Jolted by Arthur Slade
Finished: Aug. 31, 2008
First Published: Aug. 11, 2008
Genre: YA, mystical realism
Reason for Reading: Received a review copy from Harper Collins Canada. Canadian Challenge.
Newton Starker knew that he would likely die from a lightning strike.
Comments: For generations the Starker family members have been killed by lightning strikes. As a matter of family pride the family also names the children born to the female members with the last name "Starker". Newton Starker's mother has recently succumbed to her fate and upon her death Newton decides he would like to move away from his dad and the specially built concrete dome they live in to go away to a special boarding school, the "Jerry Potts Academy of Higher Learning and Survival", in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan. The schools main focus is teaching survival skills even to the extreme.
Newton lives his life by a set of rules his mother invented for him and the list is revealed throughout the book. There are two Starkers left alive: Newton, and his great grandmother Starker, a sour puss of an old lady living in an old folks home. Newton's mother visited her regularly and now Newton continues after his mother's death. He tries to find out the cause for her longevity but when she reveals her secret he's not sure he could possibly follow suit.
The book is populated with interesting characters. Newton himself is a determined young man living against the odds, his best friend is a wanna be fantasy writer whose first published book is one long sentence. His makes a rival of a girl and they are always trying to one up each other. The teachers are unique characters themselves, as is the school proper.
A very fun and interesting take on the boarding school story. Not really fantasy, but certainly not realism, this is a tough book to categorize to a genre but those who enjoy a strange tale will enjoy this. I find myself wanting to dare to compare with the now infamous Harry Potter books but while the story is nothing like them I do think this will appeal to those who enjoyed the boarding school and eccentric teachers side of those books. While the book does have a definite ending, I see an opening for a sequel and would love to meet up with these characters again.