Thankfully I don’t have to be the guy that gives a rotten review to a book about two kids with cancer. I was teetering, but then the author pushed me over to the mostly happy-happy side.
Everything started amazing; I relate well with macabre gallows humor. When you’ve knocked on death’s door and have seen the priest standing over your hospital bed, a bit of morbid humor gets you through.
Then there was the trip. They had to go somewhere, right? They couldn’t just sit in the basement and play video games for the whole book, could they? That whole trip seemed out of place and unrealistic to me—until I read the author’s acknowledgement to the Dutch Literature Foundation, thanking them for the two month stay in Amsterdam. Ahhh.
Speaking of unrealistic, I have trouble believing a 17-year-old video-game-playing athlete would have nearly the same vocabulary as a 16-year-old study-at-home, read-all-the-time, collegiate student. I get it; he’s smarter than the average hunk, but some of the words he came up with were the author’s indulgence.
And one more nitpick: I don’t believe a flight attendant would pour a 16-year-old a drink, even as a Cancer Perk on a return flight from Amsterdam.
As for the author: he’s smart. You can tell he is well read. And not only that, but he is well-versed in today’s internet terms (he has over a million Twitter followers and a popular YouTube channel). This all plays out in very believable verse (aside from the notes above). The narrative is catchy and modern, which helps pull the reader into the story—making you feel like this is taking place today.
I was also impressed in the author’s research, not only around cancer, but in blindness and limb loss.
Overall, the story was a fantastic read: emotional; thoughtful. It would have been an easy five stars if not for the critiques above.