Ok, so I'm not brilliant. Deal.
Anyway, aside from being a total bummer at parts (obviously), this book was absolutely stunning. The kids in the book-- all high-schoolers at an Alabama boarding school-- are foul-mouthed, literary and hilarious, a combination that is completely unique in my experience. The main character, a skinny, self-conscious teen who they call "Pudge," is obsessed with people's last words. It's a symbolic, but very believable motif that is cunningly threaded throughout the book. It is about youth, books, death, survival, and some well-organized pranks.
One man's last words--Simon Bolivar--are particularly highlighted. "Damn it," he said, "How will I ever get out of this labyrinth?" The book asks, what is the labyrinth? Is it life? Death? Suffering? It is a mammoth of a book, and the fact that it was written for teens is a testament to the growing respect children's literature is receiving from the world.
Here is a tidbit, from the end of the book, for your reading pleasure. It is my most favorite part. Enjoy.
When adults say, "Teenagers think they are invincible" with that sly, stupid smile on their faces, they don't know how right they are. We need never be hopeless, because we can never be irreparably broken. We think that we are invincible because we are. We cannot be born, and we cannot die. Like all energy, we can only change shapes and sizes and manifestations. They forget that when they get old. They get scared of losing and failing. But that part of us greater than the sum of our parts cannot begin and cannot end, and so it cannot fail.Tastiness: Food for thought.
Special Sauce: Heady, philosophical questions right next to teenage debauchery.
Recommend? It's a modern classic.