Friday, December 9, 2011
Guantanamo Boy vs. Jack Tumor
We've read our picks and the vote is in... Guantanamo Boy moves on! Here are the summations:
"Jack Tumor" by Anthony McGowan
"Jack Tumor" is an entertaining read with lots of potty humor and a decidedly British flair. It is a story about a boy named Hector who has an animated tumor in his head that talks to him incessantly. He goes through his adolescent life as a nerd and the tumor just adds to his angst, often contradicting him and pushing him in different directions. Hector is a sympathetic character and we genuinely want things to work out for him.
Though it is a fun read, the story gets lost frequently in the nonsense ramblings and left-field musings of the author (who uses Hector as a vehicle for this). Hector wonders about everything and has to tell us about it all. In many ways, the details are overdone. Every friend of the protagonist has a nickname and we are told the background story of each. We are similed to pieces "as if..." or "like a..." over and over again. And there are a few too many references to buttholes and farts and genitalia even for junior high kids.
In short, humor is good, but it should not interfere with the telling of the story.
"Guantanamo Boy" by Anna Perera
Khalid is an English high school boy who goes on a trip to Karachi, Pakistan with his family to see some relatives. While he is there, his dad goes missing and Khalid tries unsuccessfully to track him down. Things go from bad to worse as Khalid is abducted and thrown into a whirlwind of interrogation and abuse.
"Guantanamo Boy" is a thoughtfully written story with a genuine protagonist and supporting cast. The narration is in present tense, making every turn feel a little more tense and pressing. It begs all kinds of moral questions and points out injustice without lecturing. For mature students, this novel could prove to be an excellent gateway to current events and ethics debates.
Overall, "Guantanamo Boy" takes the Smackdown win over its rival, "Jack Tumor."