“...Once upon a time,
there was a boy who flew.”
there was a boy who flew.”
Struck By Lightning is the novel companion to the movie of the same name (still to come out in the UK unfortunately) written by actor (and screenplay writer of the film) Chris Colfer.
Meet Carson Philips, a highly ambitious high school outcast, hell-bent on heading to Northwestern University to study and one day become a writer for The New Yorker. But first he has to get out of his small town of Clover and bolster his college application by submitting a literary journal. The problem is he hates everyone in this town and he's pretty sure he's one of the least popular guys in schools thanks his Holden-esque attitude on life - not that he actually cares. His dreams, however, are bigger than his obstacles so he and his friend Malorie set out a plan...blackmail the most popular students in the school to contribute and the rest will follow suit.
The story pans out as Carson delves into the lives of his fellow classmates, discovering some reputation altering secrets and using them to his advantage. All the while he's managing his broken home life, alcoholic, drug addicted mother, and M.I.A. father, with his only respite being his grandmother, who suffers from Alzheimer's. Despite his malicious and selfish intent Carson finds that he's not the only one with problems and dreams of getting out of town.
So what's my verdict?
Writing this as unbiased as I can, and believe me as a Colfer-fan this is hard, I have to say the novel was just okay. It's a simple YA story of a boy who just wants to get out of town, Carson himself isn't a very likable character at the beginning but he is relatable especially towards the end and his moments of sheer annoyance at his fellow classmates are something I'm sure many of us have felt. The humour in the novel reeks of Chris Colfer's natural sarcastic tone but the subtle moments of emotional dialogue are definitely heartfelt. The secondary characters are both ridiculous and hilarious, Marlorie in particular has some of the best lines in the book, and Carson's relationship with his ailing grandmother and his mother is really well done. The book won't shake the earth in terms of originality but the story carries through nicely, and will leave you with a bittersweet feeling at the end.
As a backwards screen-to-book adaptation I do feel like I should have seen the movie before hand, as the screenplay alongside the actors' own personal improvisational lines aid the story's humour and emotional arc. That being said I would definitely recommend this for any who wants a quick read or is curious about Colfer's writing style.
Dirty Little Secret: All American Rejects; Everyday Is Like Sunday: Morrisey; It's Only Life: Kate Voegele; Teenagers: My Chemical Romance; Bad Reputation: Joan Jett;
For lovers of...Will Grayson/Will Grayson, Catcher In The Rye, John Hughes movies and Chris Colfer (and I mean CHRIS COLFER, if your reading for Kurt Hummel you're not gonna find him here). Also check out the SBL trailer here (warning, be prepared for lots of LoLs)