TJ Burns — January 23, 2017
Well, huh. I have to say, in a weird way, I really enjoyed this book. I was frustrated to no end at the stupidity of some of the characters’ choices, especially Billy’s. But because I was inside Billy’s head the whole time, I could empathize, understand, and even forgive.
Billy’s best friends (a.k.a “only friends”), Alf and Clark, are in my opinion not very good friends at all. They seem to be sort of “default friends” from the way Billy describes it. Billy mentions once that it’s not like he can trade them in for other friends. What other friends? Billy mentions that he doesn’t have a wide selection of friends — it’s either these two or none at all. I was hoping early on that Billy would dump these friends for Mary, who seemed to me to be much more in tune with Billy and his wishes/needs/personality.
Later I was convinced that Alf and Clark were not just naive and inconsiderate, but directly destructive and harmful to Billy and Billy’s future. But as the story evolves, these two friends redeem themselves in my eyes when they make the death-defying trek up the mountain to make things right. Turns out they are just naive, stupid, and yes, inconsiderate, but not purposefully harmful and destructive.
The plot was original, entertaining, and full of surprises. My biggest emotion throughout was shock and disbelief. How stupid can a kid be?! But… being inside of Billy’s head the whole time, I totally got his confusion, his insecurity, his embarrassment, his hurt from having been rejected. It felt real. It felt human. It felt 14-year-old adolescent with no experience with the opposite sex, and little social experience at all.
I liked Mary and her matter-of-fact speaking style, her intelligence, her problem solving skills, and her seemingly confident personality. I also liked that there is more to her, too, than meets the eye, and that she has her own set of problems, insecurities, and mistakes to deal with. Because I was not inside of her head, I could not develop empathy and understanding for some of her actions, but I could certainly try to imagine her motivations enough to get a feeling for why she does what she does — even when it doesn’t initially make sense.
Conclusion: Outrageous Originality
I have to give this story mega-plus points for its outrageous originality. I put it under “contemporary/romance” because I refuse to believe that growing up in the 80s is “historical fiction”! 😉 But all the music, brand, entertainers’, and computer names definitely give it a “throw-back” or “retro” feel that clearly put this story in time and place. Some of us (uh ’em, not necessarily me, but some) can relate, but even those who didn’t live through the early days of computers can also get a feel for what computer programming meant back then. The adolescent insecurity, however, transcends time and space.
I received a copy of this book from Simon & Schuster via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Published February 7th 2017 by Simon & Schuster
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