“Sometimes books imitate life. And sometimes books imitate lives that imitate books.”
I'm slowly working my way through all of Andrew Smith's books after first discovering him a few years ago during a summer readalong (I believe Roof Beam Reader is responsible). Since reading my first Smith titles that summer (In the Path of Falling Objects and Stick), I've been trying to read my way through Smith, grabbing new releases as they come out and working my way around to the books I haven't had a chance to read yet. I'm pretty sure I only have 2 left-The Marbury Lens and Passenger (I could be wrong now that I'm looking over at my shelf). In any case, I really enjoy reading Smith. I consider myself to be a big fan of his work and think that he's doing some really great things with YA fiction. His work has a signature and it stands out from a lot of the other things being published today.
Anyway, I recently received this title in a recent book swap and felt in the mood for some zany Smith this past weekend. He didn't disappoint. Now, if you've read Smith before, I would compare this more to Winger than Grasshopper Jungle or The Alex Crow. It had it's crazy and original elements, but seemed a little tamer than the last 2 Smith books I've read.
So what is it about?
Finn Easton is not your average teenage boy. He was born with heterochromatic eyes (different colors). And when he was young, a dead horse fell off a bridge and onto Finn and his mother. His mother was killed in the accident, and after being in the hospital with a broken back, Finn has an odd scar and epilepsy as a result. With all of these traits, Finn always feels a little different, and it didn't help with his father published a book with a main character named Finn...who shares all of those traits.
But beyond that simple surface explanation, the book has a lot of traditional YA elements that made me love it-a crazy best friend, Cade, who was probably my favorite character (he reminded me of a student), a beautiful girl, Julia, that accepted Finn with all of this traits, a road trip, and lots of swearing and teenage situations. It was a simple story surrounded by complex elements, but Smith made it seem original and true. And believable, even given those bits of zany I've come to expect from him.
One aspect of the book I really enjoyed was the description of time passing. Instead of using time as we use it (5 minutes pass), Finn thinks in terms of distance-what the earth travels, etc. It makes for an interesting plot element and allows Finn to challenge his own notions of what really makes sense to him as he deals with the hand the universe dealt him. It was well executed and explained, so that as I read the book, I found myself thinking about moving in distance, not time.
In all, this is a great addition to Smith's canon and one that I can see a lot of teenagers really enjoying.
“Worry and regret are both useless weights that provide no drag. They never did anything to slow down the planet for one goddamned second.”