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A Very Promising Start to a Series
on 2 January 2012
Firstly, this book is written for younger readers. It is not written for adults. That being said, there is no reason why adults should not read and enjoy it. Kathy Reichs and Harlan Coben are also, similarly, creating series aimed at younger readers.
Theodore Boone is the thirteen year old son of two lawyers. He spends much of his time in the courthouse and around lawyers. He is old for his years and very well versed in the law.
Without giving away too much of the plot, Theodore winds up involved in a trial. He is trying to keep promises and do what is right. Also, he attends school and helps out his fellow classmates with their everyday, adolescent problems - but by giving them legal advice.
The book does not have a twist or a surprise, rather, it is a straightforward, realistic tale that will help kids understand the law. It is extremely well written - simple yet sophisticated. Readers, providing they give it a chance, will find themselves drawn into the world of this intelligent young protagonist. He knows the difference between right and wrong. He tries to help others. He gets frustrated that grown-ups are in control of his life. Aside from his extraordinary preoccupation with the law, he is an ordinary teenage boy facing ordinary teenage problems but looking at them from a different perspective.
The only slight problem with the main character is that he is a little more like the teenager parents wish they were raising rather than the one they actually are. He borders a bit upon the too-good-to-be-true. This may make him, for now, a little difficult for others to identify with. But, characters leading ordinary lives and having ordinary hgoughts and ordinary problems would not be very interesting to read about. What makes Theodore stand out is that he is different. And he does, in the end, make a difference in the world of grown-ups. I'm positive that, given time, Grisham will develop his character throughout subsequent installments of the series.
The story is not packed with action. But do not look on this as a bad thing. He goes to school. He has a crush on a girl. He gets caught up in incidents that are outwith his control. This is how kids' lives are. Often books for teenagers are too full of action - designed like a 45min TV episode. This story provides a moral dilemma, invites readers to think about what they would do in a similar situation, and has a realistic conclusion. Lack of explosions and car chases are NOT a bad thing! It plods along at a nice pace. Much like life really is. It is not dull. It is simply a more dignified approach to storytelling.
Reviews indicate that the next book in the series is more exciting. Therefore, I look upon this one as an opening to a series. It introduces the character. It inroduces readers to the law as it really is, not how it is portrayed on TV. Finally, it is a story based on ethics and grown-up situations, as they apply to kids. And it has a good kid making a difference.
Give the series a chance. I thoroughly enjoyed the story. I knew it was written for young adults. I knew that it was a gentle plot, not overly graphic, or ridiculously fast paced with unrealistic scenarios and twists throwing the reader off at every turn. I will be purchasing the sequel.