A schizophrenic English youth is destined for tragedy.
Greg is a dysfunctional, shy, white teen with a severe lisp and a dark, muddled past. In an effort to make a connection, his English teacher asks him to write everything down in a journal. Rice's debut novel is made up of that journal's pages interspersed with police reports and interviews between officers and Greg's acquaintances. As Greg pines for a girl he barely knows and rants about Them, spiderlike creatures that only he can see, readers will quickly realize that Greg is schizophrenic and in dire need of help. Through Greg, the author shines a light on the many ways society fails those with mental illness, and readers are held captive in Greg's psyche hoping for someone, anyone to notice that this boy needs a second look. The interspersed police reports provide readers with their only glimpse of the world outside of Greg's point of view, and the tragic tone these interviews take does little to give readers hope. These interviews muck up the book's pacing a bit. Greg's story is quickly revealed to end in violent tragedy, and after 200 or so pages of Greg's brooding, many readers will be impatient. Supporting characters are poorly drawn, most given just one or two defining characteristics, and the police interviews don't flesh them out.
A flawed novel examining a worthy subject. (Fiction. 14-18)