Author: Neil Smith
Published: May 12th, 2015
This novel was generously sent to me for review from Penguin Random House.
Boo by Neil Smith is the heartbreaking yet funny story about a boy named Oliver Dalrymple who is unlike any of his peers at Helen Keller Junior High. Oliver is interested in science, and loves to memorize the periodic table in his free time, but his classmates find this strange, and pick on him for his eccentricities.
Everything seemed to be normal, or as normal as it could be for someone like Oliver, until he suddenly dies, and is sent to heaven.
How did he die? Oliver was born with a heart defect that left him with a weak heart. He believes this is the reason for his death. When Oliver arrives in heaven, it is much different from the movies he saw back on earth. For starters, everyone in Oliver’s heaven is thirteen years old, just like he was the day he died.
Oliver is placed in a group called the “gommers” which is a counseling group for people who have been murdered. This seems strange to Oliver because he thought he had died of a heart defect. Shortly after, another classmate from Helen Keller Junior High joins Oliver in heaven. This boy named Johnny says that Oliver did not die of a heart defect, but was murdered by Gunboy, a shooter in their school.
Who was my favourite character and why?
My favourite character would be Johnny, a boy in Oliver’s grade at their old school. Right from the beginning he stood up for Oliver and wanted to help him find his murderer that they called Gunboy. Johnny not only becomes one of Oliver’s good friends in heaven, but he allows Oliver to feel that he is not alone.
Were the characters relatable and/or believable?
Although this novel was unlike anything, I had ever read due to the original plot, the characters were relatable. Oliver and Johnny were students sent to a heaven that tried to figure out how to cope with the recent loss of their old lives. They would never again be able to see their families, or talk to them, as they had been able to on earth. Oliver, Johnny and the other children in heaven reacted in believable ways and were able to interact with each other as kids their age would.
Did the story keep you on the edge of your seat?
Absolutely! Neil Smith was able to keep me turning the pages long after I should have been asleep… Mr. Smith had you thinking a certain scenario would happen, and would go ahead and rip the carpet out from under you. To say that I did not see what was going to happen would be an understatement. I was not only on the edge of my seat, I fell off it a few times as well. This is such a great story, although it is heartbreaking, it is a must read novel.
Something I would change about the novel?
Absolutely nothing. It was a heartbreaking read, but it was such a great story! The characters interacted in a way that made them realistic, as well as entertaining. The story line kept you on the edge of your seat the entire time, and it was an original novel, which is very difficult to do now a days.
Honestly, this novel has such an original setting and plot line that I cannot think of any novels that compares.
Something that did strike me as odd, or perhaps intriguing while reading this novel was that our main character’s name was Oliver Dalrymple, yet everyone called him “Boo” because of his pale skin colour.
Oliver’s nickname reminded me of Boo Radley from To Kill A Mockingbird. Boo Radley similarly to Oliver is a shut out from society because of his differences. Johnny reminded me of Scout the way she was able to free Boo Radley just as Johnny was able to free Oliver from his life on earth.
Review: Overall, I would highly recommend this novel to anyone that enjoys reading. This is a must read novel that will keep you wanting more. Neil Smith’s debut novel Boo is a hit, and I cannot wait to read what he publishes next. 5 out of 5 tea mugs!
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Until next time,