Wednesday, March 13, 2013

The Body of Christopher Creed (review)

3.5/5 stars

The problem with picking up awarding winning/Printz honored books is that you have high expectations.  That's why you read them--you expect greatness.  In the case of The Body of Christopher Creed (Goodreads | Amazon) what I got was a good but not a great book.

It's hard for me to place my finger on what held the novel back.  I keep coming back to that it just felt young.  I never believed the main character Torey was a junior in high school.  For the longest time I thought he was in middle school. From the way he talked about girls, to the fact he kept referring to himself as a "kid."  Yes they cursed and talk about sex, but it felt a little forced, like little boys just learning the lingo.

The story itself is good.  The class outcast Christopher Creed disappears after sending a cryptic email to the school principle.  People aren't sure if he ran away or committed suicide.  His mother refuses to accept either possibly, claiming that Chris was kidnapped or murdered.  She blames the "boons" aka the poor kids from the wrong side of the track.  The class division between the boons and the people from town was an interesting conflict to add but felt a little extreme.  I have trouble believe that nobody ever crosses that social line.  The book was published in 2000 not 1900, and as someone who was in high school during that time the social structure was not that rigid.

I'm a little unsure on the use of technology in the book.  Sometimes things seemed technically incorrect.  One of the boons, Bo, got on the school library computer and took the email message Chris sent the principle out of the email sent folder. Rather than making a duplicate, somehow that deleted it from the sent folder and the message when missing.  Not only can I not imagine a library having a community email portal (we all made hotmail accounts in 8th grade) I'm not sure that's actually what would've happened. (There is always the chance I'm misremembering but it's worth noting because I puzzled over while reading the book).

However this book was a good book.  The message was a little heavy-handed, but it was a nice message about how the way we treat people matters and how we don't always see what people really are but what we expect them to be.  This is a coming of age story where the main character suddenly sees the world and despite it's negative aspects, chooses to continue seeing the world (whereas other people refuse to see the world for what it really is).   The book was a little bit mystery with some "was that real, was that not" mythical moments.  My favorite part, oddly enough, was the ending where Torey is reading emails that come in to his website.  It's clever, funny and made me laugh. After a dark and heavy book it was nice to have some levity at the end.

The audiobook narration was acceptable   It never really shines or adds anything unique or special to the story but it doesn't hinder the story either.  I didn't really like how the narrator shouted when Torey was mad and it's possible he contributed to the youngness of the book with his narration.  This isn't an audiobook I'd rush out and buy but if you see it at the library and need something to read it's not a bad choice.