Synopsis: Once again blending multiple story strands that transcend time and place, Grasshopper Jungle author Andrew Smith tells the story of 15-year-old Ariel, a refugee from the Middle East who is the sole survivor of an attack on his small village. Now living with an adoptive family in Sunday, West Virginia, Ariel’s story of his summer at a boys’ camp for tech detox is juxtaposed against those of a schizophrenic bomber and the diaries of a failed arctic expedition from the late nineteenth century. Oh, and there’s also a depressed bionic reincarnated crow.
Huge thank you to Penguin Canada for this ARC!
I have a weird relationship with Andrew Smith. I struggled withGrasshopper Jungle, yet I flew through 100 Sideways Miles. Andrew Smith’s writing feels so unique and different in every book he writes, and the The Alex Crow is no exception in this.
The Alex Crow is a disturbing novel throughout. There are foreboding feelings, discomfort, and the book is so atmospheric. There’s three distinctive stories in this novel yet they way in which they start to blur together, mess with the reader’s mind — I have to give Smith credit, I found this book messed with me a few times. I had to reread sections just to make sure I understood what was happening, why it was happening. The book wants play with your conceptions of reality, and it does! It completely messes with you!
Furthermore, Smith has a way with descriptions, in that he has this power to make things sound so much more gross than it might actually be. I was reading this book while eating my lunch a lot of the time, and it makes your tummy curl. I don’t recommend that. There’s a lot of complex relationships in this this novel as well, especially between Ariel and Max. Ariel’s narration in some sections was so heartbreaking, especially whenever he goes into detail comparing his life as a refuge to being given a normal life by his adoptive family.
The Alex Crow is just weird, and when I finished it, I felt I still didn’t entirely know what had happened, even after the big reveal related to Ariel. The book will make you feel lost, confused, and yet once you begin to put the pieces together, there’s something really wonderful with this book. If you are not a fan of Grasshopper Jungle‘s style, this book may not appeal to you as much. I admit that even though I wasn’t huge onGrasshopper Jungle, I felt like The Alex Crow did a better job of drawing me in and then telling me, “By the way, find your own way through the story.” The Alex Crow is by no means an easy read, but it’s definitely rewarding in its challenge.