Publishing Date: May 12, 2015
Publisher: Knopf Canada
Pages: 320 pages
Fiction/Coming of Age
The Premise: The story follows Oliver Dalrymple, who wakes up one day in a town after a tragic accident that is only populated by 13 year olds. This town is basically heaven because Oliver arrives to this town because he is dead. He learns that he has arrived to this town after a tragic accident because of his faulty heart and he learns that he died from a "holey heart." Things start to change however, when a student from the same school as him, arrives in town who was also killed shortly after Oliver. Together, Oliver and Johnny and the rest of the townspeople attempt to unravel the murder mystery and locate the "Gunboy" that targeted both Oliver and Johnny. It is a coming of age story that comes together to unravel the mystery but also to help Oliver and Johnny discover the truth about themselves.
My overall thoughts and review: When I was first sent this book, I was intrigued by the cover and the description on the back. Shortly after, the gals at RHC pitched this book at their Blogger Conference and stated that it was as if The Lovely Bones and Lord of the Flies had a baby. I love both those books so I was incredibly excited to start reading this. I love how each chapter begins with an element from the periodic table because that is the last thing that Oliver remembers at his locker before he "meets his maker." Oliver is such an interesting character. There is a lot of mystery to Oliver, but at the same time he reads like an open book. He is such a strong character and you can see the growth in his character (not appearance, since they do not age. They stay the age that they died as) with each passing chapter. I was incredibly fascinated by the story and I was quite surprised with the twists and turns. Just when you think you have it figured out and you are satisfied with the turn of events, Neil Smith takes you down another road and surprises you yet again. I think it has quite a powerful narrative tackling the topic of school shootings and it attempts to show the problem from all different angles which I really appreciated. My only criticisms would be that at times, I found myself a bit confused with the time jumps and certain passages, I had to go back and read over a couple times again. Other than that, I think the subject matter and just the writing itself was wonderful. I can't say too much without spoiling it, but trust me when I say that this one is a definite must-read if you are interested in contemporary coming of age stories. This is my first time reading anything by Neil Smith and I was super impressed and I can't wait to read more from him!
My rating of the book: ✮✮✮✮ (4/5 stars)
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Disclaimer: I received an Advanced Readers Copy of this book from Random House Canada for consideration/review. All opinions are my own.