My rating: 2 of 5 stars
Hardcover, 368 pages
Published October 22nd 2013 by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Available on: Hardcover, Paperback, Barnes & Noble
Reality Boy by AS King was the last book I read on 2013. I’d heard a lot of good buzz on this book. After reading this, I have different opinions from those who have praised this story. Honestly for me it’s a 2 star book, a.k.a. it’s OK, nothing more.
Reality Boy is the story of Gerald, a boy whose life got changed on camera at a young age; an experience that left an indelible mark on all the viewers by his you could say “trademarked pooping behavior” in a nanny show. We meet Gerald years after his Reality Boy days, and see how he still hasn’t learned how to deal with the effects of the reality show on him and his strange and deranged family.
I’d forgotten about punching walls. It was so episode one. I’d become the Crapper since then. Punching walls was for pussies.
The story looked promising. It started with a fast pace: Boy with SERIOUS mental problems likes girl. You feel sorry for the boy and hope he solves his woes by the end. Boy meets girl. Boy gets girl. And then I felt stuck. I kept reading because if you’ve read my other reviews you know I’m not a DNF reader. I don’t like to have unfinished business and I finish books even if they are torture. I kept reading, chapter after chapter with a constant question in my mind: “When is something going to happen in this story?”
The other thing that made it difficult for me to fully enjoy the book was that I couldn’t relate to Gerald. I don’t know if anyone else did but I just couldn’t relate to a boy who was so mentally unstable that he constantly evaded reality by talking to cartoon characters. *SPOILER* I mean Snow White and her little animated animals? Really? *END SPOILER*
Also, Gerald’s constant reminder of his reality boy nickname “The Crapper” got to be a little boring and repetitive. I suppose the author was trying to make a point of how Gerald was still haunted by that, but I think you can make your point without having to repeat it over and over again.
Gerald’s absolutely dysfunctional family was also hard to relate to. His parents are so messed up that you constantly feel you want to punch them. Gerald’s sisters: the nympho-psycho/sociopath and the runaway, you also want to punch some sense out of them. These people are so confused, sick, disturbed, abnormal and egocentric that you can’t feel sorry for them. At least I couldn’t feel any pity, they infuriated me.
You know the saying, “there’s a lid for every pot”? The love story between Gerald and Hannah is not a rosy and peachy one. It was quirky and teenage-ish. Hannah is no “normal” girl but somehow they complement each other.
You’re a mystery, Gerald. I have no idea what you’re thinking most of the time and I can’t tell when you’re here and when you’re not here.”
“I’m here,” I say. “I’m driving the car.”
“But the mystery part of it. I like that,” she says. “Like-I’m the junk man’s daughter and everybody knows that and it makes me easily recognizable. People see me and they think junk. They don’t have to talk to me unless they crashed their car and they need a passenger’s –side door for a 2001 Honda or something, you know?”
I laugh through my nose a little, because she’s overlooking that I’m Gerald the crapper. People see me and they think crap.
The ending was OK. The book didn’t end with a flare. Nope, no victorious fireworks in the end. Even though it ends how you somehow expect it to end for Gerald, I think it was a little too rushed and needed more drama for my taste.
But it was not all bad. The flashbacks about the reality show where the parts of the book I enjoyed, in the sense that they made this book an eye-opener. I mean, we all know that reality shows are the least realistic shows on TV. I know they are scripted and edited to the max, but I must confess I didn’t know how they could manage to work with kids and make their appearances unreal. It didn’t occur to me how they make kids repeat dialogues and actions to get enough material for the editing room. Gerald’s pooping behavior was a gigantic cry plead for help which the producers managed to edit to make it look ridiculously entertaining. Really unreal!
Gerald is a mix of emotions. I know I’ve said I couldn’t relate to him but thankfully he had his moments and finally by the end he started making some sense.
What occurs to me at this second is this: There is a huge world out there. I only know my dumb family and my dumb house and my dumb school and my dumb job. But there is a huge world out there…and most of it is underwater.
Yes Gerald, there is a huge world out there. You only have to come out of your shell, stop worrying so much about you and only you, open your eyes and dive into the big world that’s waiting for you to live in it and try to conquer it. You can do it.
School’s important at the moment.
Unsexiest statement ever.
🙂 Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for the “stay in school” deal…but I get how there are some moments in life where “nerdiness” is a turn off! 🙂
She looks at me as we walk under a streetlight. “You’re really handsome, you know that?”
I don’t know what to say. I don’t think anyone uses the word handsome anymore. I feel humbled by it. Because it’s old and grandmothers say it, it seems classy and real and I feel…handsome. It makes me smile. And it makes me really want to kiss Hannah, but I don’t.
Yes, in this day and age where everyone and everything gets labeled as sexy, handsome is an oasis in our language, a word we should use more often. Yes, it’s classy and real. 🙂
Only you can allow yourself to be angry.
Need I say more?
Reality Boy is marketed as a YA book (Juvenile Fiction). There is even a discussion guide you can download at A.S. King’s website. I wouldn’t recommend this book for kids in their early teens as it deals with sex addiction, violence, physical and psychological abuse, psychological pathologies, mental disabilities, bullying, anger management and many more adult themes. It should have a parental guidance warning. It is NOT a light teen read. It is not a feel good story. It is a serious social critique that makes you feel sorry for the under aged stars in reality shows of our times. Hope is the last thing someone can lose. Let us hope we don’t get to read many biographical books in the future with real life stories similar to Gerald’s.