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by Jason Cockcroft

Pub Date: Feb. 1st, 2009
ISBN: 978-0-06-125554-0
Publisher: Katherine Tegen/HarperCollins

Nathan’s life changes when his mother is hit by a bus and dies. He goes to live with his estranged—and strange—father, a soap salesman who is not quite on track with the rest of the world and, in fact, literally disappears with a bang, leaving a man-shaped hole in the wall of the bathroom. Assisted by a mysterious Beefeater, Nathan chases his father through the “orange skin” of time to the moment of his mother’s death—more than once. Cockcroft’s debut provides readers with a pretzeled plot of alternate futures (complicated more by arbitrary narrative shifts than by actual shifts in time), well tempered with a sense of the ludicrous. Sometimes this tone misfires—the Beefeater is prone to pronouncements that sound quirkily wise but actually make no sense (“Have you ever tried juicing an orange in its skin? It’s not easy”). But though the voice and the plot are not so refined as those of Pratchett or Wynne Jones, the spirit is the same, and just holds everything in place. Sadly, many Briticisms have been Americanized for publication on these shores. (Fantasy. 9-13)