“It was a stupid, insane, suicidal idea. Which makes it quite hard to explain why I decided to help. I guess it boils down to this: Charlie was my best friend. I missed him. And I couldn’t think of anything better to do. Really stupid reasons which were never going to impress the police, the headmistress or my parents.
Looking back, I reckon this was the moment when my whole life started to go pear-shaped.“
boom! is an updated version of a book called Gridzbi Spudvetch! that author Mark Haddon had published back in the early 90’s. It didn’t sell well, according to the author’s note at the beginning of this book, but there had been interest in republishing it with a more mainstream title for a number of years. Mark Haddon didn’t think it was a viable venture–until a letter from a grade school teacher and her class convinced the author to do exactly that.
Back story done, I could really see the book as something little kids would enjoy. It’s a very fast read, with me clocking around two hours to finish the whole thing, so a teacher could probably read the thing over the course of a week to his or her students.
I’m a bit miffed about the abrupt end of the novel, but again, I could see where children would enjoy this. It gives them the freedom to imagine what happens next. It could even be a fun homework to do over a weekend, to present to the class what they think would happen next.
But as a plain reader, I have to admit at being incredulous at the abrupt ending. I was not prepared for that, as the book is pretty much detailed in a lot of things. The characterization of the main players, and even some of the supporting players, were outstanding; and the description of the places, and the journey, was impressive as well.
And as I approached the last chapters of the book, I didn’t feel as if it was ending. I actually thought it was going to start another adventure, although at a smaller scale. But it never does.
So that’s my main gripe about the book, I guess. Coming from The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, and A Spot of Bother, my expectations for boom! was a bit elevated–and while it was met for the most part, the ending really left me wanting.
I think this book would go well with grade school kids, or as a reading and writing exercise for a high school class. As for regular readers, I think you’d either love how Mark Haddon ends it, or you’d be frustrated, like me, at how it ends.