Just like Neo in The Matrix I made an audible "Whoa!" at the end of this book. Just like Neo in The Matrix I was downloaded into someone else's reality and forced to live in their world. Seeing the world through Lucky Linderman's eyes reminded me of being a teenager; the pressure, the bullies, and the constant bullshit.
Except that Lucky is nothing like Neo; all that Lucky can do is dream about his grandfather who went missing during the Vietnam War. Lucky has no evil machines to fight; just a bully named Nadar McMillan who is a special kind of sociopath.
Grandpa's world is the only place that Lucky can escape to. There's no real bullshit there and Lucky serves a purpose: rescue grandfather at all costs. Are the dreams real? Or is Lucky experiencing Dr. House-like hallucinations?
Eventually Lucky's mother tires of the bullying and takes him to his Uncle's. And as always adventures do ensue. And as always there's a girl there for Lucky. And as always this is where things take an interesting turn.
We realize that Lucky does have a few problems; he's not a reliable narrator, and who the hell sends out suicide questionnaires as a social studies project? Who the hell doesn't stick up for themselves? What kind of a father just ignores his teenage son's problems? What kind of mother spends all day swimming away her issues?
"Good luck with that. Escaping assholes is about as easy as escaping oxygen."The line between my life, Lucky's life, and Lucky's dreams blurred for me at one point. All that social pressure came back. The bully-e and the bully-er. The feeling that adults just. Don't. Get. It. That rush of a first kiss and the nervous realization that--as a guy--you will have to deal with vaginas for the rest of your life.
This is one young adult novel that gets it right in a way that John Green* and others can't; the amount of cursing, the amount of sexual tension, the amount of grit, and the occasional boner are all in here.** Many authors shy away from strong language for obvious reason; but this is how our children talk when we aren't around, this is what they think and this is how they feel these days.
This book produced a few sobs, a few what the fuck moments of anger, and one big WHOA at the end. And yeah, I giggled at the boner jokes.
Note: There is a song called Sleeping Sickness by a band called City & Colour. It fits the tone of this book perfectly.
*I love John Green. I am in no way knocking him.
**The right level of cuteness for a young adult novel is still retained, however.
End Note: Boner. Hehehehe.