staring up at the ceiling with eyes the size of tennis balls and not moving whatsoever; that’s me.”
I don’t know why I am ranking this as one of my all-time favorite books. The plot is horrible, merely about him blackmailing students and his ambition to get into a college far away. The only character development is in the last chapter, by him. And the dialogue tags were mainly “said,” one of my pet peeves.
But see, the reason I loved this book is because I connected with the guy. He’s a senior living in a small town who wants to leave and has plans of becoming a successful guy. He’s a cynic, writer, sarcastic guy that can be an intellectual outcast. He’s from a broken home and his grandmother has Alzheimer’s.
Change about four things and that’s me. For one, I’m not a senior, but a junior. I don’t want to leave this small town as badly as he does. My grandmother doesn’t have Alzheimer’s. My great-grandmother did. And I’m not an outcast, per se, but a popular outcast, if that makes any sense. The cool nerd if you will. Or at least I like to believe so. Besides that, he’s pretty spot on with my own persona.
To add to the creepiness, there was a scene in this book that I swear is the exact same scene I faced Friday. He had to go to a Prom Committee meeting because he’s the News Editor and was forced to. I’m the Class Secretary and had spent the whole week trying to get out of it. They would have none of it. So suffice to say, I was the last one to arrive, spouting off my (smart) opinionated rebuttals that were slammed down by the preps. Carson did the same thing.
Even stranger than that, a line in particular that he said during that meeting, “Let’s not shoot for originality,” I said word for word when dealing with those idiots.
“I don’t know why they’re always so annoyed with me. They should be thankful I’m here to tell them how stupid their ideas are.”
This is a dark comedy, something not ususaly seen in YA. But it was a fresh of breath air for me. And I really enjoyed this novel, if you haven’t guessed by now. It should be a mandatory read for every senior in high school, if I do say so myself. They’d enjoy it, to say the least. And might even learn something from its beautiful morals.
For once, an author actually threw a twist at me that I didn’t expect. It sent me over the edge. And I loved it.
Yes this book scared me in how close it felt to my life and my persona. But the one flaw it has is the ending. It comes at you from nowhere and ends on a bittersweet note. I wanted to see some hope, but received none.
This is the best book I’ve read all year, one of the best books I’ve read in a long time. And if you’re like me, a writer, a cynic in high school, and maybe even a little prick, you’ll really enjoy this book. I guarantee it.