Tuesday, 21 January 2014
Review: The Scar Boys by Len Vlahos
Author: Len Vlahos Website|Twitter
Published: 21 January 2014 (Egmont USA)
Format: Kindle e-book (ARC)
Buy the hardback: Amazon|BookDepository
Buy the e-book: Kindle
Source: Received free copy from the publisher via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. Thanks Egmont USA!
Plot Summary (from Goodreads):
A severely burned teenager. A guitar. Punk rock. The chords of a rock 'n' roll road trip in a coming-of-age novel that is a must-read story about finding your place in the world...even if you carry scars inside and out.
In attempting to describe himself in his college application essay--help us to become acquainted with you beyond your courses, grades, and test scores--Harbinger (Harry) Jones goes way beyond the 250-word limit and gives a full account of his life.
I was attracted to this book because I love books that feature music and bands. The Scar Boys tells the story of Harry, an outcast after being struck by lightning as a child, as he and his friend Johnny start their own band.
Firstly, what's really great about The Scar Boys is the way in which it's written. The book takes the form of a college application essay which is supposedly limited to 250 words, only Harry decides he can't sum himself up in such a strict limit and goes on to detail his life story instead. It was such a fantastic idea and really gave you that feeling of nostalgia as Harry looks back at his own life and achievements. You get little hints of what's to come, as the story is being narrated by someone who knows what happens, which I liked. I completely got swept away on Harry's journey and felt like I was experiencing those moments along with him, from the horrific indicent that left him scarred to his first rejections from girls and first gigs with his band. There were so many ups and down and I loved going on that journey.
It's definitely one of those books that people will be able to relate to. Anyone who's ever felt different or stood out from the crowd, especially at school and throughout their teenagers. I can see the comparison's with R. J. Palacio's Wonder, another book which focuses on a main character with a physical disfigurement. I loved getting inside Harry's head and seeing the world from his perspective. Plus he's a pretty cool guy and I loved getting to know him.
The central friendship between Harry and his friend Johnny was an interesting one. I loved how the author has made it so it isn't perfect, and at times is always dysfunctional. Johnny has this power over Harry, who struggles to make other friends, and tends to abuse that power. I really liked how that friendship evolved over the years the story takes place and changes as the two boys' circumstances change.
I was drawn to the book because of the music theme, and that's something that was done really well. Each chapter title is a famous song lyric that ties in with what's happening with the book. It made me want to go and play all the songs featured and I'd be reading chapters with songs going round my head! I also liked how Harry was able to find comfort in music at certain times in his life, both listening and playing it.
The Scar Boys is quite a short book and a quick read. I liked the way it moved along quite quickly and the pace never seemed to drag. I was able to get through it in about a day and was hooked to the pages the whole time. The only downside to it being a bit shorter was the fact the book takes place over so many years. It means you didn't get to spend much time on each moment in Harry's life. I certainly would have liked to see some scenes in a bit more depth. It also meant the characters suffered sometimes, for example the relationship between Johnny and Cheyenne was never something I truly got on board with because I hadn't seen it develop.
Overall I was really impressed with The Scar Boys. I loved how it was written, a way that made it really stand out. I loved how I could lose myself in Harry's life and relate it to my own experiences. It's a book I'll definitely be recommending!
Books like this: Life in Outer Space by Melissa Keil, Wonder by R. J. Palacio, An Abundance of Katherines by John Green