Friday, May 8, 2009

Humor can save an unsympathetic protag!

Okay I liked the book so much I just finished it.

Oh dude, David Yoo is a funny, funny guy. I could not stop giggling out loud as I read this book. The humor is silly, self-deprecating and positively ludicrous at points, but so convincing I couldn't stop grinning the whole way through. And luckily, because Nick Park (the protagonist), the young, girl-obsessed, Korean-American kid in this book, is a total asshole. I kid you not. From the beginning of the book (where he's in 3rd grade) to the end (when he's graduating from high school), he's a self-loathing, deluded, selfish asshole who lies and pushes the envelope so much that you almost can't stand him and almost lose sympathy for him. But Yoo's wit is Nick's, and therefore the book's, saving grace. So even though you kinda think he's an ass for pretending he's a kung-fu fighter, he's funny about it, so, okay fine.

And anyway, his wild delusions are all part of him finding himself and coming to terms with his Korean-Americanness. I liked how fresh this book was as one to contend with the Asian-American dialogue. It was a fresh breakaway from the many eye-rolling Asian-American texts I've read in the past. So good for David Yoo.

Towards the end, I did feel like it was a little too neatly wrapped up, this sudden "realization" - though I suppose to be able to pull it off with any finesse is a tall order, since, really, do we ever just figure things out? And for a YA readership maybe it's important to bang the moral over the head? I'm not sure. This was one of the weak spots for me, where I could see the new-ness of Yoo's first novel.

I could say stuff about race and self-loathing and stuff here - and I'll admit that it was an interesting perspective to see, one where I literally wanted to shake Nick really hard - but I'm going to save it because I plan to write a paper on it in about a week. And I need to percolate. And it's 5 am. But all I can say is that this is a good read, especially for Asian-Americans, but I suspect would be appealing to non-Asian-Americans, especially boys who have a good sense of humor and love girls.

Great read, truly entertaining. I can't wait to read his new book that just came out.

1 drops:

Ello said...

I am so going to get this book!!! Thanks for blogging about it!!!

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