An odd portrayal of a 14-year-old boy coming to terms with obsessive-compulsive disorder and loneliness.
Rene Fowler is obsessed with the number 13, washes his hands routinely and secretly dons a Batman cape. He’s desperate for friendship, which he finds in the guise of a smooth-talking, Bob Dylan–esque cool kid named Gio. Somehow a genuine friendship develops, and the two devise a half-baked scheme to escape Rene’s crazy, gambling-addicted dad by taking a bus to New York City. Blackstone’s debut is strange in every way—from the hyperbolic horror-movie marketing on the cover to the schizoid universe that is Rene’s mind and the language that Blackstone uses to characterize him. Readers will cringe in confused discomfort when Rene breaks into his school wearing a superhero costume and even more when he develops a peculiar relationship with his seemingly troubled English teacher. Many of his thoughts are so far out that readers will be wondering if he’s suffering from a more serious ailment than OCD, such as Asperger syndrome. Interestingly enough, Gio is the only character that teen readers will connect with in the novel. His easygoing, go-with-the-flow, straightforward disposition and voice are the sole linear elements that drive the plot forward.
A bizarre first effort that will engage few readers, if any. (Fiction. 12 & up)