Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Struck By Lightning by Chris Colfer

Title: Struck By Lightning
Author: Chris Colfer
Publisher: Atom
Released: November 20th 2012
Pages: 272 (Paperback)
Buy: Amazon UK / Amazon US

Struck By Lightning: The Carson Phillips Journal follows the story of outcast high school senior Carson Phillips, who blackmails the most popular students in his school into contributing to his literary journal to bolster his college application; his goal in life is to get into Northwestern and eventually become the editor of The New Yorker. At once laugh-out-loud funny, deliciously dark, and remarkably smart, Struck By Lightning unearths the dirt that lies just below the surface of high school. At a time when bullying torments so many young people today, this unique and important novel sheds light with humor and wit on an issue that deeply resonates with countless teens and readers.

I don't think I have laughed so much at a book in months. As soon as I read the blurb, I knew this novel would be full of Colfer's wicked sense of humor and sarcasm, but I had no idea how many times I would slap it down onto a chair and clutch at my sides to soothe my stitch!

Struck By Lightning follows Carson Phillips, the outspoken genius of Clover, a small town in the USA with a population of under 10,000. Carson hates his hometown, and dreams about the day where he will run The New Yorker. However, to get into the university to get there, he's got to publish a literary magazine...which means getting the ape-like students at his school to participate. And how do you get that to happen? Nope, not a genie: you blackmail them.

I've read a few reviews that complain about Colfer's characterization of Carson. He is self-centered, obnoxious, rude, a bully...and although I agree that he does have all those points, he also has some good ones, too. He comes from a broken home, with an absent father, depressed mother, and a gran who looks at him as if he's a stranger. He's been shunned throughout his school life, and aside from Malerie, he doesn't have any friends - he's lonely. Yes, it was self-inflicted, but he was lonely, and I felt that there was a lot more to his character than just his overall arrogance.

I also liked how he developed the other characters surrounding Carson, as all their characteristics played off different aspects of his own personality. Colfer created them all as the high school cliche's - the goth, the dumb jock, the plastic cheerleader, the richy daddy's boy, the over-dramatic drama queen, the exchange student, the know-it-all, and that one kid that just isn't altogether there. Paired of Colfer's witty snips of sarcasm, he made this cliched group hilarious.

Now onto the plot. I thought it was an interesting idea, to push the bullied so far that they actually become a bit of a bully themselves. I am completely against abuse of every kind, but it was interesting to watch Carson's plans unfold. I also liked the little tie-in with his grandma - although he seemed to be spiraling out of control, she somehow managed to reel him back in, despite not knowing what was really going on. It kept the character and the plot realistic, because it showed that through his blackmailing, he still had emotions, which kept the reader still feeling a bit sorry for him.

I also read some reviews from people who didn't like his writing style - apparently it was too obvious, and Carson spoke about himself too much. I'd just like to point out to everyone that, Hello?! It's a flipping journal! Of course it'll be obvious and of course he will talk about nothing but himself.

I also think that part of me really enjoyed this story because I could relate to Carson a great deal - maybe more than I'd like to admit? I, too, have a gran who suffers from Alzheimer's, and I know how it feels to watch someone you love slowly begin to forget who you are. I also know what it's like to despise your hometown and your high school - your high school years do suck, and you meet a lot of people who will bully you and push you down until you crack. I think that Colfer really got that across in the novel.

Overall, I did enjoy the book, and found it a very easy read. However, I've got to say that the ending severely just didn't bode well with me - it was sudden, unexpected, and very anticlimactic. It was a disappointing end to such a laugh-out-loud funny book.
Rating: 4/5

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