4 out of 5 stars | Goodreads
I received a copy of this book for free from the publisher, in exchange for an honest review.
I’ve noticed a formula with all of the Matthew Quick books I’ve read so far. They all feature:
- a main character (or characters) with quirky habits or personal issues that go deeper than they initially appear to
- an emphasis on the importance of family and friendship, no matter how rocky the relationship, or how difficult things might be
- a particular hobby or interest that the main character has a real passion for – and it’s not always healthy
So far this formula has worked very well for Quick – and Boy21 is no exception. It’s very much his writing – simple yet unique, thoughtful and very centered around character development. When we first meet Finley, he tells us the short, sweet story of how he met his girlfriend, Erin. They have known each other since they were kids, and their relationship to me felt so genuine. They’re so supportive of each other with their basketball careers. The one element I didn’t quite understand of their relationship was that they broke up every basketball season, then got back together after. I understand why, so they wouldn’t distract each other, but I don’t really understand how they could do it if their relationship was so great. Or maybe that’s the point, they’re so trusting and comfortable with each other that they know three months not even talking each year will be fine?
Russ’ introduction, on the other hand, was crazy. And very sad. Convinced that he is in fact an alien called Boy21, who will be ‘collected’ by his parents in a few months, he refers to Finley as ‘Earthling’ and asks him questions such as where his ‘dwelling pod’ is. Neither Finley, nor the reader, know whether Russ is actually convinced that he is an alien or whether he has just put up this very elaborate front to try and keep the pain of his parents’ murder away – and it’s heartbreaking. In his more lucid moments, Russ proves to be a great friend, and in a strange role reversal, manages to coax Finley out of his shell.
Although Finley was at times a rather spineless character – his main ambition seemed to be to follow Erin around wherever her basketball career might take her, and stay with her for the rest of his life – he was a genuinely selfless guy, prepared to help out Russ, even if his very presence threatened one of the things that meant most to Finley – his place on the basketball team.
Overall, a wonderful story about how different people deal with loss, and a great coming of age tale. My main complaint was that I was bit lost amongst the basketball terminology at times, but that’s about it! A definite recommendation for anyone who has previously enjoyed Quick’s works, as well as those of YA contemporary authors such as John Green.