Title: The Boy A Thousand Years Wide
Author: David Spon-Smith
Genres: Adventure | Dystopia | Fantasy | Paranormal | Post-apocalyptic | Romance
Length: 422 pages | 4191 locations
Baxter lives in the Burroughs, where every so often someone is taken to present as a sacrifice to the Reapers, in order to keep the City safe. His mother was taken from him and so was his brother and now it’s his turn.
A stranger arrives, saying he will help him. Can Baxter trust him? Or his twin that lives inside him?
When I first came across this book and saw the title I knew I had to have it.
Let me just say right now judging a book by its title is just as bad as doing it by its cover.
I don’t believe I have ever read a book with such bad prose in my entire life. These characters speak and act like they’re from the ghetto, particularly our main one, who is the novel’s narrator. There is a lot of I says and ain’t, for example.
But it wasn’t just the characters, mind you. The entire narrative was cringe-worthy. You might think well, that’s stylized writing, the character sounds that way so it is accurate that his thoughts would too. But no, that’s not it at all. His thoughts are written in a similarly terrible way, from utter lack of punctuation to words being glued together to all those pet peeves anyone who loves grammar will have. Let me give you a few examples:
(…) close to the fire, were its warmest.
I pass it too him.
We we’re all like that once
You have to hold your line, fight you’re instinct to swing
We cut across the landscape like an arrow threw the air
She clear’s her throat
And then we have this rough kid from the hood thinking all sorts of pretty metaphors, such as:
Waves of snow capped mountains roll up and down like crumpled paper. A dusty twilight haze drips down from the clouds above. The moon blossoms in the sky.
The mountains twinkle back at me, sunlight sparkles off the snow like the world’s been blanketed in glitter.
Moving on. From the beginning, I felt some transitions were not very clear – as in, one minute the character is standing in one place doing something and then he is elsewhere. Example, not even one of the best but still:
I don’t know about you but I could sure do with a little shut eye.”
Morning comes. Birdsong cuts through thehush(…) So the main character gets told the other one wants to sleep and that’s it, they slept and now it’s morning. Again, not the best example but the only one I could find at the moment. But oh then there’s this one where several people are standing near each other (though never clear how near, but close enough to have a conversation), a kiss occurrs, and no one comments on it? There’s no thoughts whatsoever? No one reacts in any way. So weird.
And then the story. First of all, we keep hearing about this Mary character during the entire time and how Baxter must find and protect her because he promised his brother. So I was like. Ok. Was she his brother’s girlfriend? Cause the main character’s kinda acting like she’s his. And if so… Why?? There was not a single reason why I felt those two might be connected let alone in love with each other.
And then the story is that Baxter must find his beloved while at the same time try and be claimed by his angel father. Who apparently can only claim him when he is close to death or something. I don’t know. Never made sense to me. The angels themselves seemed useless most of the narrative, other than being able to teleport. One of the characters has already been claimed but does nothing extraordinary. What a waste.
So we basically get moved around from place to place with descriptions of Baxter’s ‘twin’ rearranging his internal organs and muscles and telling him what to do and, of course, Baxter not doing it and going against anything anyone who has more than proven to be his friend tells him to do.
This main character… I simply could not connect to Baxter. I can respect the fact that he had no proper education – heck no other character apparently did – and a very rough childhood with everyone he cared for being taken away but the fact that that he was a raging teenager, who just could seem to control his temper or be polite to those who helped him throughout the entire book was really annoying. He was no longer naive, just plain dumb and irritating. Like when you tell a kid to do something and he says no just because, you know? At some point I was just so tired whenever I’d read his lines because he was just to rude, unappreciative and irritating! And then after a while he goes and that’s when it hit me, numerous times. And I am like. Really? That’s when it hits you? Again?
I kept wondering when things would get different because there I was travelling through snowy landscapes with the bunch of them, hearing Baxter ponder how the howling wind and the crows or whatever were an omen that bad things awaited them so they should definitely turn back and even though occasionally it got a bit creepy, most of the time I was like… When is this going to get interesting??
There just wasn’t much character building. On the other hand, there is a lot of throwing up and spitting on the floor whenever something is mentioned that a character doesn’t care for. There’s violence, lots of blood-shedding, demons and just plenty of dark stuff in the middle of a lot of snow.
There’s also no real world building, other than lots of snow and dreary landscapes, bad guys and that’s about it.
Do I know why it’s always winter? No. Do I find out how the world got to its current state? No, other than a few ominous remarks about greed. How did angels and demons even come to have such an active presence on Earth? No idea.
The whole book was a draft of those characters’ potential. Yeah, they could fight, but none of those sequences seemed that special, probably because I felt I kept reading the same thing over and over and also because I simply could not care about the characters.
Now had they been claimed and something interesting had actually come with that… I am sure that would have created some nifty fireworks.
In the end, I spent the entire book knowing the important revelations ahead of time, so I was even more bored. The mysterious stranger Axel. Dun dun dun. Who must he be? Could it be… Baxter’s brother Alex? I mean come on… Axel… Alex. It’s that obvious. I’m not shitting you. And his twin. We keep being told Baxter’s father is with him, guiding him. Who else could it be? Eurgh. Oh and the fabled Michael son, who could he be??
I think the only thing that surprised me was a certain character’s betrayal.
Grammar and punctuation aside, the whole thing just didn’t feel very cohesive. There was the issue with transitions, the story was predictable to the point I kept seeing stuff that I felt was obvious but it wasn’t to the characters and the potential behind the concept was not nearly well explored. And yeah, the writing. That alone deserves a couple of stars knocked out.
I kept hoping the ending would redeem the book. No such luck.
Characters who were thought dead return (can’t tell you how much I hate that, it is so overdone!), bad guys are defeated (much too easily, might I add – come on, a wolfhound kills a hellhound? A perfectly normal blade to the stomach kills a demon?) and the much yearned for father goes off to another quest. Só what happens to the Michael son everyone struggled so much to find and get claimed? Does he go with his father? Does he make plans to become a great warrior and do his part in whatever war is coming? No. He heads off to live in a prairie with his girlfriend and friends. Because friendship and love. Ah!!
So what did I take away from this book? Snow, violence and an annoying main character. And an enormous headache from trying to decipher the writing. Can’t say it was a positive balance. It was not my intention to write such a scathing review but this book felt like a waste of time and I cannot honestly think of anyone who might thoroughly enjoy it, which is a first for me.
Disclaimer: I would like to thank the publisher and Netgalley for providing me a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.
Read from Oct 21 to Oct 27, 2015