This is an old review*, though I still feel the same about it now as I did then. As always, I add my current thoughts on the title at the end of this review, so you should still check it out! 🙂
*This book was also used in a booktalk for class.
The Boy Who Couldn’t Sleep and Never Had To by DC Pierson • 2010 • Vintage • 226 pages
“A witty coming-of-age novel. . . . In Darren and Eric, Pierson has created two engaging and memorable co-conspirators and co-protagonists.”
Genre/Theme: Coming of Age, Teens, Science Fiction, Sex, Nerd and Geek-dom, Friendship, Slice-Of-Life, Comedy, Suspension of Belief, High Schoolers
Brief Summary: The book is told by Darren Bennet, a high schooler, who meets Eric Lederer, the boy with the peculiar condition. He doesn’t sleep. They become friends over mutual interests of a love of drawing, being social outcasts, and a perpetual fear of girls. It’s the typical high school gimmick, except it’s not.
Evaluation: 2 of 5 stars
1-2 things you liked:
- How he describes his drawing process.
- That the story was told from the best friend Darren, instead of the boy who actually couldn’t sleep. I think that was clever because it gives an outsider look on this strange phenomenon rather than a first person account.
- In terms of marketing value: the title is well chosen, as it sounds very Harry Potter (He Boy Who Lived) [or even Lisbeth Salander (The Girl Who Played With Fire) although that would be the wrong age group…]. This will hopefully entice readers of Harry Potter to wonder what this book might be about. On the other hand, depending on the reader, it could also be a turn off as well (what are they trying to do? Make another Harry Potter knock-off?)
- Most of the humor wasn’t half bad, but sometimes I just couldn’t relate.
1-2 things you didn’t like:
- The constant stream of consciousness writing style. I know the idea is that teens supposedly think this way, but I think it really excludes those who don’t think this way. Personally, I never had this supposed “disjointed” thought process growing up and find this writing style incredibly distracting and counterproductive. Even if teens may or may not think this way, there is no reason to promote it in their reading. After all, it is only promoting the idea that “Hey! Someone PUBLISHED this PROFESSIONALLY and yet it’s full of mistakes, and run-on sentences, and clunky as hell. Now I have an excuse to do that too!”
- Clunky, disjointed sentences (that can’t even be called stream of conscious, seriously)
- The book is written in present tense (and I really can’t stand that unless it has a real purpose or isn’t so IN MY FACE)
- It can be a bit hard to follow, and drag in too many places.
Would you recommend this book?: No. Seriously. This book was not a favorite.
Looking Back (Current Thoughts & Eval): Okay. So here’s my problem with this book, thinking back on it now. I can’t remember a damn thing about it.
NOT A WORD.
—oh wait. No. That’s not entirely true. I do remember weirdly written sentences and badly written stream of consciousness passages. Which is fine. Who doesn’t love that sort of thing, right?
Well… I certainly do… but…. this just didn’t do it for me. It might have been because I was reading another book about sleeplessness and murder while asleep called The Boy Who Couldn’t Die by William Sleator. So it was actually getting me a bit confused trying to separate the two from one another.
Though I doubt it.
This book just… I don’t know. Some have said it’s their age that wouldn’t allow them to connect with the book, but that wasn’t the case when I first read this book, and it still isn’t the case now looking back on it. The humor was only somewhat there for me, the characters were… only somewhat ok, as well… And, well, obviously not that memorable a book either. It wasn’t a complete flop. I just didn’t really like it that much. And, of course, because I don’t remember (nor did I ever buy a copy of it), I can’t really give a better review than this.
Maybe one day I’ll find an old copy, or have nothing to read and go to my library and check it out again for a re-read… But… I seriously doubt this.