The Boy & Girl Who Broke The World by Amy Reed (book review).

December 17, 2019 | By | 1 Reply More

Where most books tend to establish the rules of their universe pretty early on, ‘The Boy And Girl Who Broke The World’ leaves you questioning right up until the end. You know it’s not quite our world as America is ruled by someone called The King, but do unicorns and dragons actually exist in this world?

Because the book’s written from first-person, you’re never quite sure how much of what you read is real, in the protagonist’s head or just part of the author’s turned-up-to-11 prose style. Either way, I found this aspect added a really interesting layer to the book because you’re continually left questioning whether something being described really happened, asking yourself wait, did another character actually see that happen?

But let’s go back a step. ‘The Boy And Girl Who Broke The World’ revolves around teenagers Billy Sloat and Lydia Lemon as they become friends, despite and because of their differences. They live in fictional American town Fog Harbor, a backwater that’s crippled by unemployment and is only famous because a rock star came from there and a fantasy series was set nearby.

This is a coming of age story revolving around events that force cracks in the armour of both Billy’s forced optimism and Lydia’s aggressive independence. Both protagonists are easy to like because they refuse to give in to the overwhelmingly bleak circumstances of their situation, using humour, sarcasm and imagination to fight back. They’re surrounded by a cast of strongly characterised reprobates, each of which is given more depth than you initially suspect, as they try to navigate an escalating series of events.

The prose is fast-flowing, characters have strong voices and the author paints evocative pictures of life in a forgotten American town. Each chapter alternates between Lydia and Billy, often giving an amusingly different perspective on the same scene. The stakes continuously increase and events become more complex, which along with a building sense of doom and characters you can invest in make this an easy book to binge read.

My only real criticism is that the author has a habit of laying on the teenage angst too heavily. For me, there were too many repetitive sections detailing how awful the protagonists are as friends, this is the worst day of their life, how no-one can ever love them and what losers they are, etc, etc. Because this is all from a first-person view, it began to feel like whining and I found myself skipping a few lines each time Lydia or Billy launched into another paragraph of self-hatred. Admittedly, I have the compassionate range of Mr. Spock so your mileage may vary.

I don’t want to give any spoilers so won’t say if the fantastical elements are revealed to be ‘real’, but I’m confident that you won’t predict the final act of the story. Indeed, despite the hints scattered throughout the book, I spent quite a while pondering whether the event felt out of place. Either way the book concludes with a satisfying ending.

I thoroughly recommend ‘The Boy And Girl Who Broke The World’ for both teen and adult audiences. It’s well-written, presents even minor characters sympathetically, is intriguing and makes you think. It also may or may not contain dragons and/or unicorns.

Stuart Maine

December 2019

(pub: Atom/Little Brown. 446 page small enlarged paperback. Price: £ 7.99 (UK). ISBN: 978-0-349-00340-5)

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Category: Books, Fantasy

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  1. Tina Pfeiffer says:

    Reading this is now and it’s very slow and depressing. If the authors litany of not-so-veiled political references, i.e. “The King”, didn’t clue you in to the place and time here then perhaps you skipped over more than just the angsty sections.

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