Book Review

Book Review: New Boy


Rating: 2 Stars
Date Started: 1 April 2017
Date Finished: 14 April 2017
Pages: 192
Genre: Fiction, Retelling

I’m just gonna go ahead and blame this book on the bad reading slump I’ve experienced these last two weeks. I mean there’s not even 200 pages to this book but it literally took me two whole weeks to finish! How does that even compute?

I can’t quite put my finger on what about this book I didn’t like. The writing style was impersonal and distant. Whenever I could bring myself to read this, I found my mind wandering and having to reread whole paragraphs. There was nothing compelling to keep my attention on the story.

Which is another thing that irritated me. This whole drama plays off in ONE DAY!!! I mean I get that kids can be dramatic and whatever, but are you kidding me? And especially considering that everything that the “good guys” do is so out of character, there’s no build-up at all! No slow decent into fiery rage, no carefully tended plans and scheming. Just wham-bam-thank-you-ma’am. Even allowing for the fact that this is fiction, it’s just hard to believe realistically.

The characters were supposed to be 12, but acted like 30 year olds, and not a single one of them felt even remotely real. Everyone was one-dimentional and superficial, even Ian who’s supposed to be the big baddie. O’s sudden snap is so sudden that it feels like two different characters, and Ian’s reasons for doing what he does is the stupidest of all and feels like it was just thrown in because… well because we need an Ian.

There was some definitely sloppy tackling of racism that felt completely out of sync with the rest of the book and like it was being forced down your throat. I get that the book is set in a time when race issues were on a tightrope, and I know that Othello (which I absolutely loved and of which this book is a retelling of) had it’s own share of race issues, and I know the author probably tried to make it relevant to today’s issues as well… but it just wasn’t done very well at all.

I read Othello in school and can’t quite remember any of the nitty-gritty specifics, but the story has stayed with me ever since, and I’m just really disappointed right now. I’m most upset by Ian, because Iago is probably one of my all-time-favorite villains, and compared to him Ian didn’t even make the radar. Maybe if we hadn’t been dealing with 12 year olds and there had been a couple more pages, it could have been better, but as a retelling this book just really didn’t do the original justice at all.

If you haven’t read Othello and don’t know what the story is about, I still don’t think this is a great read. Even trying to be objective and unbiased, I can’t find anything good to say here… which I’m really sorry about because I soooo wanted to love this book! I wonder if there are other retellings out there that can hold a candle to the original…

New Boy is available from Amazon on pre-order