Publication Date: October 22, 2013
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Reading Level: Young Adult, 15+
Pages: 369 (ARC)
Source: BEA 2013
Gerald Faust knows exactly when he started feeling angry: the day his mother invited a reality television crew into his five-year-old life. Twelve years later, he’s still haunted by his rage-filled youth—which the entire world got to watch from every imaginable angle—and his anger issues have resulted in violent outbursts, zero friends, and clueless adults dumping him in the special education room at school.
Nothing is ever going to change. No one cares that he’s tried to learn to control himself, and the girl he likes has no idea who he really is. Everyone’s just waiting for him to snap…and he’s starting to feel dangerously close to doing just that.
In this fearless portrayal of a boy on the edge, highly acclaimed Printz Honor author A.S. King explores the desperate reality of a former child “star” who finally breaks free of his anger by creating possibilities he never knew he deserved.
I normally have a rule when it comes to these DNF reviews, and that means that I'm far enough into the book to know what the hell I'm talking about. But, I have a confession to make. I chose to DNF this book on page 25. Yes, I know. And it's not because the book was bad, it is mainly because I wasn't ready for it.
I don't know about you guys, but when you pick up a book you have to be in the right mood for it. Sometimes I want that really fluffy contemporary or a book with a lot of bloody fighting. It's really all in my mood. I cannot read the sequel of a book that completely blew me away because I have to be in the proper mindset to connect with these characters that meant so much to me the first time around that I desperately don't want to hurt me the second time around. And with such thoughts in mind I can honestly say that my DNFing this book was based entirely on the fact that I was not in the proper mood to read this book.
See, I decided to give it to a friend who loves A.S. King. And once she found out I have never read A.S. King she told me to hold onto it and read it before I ship it out to her so that I can experience King's writing because everyone should experience King's writing. I've heard nothing but amazing things about this author--how King's books can change you, how they tackle things nobody else wants to tackle, how they take you places nobody else is daring enough to go.
That's what this book did.
In a mere 25 pages, I felt Gerald's complete anger and hatred of the world. Simply put, his narcisstic view got to me. I pitied the fact that he's known about shitting on his kitchen table in defiance on national televison when he was five years old. I totally understood his anger when everybody yelled, "Hey, Crapper!" And part of me was really disgusted by the amount of times the act of going to the bathroom was mentioned in the first 25 pages. Odds are, it's going to be mentioned a lot in the 300+ pages left to go. I hated Gerald's annoying sex-crazed sister, his Dad's excuses for his Mom bugged me, his remembrances of his terrible tv nanny had me cringing.
However, I have to admit that King's attempt at stressing the nanny's British accent made her sound more like she was Brooklyn than England. It seems like she's constantly stressing the word behavior, spelled and italicized in the book as behay-vyah. I don't know about you, but my Dad's from Brooklyn. When I see the dropping of the letter "r" in words like remember (remem-buh), I think Brooklyn. It didn't help at all that my mind kept thinking "prissy tv nanny from Brooklyn." So that's a personal problem that kept me from enjoying the book, but the circulation back to this single word in this terrible way to express a British accent already bugged the crap out of me.
All in all, you just have to be in the proper mood for this. You have to be prepared to be made uncomfortable, you have to be prepared to feel such intense negative emotions. The pain, the anger, the sadness and intense hatred. You have to be prepared to enter the mind of an almost 17 year old boy who thinks that he belongs in jail instead of the real world. And I was not. I think I need to adjust to King's writing before picking this one up again. At my friends recommendation, ASK THE PASSENGERS will be a good book to get used to her writing style and the intensity and risks that make her so unique.