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War Boy [Paperback]

Kief Hillsbery
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)

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Book Description

6 July 2001
Told by a deaf-mute teenage skateboard freak, charged with the fevered intensity of youth, War Boy is a brilliant evocation of the search for love

Product details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Picador; New Ed edition (6 July 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0330392727
  • ISBN-13: 978-0330392723
  • Product Dimensions: 20.4 x 13 x 2.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,597,319 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Book Description

Fleeing his father, fourteen-year-old Radboy takes to the road with Jonnyboy, an older friend and the only person he trusts. On the bus headed out of town they hook up with Finn and Critter, speed-freak boyfriends who take a shine to both of them. They also meet Ula, who is mourning the death of her fiancé and taking a trip across the country in his memory. The five become fast allies, united by loss and by the allure of intimacy. When Jonnyboy drops out of sight, Radboy stays behind in San Francisco, where the underground world inspires his own burgeoning sexual and emotional desires. ‘Cult classic . . . A frantic rush of images as deaf-mute Radboy speeds through San Fran, hangs with his friends and falls in LOVE . . . The glorious rush of the words will blow you away’ Elle ‘It’s rare to be moved by something as apparently hip and accessible as War Boy, but that’s the way art works’ Washington Post

About the Author

Kief Hillsbery was born in Portland, Oregon. His feature articles on surfing, skateboarding and rock climbing have appeared in Rolling Stone and Outside magazine, where he is a columnist and contributing editor. War Boy is his first novel.

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First Sentence
I'm Rad I'm deaf I don't talk I'm fourteen I'm telling the story. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic mix of style, love and sk8boarding 13 Sep 2000
By A Customer
"War Boy" is the best book I have read for a long time. The story, as told by 14 year old deaf mute Radboy, is a stream of consciousness and realisation that swept me along from beginning to end, avoiding all cliches and enveloping me in a world that's far outside my experience but made me feel a part of. The style is exhilerating and refreshing. The major strength of the book is the characters and how real they feel, and how touching when seen through Radboy's eyes. It's a book that I actually avoided reading for a couple of days because I didn't want it to end.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars if u liked JUNK u'll love this 1 Jan 2002
By A Customer
I picked this up thinking it was going to be a war book as the title suggests but as i read the blurb i realised it was quite the opposite. Being a punk myself i decided id give it a go and was so glad i did. It contains everything you would want in a book, suspence, humour,real life struggles and it really makes u think. But a warning if ur homophobic u should steer clear!! i loved it and cant wait to read more of his novels. This was very similar to "Junk" which i also reccomend
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.5 out of 5 stars  22 reviews
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Forget Holden, Radboy's the Real Thing 1 May 2000
By Jared King - Published on
War Boy is The Catcher in the Rye of NOW! I'm 17, and I know that if they put this book out in a cheap paperback that teens could afford they would sell a million copies. Radboy is someone my generation can really relate to, especially compared to a preppie like Holden Caulfield back in my grandpa's time when there wasn't even rock and roll.
This was the first hardback book I ever bought, after reading the review in the Post, with quotes that made it sound like my best friend talking to me, instead of a writer talking down to me. But that review didn't cover the most important things about War Boy. It's about figuring out what's right and wrong and how to make your life count for something even when the cards are stacked against you. And it's about believing in yourself and following your own feelings instead of what society expects. Don't be scared off by the drugs and the queer characters, or the radical ideas. They're in there to challenge you to put aside your prejudice and learn from people who aren't like you. This book doesn't TELL you drugs are bad--it SHOWS you. But it also shows you why some people take drugs, and makes you understand, instead of just condemn, them.
I know the author must be at least 30, but he's stayed in touch with the good and bad parts of life as it's lived by somebody half his age. War Boy is very realistic about fears and emotions and desires. Unlike Rule of the Bone, for example, that tries to be all kewl wih a k as Radboy would say, but comes across like some old pothead hippie's idea of what it's like to be a teenager. For instance, in that book the narrator is 15 and thinks about sex ONCE for two pages out of 400. A 15 year old male? Radboy isn't obsessed with sex, but it's treated in a natural and sympathetic way, not ignored. Also, it is tied to love. To understand what a moral book this is, you have to read it. The promotion doesn't give the right impression. But it is never preachy. It is very funny, in fact. You will never forget Radboy. As I said, he is the Holden Caulfield of the 21st century.
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars ADDICTING! 15 Jun 2000
By Christian - Published on
I couldn't help but compare reading this book with snorting a huge line of the same chemicals the characters in this addicting novel were so fond of. And if you extend that metaphor out further, you'd eventually realize that each "line" of amphetamine that was heartily devoured in this story could be compared to the reader devouring each line of text in the same addicted manner.
"Radboy" thinks differently than anyone he knows. He has to, to survive. Only 14, and a deaf-mute, he lives moment to moment on the street, never sure where his life is taking him. He fled his abusive father, but not before his father attempts to kill him for falsely testifying against him in the "accidental" death of Radboy's mother. He is rescued and taken in by "Jonnyboy", another street survivor, and sworn "meth" addict...or tweeker. Jonnyboy and Radboy become good and fast friends, mainly because on the street, there aren't many you can trust. Through Jonnyboy, Radboy learns quickly the ways to survive, and is introduced to Jonnyboy's various friends, whom Radboy takes to hanging out with when Jonnyboy disappears for days at a time.
The story is told solely from the perspective of Radboy in a hyperkinetic narrative that free-associates its way to a brutal and nail-biting climax. The narrative device is at first off-putting, but lends itself perfectly to the story once the rhythm is found. We find ourselves following Radboy and his exploits almost as if we ourselves are amped up on speed and anxious for action. In this, his first novel, Kief Hillsbery delivers a fantastic new perspective to the world around us, and wraps it up in a tidy moral story about trust, real family, and friendship. I eagerly await his next book!
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Underground Masterpiece 7 Dec 2000
By Chet Makinster - Published on
The comparison to James Joyce in another reader review isn't overkill, believe it or not. The language of War Boy is dazzling and startling, beautiful and (yes, sometimes) challenging. The characters leap off the pages, fully realized and unforgettable. It doesn't matter if you've never ingested a controlled substance or listened to a note of alternative rock or had the briefest conversation with a sexual minority. You will hope with them, fear with them, laugh with them and root for them. Oprah and the other apostles of tolerance are missing the boat by not promoting this novel: War Boy walks the walk; it doesn't need to talk the talk. Kief Hillsbery deserves far more attention than he's received for his remarkable debut. By turns moving and hilarious, robust and tender, sweet and sinister, it surges everywhere with full-blooded life.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Absolutly Amazing... 14 May 2000
By Wunjo - Published on
I first picked up this book as an uncorrected proof in a used book store in San Fransisco, mostly because I was intrigued at the thought of a deaf-mute perspective in a novel. Being a great fan of dialogue in books, I was uncertain if a book could actually be told in this manner. I picked up the book once I got home, and got halfway through the first page before putting the book aside, certain because of the writing style that it was just going to be a mindless, pointless book. I finally ran out of other books, though, and went back to it. Once I got past that first page I was hooked. This is the type of book that grips you; it is completly authentic. I don't care if you have never talked like Radboy in your life, had any experiences like him, or whatever. You will relate to him and his friends more than you ever thought possible. This book veers around, from gritty to lyrical, and once you finish it, you won't want to let put it down. I've re-read it at least 3 times since I finished it. Buy this book. You will not be sorry.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Different Kind of "Kweer" 6 Oct 2000
By Joseph J. Hanssen - Published on
Here's a story that will keep you reading from the first page to the last non-stop. The story is told from the perspective of a 14 year old deaf-mute teenager fleeing his abusive father and taking to the road with a gay friend named Jonnyboy, an older mentor who becomes the only person "Radboy" (as Jonnyboy calls him) can trust. They meet three other people, boyfriends Critter and Finn, and Ula, a female with a vengeance of her own. There's lots of drugs, some sex, and violent events to keep you wondering where all this is going to end.
Once you get use to the hyper way this story is written in short sentences, you will get right in the beat of the story. So don't be put off by the first few pages, push on and you will soon be flowing right through to the end. For a first novel, Kief Hillsbery has given us a exciting, very human, hypnotic story. Forget what you were taught in school about proper grammar, this is an enlightening new breed of novel. An engrossing new literary voice has been born. I look forward to Kief's next book.
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