I won Boo by Neil Smith through a Goodreads giveaway a few weeks ago and after a rough start I pretty much zoomed through the rest.
This book is beautiful. I love the colors and how the picture ties into the story. And the inside flap was also a nice surprise.
Each chapter is numbered according to the periodic table and while I think the author took used numerous numbers at once just to advance us closer to the 106 number, I was really glad to see a different way of using the chapters.
To be honest I must have only skimmed through the summary before I entered the contest because I assumed this was going to have a bit more of a horror element in it based on the title, the creepy cover and the fact that it's about a dead boy. When I read the first 50 or so pages I was so confused as to what I was actually reading that I got on Goodreads to read some of the reviews already posted. A lot of them mention that this book is similar to The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time and my heart sunk a little because I really didn't enjoy that book. After I made it through the introductory part of the book the pace picked up a little and I wasn't quite so leery of it.
Boo is a thirteen year old boy who believes he died of a medical condition and wakes up in a surreal form of heaven where everyone who dies is divided by their age and country. While this is an interesting and new take on heaven, I'm a little confused as to what happens if you're a newborn baby that dies. Boo makes it a point to explain that life in heaven is pretty much the same as on Earth where you need to eat and can be hurt (even though you heal quicker). Even though you exist in this version of heaven for fifty years you may grow wiser but your body never ages so can you imagine living for fifty years in the body of a two year old? I think that up to at least age six or seven it would be impossible for these rules to apply and I wish that had been explained.
Johnny was my favorite character because you could tell he kept an enormous amount of secrets close to his heart. A part of me thinks that he might have had a little bit of a crush on Boo back in their real lives and I am completely on board with that because it explains why he does everything that he does for him throughout the book. Even though he arrives at heaven five weeks later than Boo he quickly turns into the leader of their little group and tries to protect Boo and build up his confidence. He smirked a lot, though. Pretty much every chapter had someone smirking and it was almost always Johnny.
A book with an autistic narrator is interesting and I'm glad we didn't have the same boring old character like 99% of other YA novels. On the other hand, autism is very clinical and matter of fact and I feel like it was hard to connect with Boo through most of the book. It wasn't until towards the end that we kind of cracked his shell and got to really feel for him.
The side characters were all colorful and full of personality and once again, extremely glad that Smith included so many different types of people. We had a girl with dwarfism, an African-American and another African-American who suffered from vitiligo.
The twist in the middle of the book was easily read from a mile away but I loved how the twist slowly unraveled the further you read and up until the very end you were still confused as to what actually happened.
Boo and the portal was a little bit of a deus ex machina and I didn't enjoy that part much. Too much had changed and it was a little jarring to have him out in the real world even if it was for only a chapter.
Overall I enjoyed this book and I'm glad I got the chance to read and review it even if it wasn't what I was expecting.