Reviews

Boy's Life, by Robert R. McCammon

moustoir's review against another edition

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adventurous challenging dark emotional mysterious sad slow-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? A mix
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? N/A

5.0

notasilkycat's review against another edition

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3.0

I surprised even myself with this rating because in the beginning this book charmed me that much I was thinking it would be one of the best book of the year for me. From very first page you can see this small town in Alabama as you are in there. It hurts to say but somewhere in the middle something is going wrong. Like there is way too many details and every single scene is that long that it’s almost unbearable, especially closer to the end. And though I had quite a lot pleasure reading this book somehow it left me just tired.

laceygage's review against another edition

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5.0

This book is a gift. It is imaginative and charming. I am glad to have read it.

donna_s's review against another edition

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adventurous emotional funny inspiring lighthearted mysterious sad medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Character
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? No

5.0

hwalk91's review

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adventurous emotional funny hopeful mysterious medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? A mix
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? No

5.0

pacardullo's review against another edition

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5.0

Quite magical, in more ways than one.

teepee3po's review against another edition

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5.0

I think you should all read this, especially if you like Ray Bradbury and murder mysteries.

bookwyrmsam's review

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adventurous challenging dark emotional funny mysterious reflective medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? A mix
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? It's complicated
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

4.75

Another wonderful book recommended by my dad!  

This book is the best kind of coming of age story!  It follows a boy named Cory who wants to be a writer after he and his father witness a car with a murder victim inside sink into the local lake.  There is a murder mystery.  There are many adventures, in fact the chapters felt somewhat episodic to me in a good way! There is historical and social commentary.  These characters all feel very real and though I grew up in the early 2000's, not the 1960's, the spirit of childhood and friendship between Cory, Davy Ray, Johnny, and Ben was still very nostalgic and relatable.  The way this book dealt with themes about what it means to grow up, find your voice, become independent, deal with grief, etc. really worked for me.  I will say I at times wished that the exploration of social issues of the time period was a bit deeper, but the book does address that at the beginning Cory was too young and naive to understand what was going on in the world, and I think as he ages and the book nears it's end the exploration of these themes and ideas grows and becomes more nuanced.

I would give general content warnings for this book due to the murder mystery part of the premise and the 1960's Alabama setting including: murder, alcoholism, physical abuse, death, nazis, racial slurs, depictions of anti-black and anti-indigenous racism, and references to historical events such as the 16th Street Baptist Church Bombing.  

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imajica36's review against another edition

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adventurous emotional hopeful tense medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Character
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes

4.0

mccauleyauthor's review against another edition

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3.0

This was a tough rating for me. It took me nearly three months to get through this book. I can't recall the last time it took me more than a few days to get through a book. I considered DNF'ing a few times, but I would find myself randomly thinking of Cory Mackenson and Zephyr, and what the boy and his town had in store next. For that reason, I can understand why so many love this book.

The world-building here is incredible. If Zephyr were a real place, and you happened upon it one day by mistake, you'd know instantly where you were...that's how vivid the town and its people are. The end of the novel had a powerfully nostalgic effect on me; nostalgia for a place I'd only just finished reading about. But the same attention to detail that made the world of this book feel so familiar and lived-in, also made getting through it such a chore.

Yes, the tediousness of Boy's Life, more than anything else, is what truly stands out to me. I read the book about two chapters at a time. The main hook, the murder mystery, captured my attention right away, but the book itself isn't really about the murder at all. In fact, it's not really about anything. It's made up of multiple vignette's, told in retrospect from the 12-year-old protagonist's POV (though at times McCammon lazily explains away why Cory is aware of events for which he wasn't present), with the murder mystery loosely tying everything together. There were far too many bizarre or fantastic events occurring in this town for my taste, and those elements constantly took me out. Most of the events in this book, frankly, were unnecessary. You could remove full chapters of this book, full characters, full settings, with little-to-no effect on the overall story. It's overstuffed and overlong, plain and simple.

Despite having struggled to get through the novel, I went with a 3/5, because I can't say I didn't like it. In fact, I would love to see some sort of film or television adaptation of this book, as it would be fun to see some of these events and characters brought to life on the screen. However, I have no desire to revisit the world of the book as it stands on the page.