Ostrich by Matt Greene
|Ostrich by Matt Greene
|Category: General Fiction
|Reviewer: Iain Wear
|Summary: Reading Ostrich is an experience that your emotions will thank you for. It has sad, sweet and funny moments all at once and an ending that takes the breath away. It's close to being the perfect book for adults and younger readers alike.
|Date: September 2013
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time by Mark Haddon deserves every piece of praise it received, as a children's novel with plenty to interest older readers and a wonderful way of portraying Asperger's Syndrome through its narrator, Christopher Boone. Ostrich by Matt Greene follows quite similar lines, although this time the narrator, Alex, has a brain tumour.
Life is confusing enough when you're nearly thirteen and making your way in a large world. For Alex, it's even more so, as he has fits and blank periods thanks to his illness. He's also worried about his hamster, which seems to be in a fugue state and the state of his parents' marriage. He's trying to figure out his feelings for Chloe Gower and wondering why his mother hasn't laughed since the introduction of the Single European Currency. He also wishes that he could live in France, as life seems so much simpler in French.
I loved Ostrich. It's sweet and sad and funny, mostly all at the same time. Alex is quite smart and passes on most of his wisdom, much of which is how to get better marks in Composition and the ways of telling if your parents are about to separate, most of which he gets from Chloe. He's also pretty good at Maths and can create algebraic equations from the lines on his mother's face.
I love the way the book is written. Alex has a twelve year old's attention span, which means the story jumps around all over the place. There is a through line, but the book is like a tree with branches all over the place. Alex narrates like a squirrel, making leaps from branch to branch and investigating where many of them lead. Much like a squirrel will often find the most interesting things right at the end of a branch, so following Alex's trains of thought right to the end often proves to be the most rewarding.
The writing style is quite interesting, too. There are a lot of sections in brackets where Alex wanders off in his random directions, often in compound sets of brackets. Frequently, you reach the end of a paragraph and the closure of the brackets makes it look like a man with several chins smiling. Normally, this kind of thing would annoy me, but more often than not, when I reached that stage of a paragraph, I had turned into a man with several chins smiling, so it seemed entirely appropriate.
Alex uses plenty of words he doesn't quite understand or can't spell, which only adds to the brilliance of the novel. My favourite was his frequent use of the word inflatio instead of fellatio, which made me giggle like the twelve year old I haven't been for years. This possibly says more about the reader than it does about the book, but this is far from the only moment where the book had me chuckling to myself thanks to the way Alex uses his words, whether he's using them correctly or not.
After all this laughter, the unexpectedly emotional ending took me a little by surprise. A sudden change in style set me back a little, but the pay off was beautiful. The story could have gone in all kinds of directions, but the chosen one set the whole novel off perfectly.
I'm not sure I can say that Ostrich is better than The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time by Mark Haddon, as it's a different style of book, not as serious, but equally wonderfully written. It's certainly comparable, as this is a book that can be enjoyed by younger readers and adults alike. There may be a little too much bad language for really young readers, but it's never gratuitous and wouldn't seem so to any twelve year old. But this is the only concern I could possibly have with a book as wonderfully expressed and entertaining as this is.
For another incredible read for Teens, they don't come better than the aforementioned The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time by Mark Haddon
You can read more book reviews or buy Ostrich by Matt Greene at Amazon.co.uk Amazon currently charges £2.99 for standard delivery for orders under £20, over which delivery is free.
You can read more book reviews or buy Ostrich by Matt Greene at Amazon.com.
Ostrich by Matt Greene is in the Top Ten General Fiction Books of 2013.
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