Saturday, April 5

Struck By Lightning by Chris Colfer

In accordance with the FTC, Quill Café would like to disclose that the reviewer purchased this book. The opinions expressed are hers alone and no monetary compensation was offered to her by the author or publisher. Cover art is copyright of Little Brown and is used solely as an aide to the review.

All Carson Phillips wants is to attend Northwestern University. It's his first step to becoming a renowned journalist and one-day editor of the New Yorker. First he has to be accepted, graduate high school, and leave the mind-numbing small town of Clover behind forever.

When his acceptance to Northwestern doesn't look like a sure thing, Carson must boost his chances by constructing a literary magazine. Yet when the prospect of submissions looks bleak, he resorts to extreme measures to solidify his future: blackmail.

Carson has never held much love for his peers or the social constructs of high school, but is he willing to step on everyone around him to get what he wants?

'Struck By Lightning' is an excellent novel, which was originally written as a screenplay. I had already seen the film – starring Colfer himself – and was blown away. Despite being written solely from Carson's perspective, the novel expands on the narrative and delivers an even more humorous and heartfelt execution.

What drives 'Struck By Lightning' is Carson's character and narrative voice. The novel is written in first person, in the style of a journal. Carson has the unfiltered thoughts that resonate with any reader who has lived through the frustrations of high school. His snide attitude and wonderfully cynical humour is refreshing.

Carson's often cruel attitude that sets him up to be a contentious character, but his situation makes him sympathetic. He has one friend, a dejected mother, an absent father, and a treasured grandmother with Alzheimer's. Carson makes the reader mindful of the way we view and treat others, and boosts the importance of having a sense of conviction in your ambitions.

It was interesting the way in which Colfer used the stereotypical high school cliques to represent the student body at Clover High. Not only was it a clever commentary on the tropes, but Carson's perception also highlighted how we each have our own pigeon-holed prejudices. I liked that, while the insight into secondary characters was restricted, there was enough of a glimpse past the assumptions and clichéd façades, particularly in their contributions to the literary magazine.

'Struck By Lightning' is an excellent novel, which encourages readers to contemplate our attitudes to ourselves and the people around us. It is earnest and witty. I cannot recommend it highly enough, and I look forward to reading more of Colfer's work in future.

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