Thursday, August 12, 2010

Boom! by Mark Haddon

I thought this story was hilarious. Then again, I thought Chatterton's The Brain was hilarious too and despite much book-talking I have convinced very few kids to read it. Possibly I have an extremely warped sense of humor.

Jim is not having a good day. His sister's boyfriend wants to kill him, his best friend's mom tries to kill him, and his sister tells him his teachers are planning to expel him and send him to reform school. Of course, she's told him crazy stories before...but what if this one is true? Charlie, his best friend, comes up with a crazy plan to find out but the boys get much more than they expected. They don't find out anything about Jim's fate, but they do find out there's something very strange and mysterious going on with two of their most boring and ordinary teachers. Suddenly, there are strange things happening all around and the fate of Charlie - and the world - rests on Jim's shoulders.

Boom! is peppered with giggle-inducing nuggets such as:
  • "Craterface had a black belt in kung fu. He could kill people with his ears."
  • "He was very nearly sacked but the headmistress reckoned it would help cut down vandalism if everyone knew there was a dangerous lunatic looking after the school buildings."
  • "The police asked us whether we wanted counselling. We said we'd prefer a hot supper."
The plot is as insane as possible, but with just enough realism dribbled through that it feels realistic. Jim is a perfectly normal teenage boy - complete with absolute lack of control over his impulses and saddled with a reckless and possibly insane best friend - and his complete normality makes his wacky situation all the more bewildering and funny. This is a funny, funny read sprinkled with sharp observations of life. There are enough different elements to appeal to a wide section of readers; humor, scifi, adventure, realism, and funny bits (which are different than humor).

Verdict: As funny as Chatterton's Brain series, but with more realistic characters and a less far-out plot, I think this will have a wider appeal to middle grade and young teen audience.

ISBN: 0385751877; Published May 2010 by David Fickling Books; Borrowed from the library; Purchased for the library


Doret said...

Thanks for this review. I will have to give this book a go. I think its the cover that's making this a hard sell.

It doesn't say extremly warped sense of humor

Jennifer said...

Yeah, the cover is regrettable. The UK cover and title - A spot of bother - don't seem much better.