Boys of Blur by N.D. Wilson
Review by Catherine Dunlap
Oh, I thought, N.D. Wilson has a new book out. Looks like he’s taken a break from whatever fantastic, slightly disturbing genre he’s been writing in and has composed a story following the adventures of a couple of country boys. Fun. So, one night when I didn’t quite feel like Twain and was a little too distractible for starting another Dickens, I picked up this fun little book.
Ha. Ha. Ha.
This book scared the heebejeebies out of me. This was a strange sensation, because I neither knew precisely what heebejeebies are, nor had I known that I had them in the first place, but they are definitely gone. N.D. Wilson did it again—he did it once with 100 Cupboards, but I fell for it hook, line and sinker this time too. Let me warn you: DO NOT read this book at bedtime. DO NOT read this book if you do not have time to finish the whole thing in one sitting. DO NOT read this book if you are prone to nightmares about swamps. I knew the minute that black shape appeared in the cemetery that I was not going to sleep that night. Again. But enough about me. If I can’t take the fright, I shouldn’t read the Wilson. It’s that simple. What about the book?
Well, throw together swampy Florida, football, a small town, Beowulf, a child from said small town who has actually read Beowulf, and a newcomer and his broken family, who to my knowledge have not read Beowulf, and you may get a taste of what this book is like. Oh, there are a few stinky zombies too.
The book deserves its title—it moves fast. Really fast. And yet the descriptions are vivid and, in that twisted, Wilson-y way, beautiful. My throat started itching in his description of the smoke in the fields. In a few parts I found myself having to reread passages to be able to visualize what was going on more clearly. Part of that is intentional, I think—Charlie can’t see what’s going on precisely in the mist, and Wilson gets the sensation across through this literary fuzziness. The fogginess is part of the atmosphere.
I was a bit surprised, as I was with 100 Cupboards, to see the age recommendation for this book. Grades 3-6? I’m not sure I could have handled this when I was nine. I would have survived, I think, but I definitely would not have been fond of being left alone in the dark. Parents know what their kids can handle, I suppose, but this is a very frightening book. Read at your own risk.
I thought about inserting some good quotes here, but there are way too many and I am way too lazy to do it justice. Let me just say that Cotton’s opinion on the Brontës is the best one from a literary expert that I’ve heard yet.
In conclusion, I find I can say little else about this book, not because there isn’t anything to say, but because I’m finding it difficult to avoid spoilers and I’m still wondering how Wilson managed to cram that many well-written characters and places and adventures and football and LIFE into 200 pages, make it all smell like swamp, and still make me like it.
So go read it.
Boys of Blur at Amazon
(Bonus: I have a theory about a possible connection to the Ashtown Burials series and this book–if you subscribe to the Muse I’ll tell you about it next time I see you!)