The Tragic Age (2000)
The Tragic Age (2000)
3.59 of 5 Votes: 2
1250054419 (ISBN13: 9781250054418)
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I started this one with so much enthusiasm (I have to stop doing this... it's like that moment in the movie The American President where the Michael Douglas character says to the Michael J. Fox character that he should reduce his caffeine intake by half and Michael J. Fox says that he doesn't drink coffee and the suggestion is that he should just hit himself over the head with a baseball bat a few times every morning to reduce his enthusiasm for the day... I should do that with at least half of the books I think will be wonderful) and it all went downhill on this book. Now, really, any time a book is compared with Catcher in the Rye I know that should be a red flag - it could be a drinking game probably, someone should try that - so that was my first mistake but a book that has the potential to be a nice little coming-of-age novel should at least give me a portrait of a kid going through something that is close-ish to real. Or, it has to be so far from reality that I can't possibly be expected to think I am being fooled into thinking it is meant to be real? The author is meant to be convincing me of something or just letting me think it's reality. Pick one And in this case I don't think that Stephen Metcalfe knew what he was going for. He didn't know if he had a real boy or not...Here goes. Billy Kinsey's parents have won the lottery - a truly insane amount of money - and aren't really dealing with anything very well; new house, no need to work, fancy car, for some reason really spectacularly fancy racing bicycles and great tennis clothes. At the same time that they have all this leisure their family is reeling from the loss of his twin sister and their lives are in a swirling mess. Billy is dealing with all of this chaos by trying to remove himself from the world entirely, by disengaging and not sleeping to avoid dreams, and his parents are trying to connect with him in varying ways with less and less success. All of this could have made for an interesting novel on it's own and other authors have done so. Not so in this case. When the school year begins Billy has decided to just steer clear of everyone (with the almost logic that this will be 'easier/safer' than the pain that he has already dealt with in his short life) so it is somewhat startling and (to me) unusual that he decides to befriend a new kid in the first week of school after this hulking and terrifying thug is sent to the principal's office for a violent attack on another student. Even more surprising is that they become friends and start an unusual pattern of behaviour that could have just been a friendship that benefited them both but instead becomes dangerous and illegal. I'm not sure where the author was trying to take this book or why he wanted their relationship or the relationships they formed with others to go. It didn't make sense for the book and it never made sense for me. Unlikely friendships are always fun, kids from two different sides of the tracks always fun, one kid helps the other with homework while the other helps him with the bullies always fun... this could have worked. This book did not do any of this for long. They just went on a senseless Bonnie and Clyde crime spree with lengthy attention paid to things like picking locks. I think that I could possibly pick locks now. After reading this book.So many of the things that happened in this book seemed to appear out of nowhere, almost for shock value, or to start up and then disappear again. There is a death in the book that takes up about a paragraph and a half but isn't fully explained and then, when the book ends the reader is left feeling like there is something missing because it is never completed. Yikes, someone died? What's up there? It feels like there were whole chapters left out. This is one of the rare times that I am sorry I finished a book because I don't feel as if anything were sorted out for me at the end. The book wasn't particularly funny and there was a chance for something great to happen to Billy and the unlikely/unusual friend Twom and instead it was awful and left me feeling hollow. Why bother writing something like this at all? That's my review on this one. "Why bother?" I'm glad that I read this novel shortly after reading How to Win at High School (You can check out my review of that one here). Both had a male as the main character, and even though I'm not usually a fan of male main characters, I really enjoyed them both. Who knows...I might start requesting more books like this one! First, I LOVED the snarky writing in this one. I'm all for main characters where you feel like you are them, and not that you are looking down on a movie set. I instantly felt like I was Billy. I had an instant connection with his pessimistic viewpoint of the world and his snarky personality. I've been reading so many contemporary romance novels lately, that this was a breath of fresh air. Billy is a kid after my own heart and it killed me to see him doing things he shouldn't. I grieved with him over the loss of his sister and could see the sense of longing in his heart as he tries to fit in despite a deformity on his face. His group of misfits remind me of The Perks of Being a Wallflower. They need each other, but they don't need each other. Together they don't feel so lonely, but they end up doing so many things they shouldn't. This novel also reminds me of The Catcher in the Rye in that the main character's are both male and learn about life doing things that are a little above their age level. Ephraim was probably my favorite character of all. He reminds me so much af several kids I went to high school with. Totally addicted to games and totally has lost touch with reality. He's just so happy to have people to hang out with that it breaks your heart. The ending was a little confusing and I had to go back and read through it a few times. Billy has a way of playing things out in his head, coming up with different scenarios, and I couldn't figure out if this was in his head or actually happening. I knew that the ending couldn't be prefect, but I was shocked with how it all went down. I don't want to say anymore about the ending because I'm afraid I'll give something away, but it was surprising. Overall, I was very happy with this novel and I hope that Metcalfe writes another one. I would recommend this to older teens because it has a lot of sex and violence in it.
Kind like an even more messed up Catcher in the Rye
Went off the rails 3/4 way thru.
3.5 stars.
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