Saturday, June 14, 2008

Martyn Pig by Kevin Brooks

Anyone who knows me knows I occasionally read young adult books simply for the pleasure of seeing what is out there. I am more disappointed than not but I trusted that Martyn Pig by Kevin Brooks would be one of my better experiences because I have confidence in the publishing house that distributed his book in the US.

As usual with young adult books, I breezed through it and grew increasingly frustrated with two things. One, I found it highly coincidental bordering on the ridiculous. Two, I found it all unbelievably predictable. And that should be where this book review would end, with my complaining about the quality of young adult literature and how writing a novel that is both too convenient and predictable is insulting to young adult readers.

It would except after I closed the book and thought about it I realized that it probably wouldn't be predictable to a young adult reader. Brooks very cleverly (and obviously not overtly) draws on a literary tradition that is most often seen in movies. What's more, he does so to good effect. That I have been exposed to this tradition explains how I would feel frustrated with the plot's precitability but someone who has not been exposed would likely find the plot twists pleasantly surprising. To say more would give too much away. But like a wine that surprises with an aromatic aftertaste, Martyn Pig definitely sneaked up on me and a couple of days later I realized that this is really a very good book and not the least bit insulting to a young adult reader.

Unless, of course, that young adult reader likes the same movies I do. Then I would say they will find it as unsurprising as I did.

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