Friday, 4 May 2012

Cannonball read #14: Boy's life by Robert McCammon

The author's name is Robert McCammon. Not Stephen King. Despite all the similarities: the nostalgia for a lost, beloved boyhood. The close-knit community. The sense of evil lurking in the shadows of the little town.

Cory is eleven years old and is having a hell of an eventful year. It all starts when he witnesses a car going off a cliff and into a lake, and his dad jumping into the lake to save the driver. Only the driver is already dead when the car hits the water. Thus begins the mystery that's at the heart of this book. Who is the dead man, and who killed him?

McCammon builds a rich story around this central mystery, adding other elements that seem magical in the eyes of an eleven year old and of a reader that hasn't forgotten how significant little things can seem to a child. The nods to Stephen King appear to be intentional, the whole book a tribute to the young heroes of many of King's books. But where King's children are often precocious and wise beyond their years, McCammon's Cory is truly young. He makes mistakes. He has a vivid imagination that leads him to trouble. The narrator of the story is an adult Cory looking back at his pre-teen years, but although the language is that of a grown-up, the events are described as witnessed by the eleven-year old version.

The mystery is perhaps not so gripping as one might think, considering it is what drives the plot forward. That's not to say that it's not interesting; it's just that there are so many sub-plots that are just as interesting. McCammon weaves it all lovingly into a very entertaining book, with some political undertones. Perfect to read on a summer afternoon with a glass of ice-cold lemonade in your hand.

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