2009: #97 – Huge (James W. Fuerst)

huge Book #97 was Huge by James W. Fuerst.  The back of the book reads:

Life hasn’t been easy for Eugene “Huge” Smalls.

Sure, his IQ is off the charts, but that doesn’t help much when you’re growing up in the 1980s in a dreary New Jersey town where your bad reputation precedes you, the public school system’s written you off as a lost cause, and even your own family seems out to get you.

But it’s not all bad. Raymond Chandler and Dashell Hammett have taught Huge everything he needs to know about being a hard-boiled detective . . . and he’s just been hired to solve his first case.

What he doesn’t realize is that his search for the truth will change everything for him.

First of all, I feel like this novel is a bit mis-characterized.  It didn’t feel like a YA novel to me (and I do read YA).  Instead, it felt like a coming-of-age story with a 12 year old protagonist that is written for adults.  Which is perfectly fine! Just not what I expected.

The tone of the novel was a *little* bit overdone.  Huge (Eugene) is very brash, very angry, and not quite as tough or mature as he thinks he is.  It took me a while to convince myself that his speech/actions/thoughts/etc were realistic, but since I am neither an extra-intelligent 12 year old boy, nor have I spoken with one in a few years, they’re probably not that far off.

Once you get past all that, what you have is a story about a kid who is lonely.  His sister won’t hang out with him anymore, his grandmother is becoming senile, his mom works all the time, and the few kids who used to be his friends are no longer allowed to associate with him, since he has a bit of an anger management problem.  His solace is found in his stuffed frog, Thrash (a pretty blatant symbolic manifestation of his suppressed rage) and in the classic noir detective novels that his grandmother thrust upon him during his 3 month suspension. Thanks to those novels, he is prone to finding mysteries in the mundane and making more out of situations than what is really there.  In the end, this story is about Huge finding his place, and realizing that life doesn’t have to be him against the world.

He really did grow on me, and one particular passage struck me as a perfect illustration of Huge.

"If I ever got out of this, I’d start a new, top-secret journal, which I’d keep in a booby-trapped safe, and I’d compile my own list of pointers or rules that other detectives never told you.  And my first rule would be: If you were going out to the woods in homemade ninja shorts after a day of hard rain, you *always* had to wear underwear, just in case you fell on your butt, because having to deal with swamp ass for the rest of the night totally sucked.  That was a solid first principle — Keep your ass dry — and I wish I’d thought of it earlier because it didn’t do me a damn bit of good now."

So if you like coming of age stories about brash, over-the-top, slightly damaged boys, don’t be afraid to pick up this book.  And keep your ass dry.

Page count: 304 | Approximate word count: 91,200

2008: The Book of Three (Lloyd Alexander)
2007: Three Act Tragedy (Agatha Christie)
2006: The Kill Artist (Daniel Silva)

Used in these Challenges: 100+ Reading Challenge 2009; 2009 ARC Reading Challenge;

3 thoughts on “2009: #97 – Huge (James W. Fuerst)

  • September 8, 2009 at 8:44 pm
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    I do enjoy a good coming of age story! I always wear underwear, so that wouldn’t be a problem for me.
    .-= Kathy´s last blog ..Review: Mix Shake Stir =-.

    Reply
  • September 11, 2009 at 2:43 pm
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    Dear participant of the genre challenge,

    I am happy to announce that the genre challenge blog is finally up and running! Due to some real life problems, this has taken longer than planned, but now that it’s finished, I invite you over to post your reviews there. It’s at http://genrechallenge.blogspot.com/

    The process is really simple, just post the link to your review in the comments of the appropriate post. An example: if you reviewed a fantasy book for the genre challenge, post the review in the comments of the Fantasy Fiction Reviews 2008-2009 post.

    Because of the transfer from my general book blog to the genre challenge blog, some review links might have become lost, so please check to see if all of your reviews have been linked. If not, please repost the links I missed. According to my information, you have posted links for the following genres: detective, thriller, action/adventure, fantasy, realistic, historical, mystery, horror, romance, science fiction. Which means you are missing these genres: crime, western.

    Just to remind you, to be eligible for the prize drawing, all of your reviews must be posted before 1 November 2009. However, since you made me such a great graphic for the challenge, you do have one shot at the prize. Of course, you’ll get a double chance if you finish the challenge on time.

    Thanks for joining this challenge!

    Happy reading,

    Samantha
    .-= Samantha´s last blog ..Prizes and People Eligible For Them =-.

    Reply

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