Wednesday, January 2, 2013
Having a couple of days to digest this book is a good thing, because it is definitely the type of book that leaves an impression.
Cameron is an average kid, just this side of slacker, and he's just trying to make it through high school and find some good in life. Then he is diagnosed with what is basically Mad Cow Disease. Now his limbs don't function the way he wants and he's prone to seeing things. This lands him in the hospital with a death sentence. Until Gonzo, a hypochondriac dwarf, ends up in his room too. Cameron had met Gonzo at school, and knew that he was an eccentric guy, but it's more than that. And one night, a beautiful punk angel, Dulcie, appears in his room and tells Cameron that there is a cure for his disease and that all he has to do is travel across the country, find Dr. X, resolve the parallel universes, overcome the fire demons and save the world. Easy peasy. Cameron takes off with Gonzo in tow, picks up a Norse god disguised as a garden gnome, plays jazz with a legend, bowls for happiness, gets laid at Spring Break, and lands himself in Disney World trying to find the cure. And other assorted adventures occur too, but this is just a summary.
Basically, Cameron fights so hard and lives so much in the little time that he has left. He is full of hope and longing to keep living this life that he previously thought was torture. He becomes close to unlikely people, receives help in the strangest places, and learns that nothing is random.
And the ending is both heartbreaking and uplifting, because in between all the driving, swearing, and partying, there are these dreams where Cameron is still in the hospital, and he sees his family gathered around him. What is real and what is a dream?
What is amazing about this book is that nothing is ever random. The smallest thing, like a broken snow globe, leads to a major plot point down the road. And Cameron's desire to live despite his diagnosis is incredible. He does not have a stiff upper lip bravery, or an overly optimistic positive attitude, just a desire to live for once before he dies, and honestly, most people, sick or not, could use that perspective.
Plus, there's some pretty crazy physics going on this book, which interests me as a languish in the physics office. I'm seeing a display in my future explaining the physics of parallel universes as it relates to this book, although someone will have to explain parallel universes to me first.
This book is not for the faint of heart. There is a lot of swearing, sex, drug use, etc. It's a teen boy quest! He wants to live with no consequences, because he's dying anyway, and get with any girl that will have him. But, the foul language and incessant partying are not forced, it's all very natural and fits the character. Just don't give this to a prim and proper reader and you'll be fine. I honestly see this as a great book for the grown-up Percy Jackson fan. It's a quest novel. There is danger and fantasy, and a Norse god for crying out loud!
I finished this book a week ago, and what I remember most now is that the plot was exhilarating, the friendships were true, the losses hurt, and the ending brought me to tears. Not too bad for some light, holiday reading.
Happy New Year and Happy Reading!