Sunday, September 13, 2015

9th Canadian Challenge - 4th review - Boo

Perhaps I should have suspected that Neil Smith was Canadian (or at least had strong Canadian roots) as his new book, Boo, had a fairly prominent review in the Toronto Star.  In any case, one I found that out,* I decided I might as put together a short review for the Canadian Challenge.

I will say that the content matter intrigued me. (It isn't giving away anything to reveal that the narrator -- a boy nicknamed Boo -- dies at school, right in front of his locker, and ends up in an afterlife populated entirely of 13 year olds who died in America,** since this is explained on the first page.)  However, I was mostly reading it to see if it was a YA novel that my son could read.  On that score, I would say probably not for a while.  Given what is going on in the novel, during its many twists and turns, I think I would probably hold off suggesting it until he is 15 or even 16, though I guess if he finds out about it on his own, he'll be allowed to read it.

Anyway, the narrative voice is very much like that from Haddon's The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, while the metaphysics are kind of convoluted and off-kilter, like Brockmeier's The Brief History of the Dead.  Since I liked both those books, I basically liked this book quite a bit, though it was probably just a bit too clever for its own good.  I had a pretty good sense of how it would turn out, and in fact I was correct.  That's really probably all I want to say about it, since this is a case where if you don't like spoilers, then saying almost anything at all about the book will spoil it for someone.

* It is a bit amusing that of the books that dropped in my lap through the library hold incident, most are either by Indian authors or authors that turn out to be Canadian.  After Neil Smith, I'll be turning my attention to Confidence by Russell Smith, also a Canadian.

**  Apparently even permanent residents count, since there is a boy with a British accent whose parents had only recently moved to America.  Thankfully, the reader is not confronted with the contentious topic of whether illegal immigrants from Mexico or elsewhere, but who die on America soil, end up in the afterlife reserved for Americans ...

Minor update with a UK connection.  I try not to get too hung up about these things, but I think the UK publishers of Boo need their heads examined, since the cover (IMO) contains a major spoiler that cannot be unseen once it is seen.  Crazy.  I'm obviously not going to link to it...

1 comment:

  1. This book has been on my radar for a while but I didn't know Smith was Canadian. I'm bumping it up on my TBR! It's certainly an intriguing premise, and I really enjoyed Curious Incident of the Dog . . .