Top critical review
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Enjoyable but overrated
on 18 February 2013
Alex Woods is a minor celebrity after being hit on the head by a meteorite which crashed through his bathroom. Since then he's suffered from epilepsy and is bullied at school until one day when, being chased by the bullies, he jumps through a hedge and finds himself in the garden of Mr Peterson. After the bullies throw stones and break Mr Peterson's greenhouse Alex offers to help him repair the damage as punishment, and an unlikely friendship begins, especially as the two find they share a love of Kurt Vonnegut.
This is an enjoyable book but I found it extremely predictable - as soon as the opening chapter ended I could see exactly where the plot was going, and correctly guessed the back-story to the whole tale - and the same thing happened throughout the book (for example Alex is bullied but you just know he'll do or say something and the bullying will end; Alex is allowed to borrow an item of great sentimental value and you know it will get lost or damaged.) I found the character of Alex very hard to like, and the same was true of Mr Peterson - in fact the only character I really liked was Ellie, the goth who befriends Alex - and I found the section about Kurt Vonnegut incredibly tedious. However, about two thirds of the way through the book things change, the story turns its (predictable) corner, and for me things picked up a little until the somewhat abrupt ending which felt like a few pages were missing.
All in all it is a bit of a Marmite book - I can see why lots of people love it, but for me it was all too predictable and I didn't find it engaging (and I'm baffled by the blurb saying it is hilarious - nothing in the book even raised a smile for me.) Regarding the comparisons to "The Curious Incident..." - a book I loved - I think the only real similarity is that they both feature a lead character who has emotional issues. This book is okay, but in my opinion the praise being lavished upon it is a little unwarranted. Enjoyable, but far from a classic.