The cover looked interesting and the jacket copy made me say, "Well, okay. Perhaps."
Hell, you know I never say perhaps. I mean, I'd love to be that guy who sits around - stroking his soul patch - saying things like, "Perhaps..."
But I'm not. I'm the guy with the Top 40 patch, saying stupid things in Ebonics like WORD!
Okay, but not the point. So I pull CATCH down off the shelf along with Courtney Summers' book CRACKED UP TO BE, and a few others.
The first thing I notice? It's got a blurb from James Frey* on the front. On the back? Oh, a blurb by some author named John Green. That kinda cracked me up. It also made me think, "When was this book written, dogg?"
And yes, I am TOTALLY the type of guy who sits around - wishing he had a soul patch - saying things like, "dogg..."
So anyway, great book. Made me wish I was a better writer, all that stuff. However, there are a few things that truly blew me away about this book.
1.) It is an authentic boy voice, written unabashedly for a male audience. Well, at least I think so. I am quite the critic when it comes to the authenticity of a male voice. If we want boys to read (which I think we do) shouldn't we write books that, I don't know, actually sound like boys talking? The main character, Tim Temples, isn't easy to peg down. He's not the stoic, marble, smoldering, I'll rip your throat out, overly sensitive, always joking, jock-asshole, typical, Oohh, I bet he's hott! male character you often find in YA. He's complex. And no, I don't have a crush. STOP JUDGING ME.
2.) The plot had me turning pages to see what happens next. There were no mythical creatures. There were no tournaments to the death (but I still love me some Hunger Games). The world wasn't ending (again, dystopian? I'm a fan.) And there sure as hell wasn't any sparkling happening. (It's a cheap joke but I'll take it...) No. It was a bout a guy struggling with his future. With what it means to grow, to move on, to make choices. In all ways, it is a true coming of age story.
3.) The book actually elicited an emotional response from me.** As I read one specific part of the plot, I kept thinking, "No. She'd better not. I can't believe this. WHY DOES MY LIFE HAVE TO ALWAYS BE THIS WA--" Um. Yeah. So it was very realistic, but not in an overt way. Without giving anything away, it's one of those moments that I think everybody has at some point in there life. Where you're entire body aches and, no matter what you do, you can't fix what's wrong.
4.) There wasn't a happy ending. I'm a fan of this. But unlike some of the teens in my writing group, I am not a fan of the unrealistic, Let's do this to piss off the reader ending. And when I say There wasn't a happy ending please realize that I mean, There totally was a happy ending. Just not the one I kept wanting to happen.
5.) It was realistic. And that's what I crave in YA. Real, true realistic fiction. Sure, there's something to be said about dramatic, issue based books. But coming from a guy who works with teenagers on a daily basis? Yeah, there isn't much of that in their lives. Their stress, their problems (our plots?) come from seemingly quiet things like acceptance, being transparent about who they really are, and trying to navigate this weird area between adolescence and adulthood. To me, that is what YA should be about.***
I loved this book. I am not a compulsive reader, and I usually read 1-2 chapters a night. I read this book in a day. It may be my new favorite YA book. Ever. To end, let me just say:
It is so choice. If you have the means, I highly recommend picking one up.****
* Let me just say this about James Frey. Who gives a damn if he made some stuff up? I don't. That book was pretty good. Not really my thing, but I can see why it was popular. And Oprah, if you're reading this, give it a rest. Making him apologize? Don't make me [edited to keep the author free of any lawsuits, negative blog comments, or Oprah-fan hit attempts.] So, believe THAT! (I actually heard it was originally sold as fiction and changed by the publisher to memoir, which was hot at the time...) Anyway.
** No, I didn't cry. And just for thinking that, I'm going to have to give you a little of THIS.
*** Don't get your panties all twisted, I'm not saying this ISN'T happening in YA. I'm just saying it sometimes gets pushed aside in favor of, say, fallen angels. Feel free to flame me.
**** Kudos if you get this movie reference.