Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Angry Young Man by Chris Lynch

Angry Young Man by Chris Lynch
Simon & Schuster, February 8, 2011

Summary from Goodreads:
In Angry Young Man, award-winning author Chris Lynch takes us into the mind of a boy whose journey of self-discovery leads to the unthinkable.
I had high hopes for this book. I am a fan of Chris Lynch (I absolutely loved Inexcusable and Hothouse), even though I've read some lukewarm reviews of his stuff. Plus, I attended a workshop of the best in YA literature back in January, and the speaker praised this title. In addition, I thought the premise was intriguing, and that this might be a dark tale of two brothers--one who does something horrendous, and the other who tries to fix it. So my expectations were high.

Sadly, I couldn't really get into this story. First of all, I found the dialogue to be very stilted. Realistically, most people don't say "I am going to the library;" it's more common to hear "I'm going to the library." And it's certainly more realistic to read dialogue that's written in the way people actually speak. Unfortunately, most of this book was written that way--both dialogue and narrative. Now, I can certainly appreciate certain types of characters refusing to use contractions, but Xan and Robert aren't those kinds of characters. I think I would have appreciated more natural language throughout the novel.

Secondly, I really, really didn't like Robert, and it's hard to enjoy a novel when you dislike the narrator. I felt that Robert was pompous and belittled his brother way too much. Throughout the novel he would constantly tell us that Xan was good at something, but he was so much better. Which yeah, might have been true about most things, but no one likes a braggart. Robert has a job, Robert goes to community college, Robert plays on a men's soccer team, Robert has a girlfriend. Ugh. However, if Chris Lynch's goal was to create a nonlikeable narrator, than I suppose this could be considered a success!

And was it just me, or did there appear to be something not right about Xan? I'm no expert, but I thought that many of his behaviors warranted some kind of psychological evaluation. Instead, he's treated as weird and lazy. And the "bad situation" that Xan finds himself in--well, not to give any spoilers away, but I thought it was going to be much worse. I mean, what happened, or could potentially happen, was awful and could lead to horrific things. I thinkNI was just expecting something altogether different. Although I did appreciate the little twist at the end, and the scenario the brothers find themselves in. Which I felt was mostly because of Robert (not that Xan wasn't a participant, but...). Looks like someone isn't as perfect as he thought he was.

Overall, this book just didn't live up to my expectations, and I hate writing a negative review. It just wasn't for me. I will be happy to continue chatting up Inexcusable and Hothouse, though!

Enjoy your reading!

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