Friday, October 21, 2005

Project X by Jim Shepherd 

Eh. I couldn't sleep last night, so I read this. It's a young adult novel about two boys, teased and beat up at school, who plan a Columbine-style revenge. The narrator was very well-written, a combination of obnoxious and likeable, with a great relationship with his kid brother. The leading character, who is of course the ring leader, is less defined. What really stuck in my mind, though, was that the author had no idea what he was talking about when it came to guns. I should have expected that. But I was willing to go with it, since it was first person narration, maybe the narrator didn't know anything about guns. But the narrator apparently knew enough to identify a Kalashnikov on sight, something I'd be hard-pressed to do (there are lots of imitators), but calls the next guns just "a carbine" and "a nine-millemeter," aparently unaware that the carbine could have been a Kalashnikov or that 9mm doesn't tell me to visualize a rifle or a handgun. There's a scene that I thought was deliberate, in which the boys look at the "clips" (arg. The word the author wanted was "magazine") and wonder how many "bullets" (arg. "Rounds" or "cartridges") each holds. Neither knows. Neither knows how to release the magazine from the rifle. I infer that neither knows then how to load them. I expect this will be significant.

It isn't. Somehow the leading character learns how to load both long guns properly, learns how all the safeties work, and of course there's the dramatic ending.

At the end, I felt cheap. I felt the characters weren't real. The guns weren't real. Nothing was real. And I'd lost 2 hours of sleeplessness that I could have used learning Spanish.

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