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The Patterns of Paper Monsters ~ Emma Rathbone

December 14, 2010


Genre: Adult Fiction
Publisher: Reagan Arthur / Back Bay Books
224 pages
ISBN: 9780316077507
Source: Bookstore

Seventeen-year-old Jacob Higgins is bored. He’s bored with good reason, of course. He’s been locked up in a Virginia juvenile detention center for the past three months. He was thrown in for, what should have been a simple armed robbery that went a little bit askew.

Over 200 pages, Jake winds through the antiseptic, over lit hallways  he shares with his fellow detainees (psychos, for the most part) and staff members (idiots, all of them). He mopes about, giving a sardonic, yet eloquent tour of the place, occasionally sidestepping to discuss his “home” (containing his constantly battered mother and his refrigerator of a stepfather, Steve).

This is, far and away, one of my favorite books from this past year of reading. There isn’t one, specific thing I can point out, indicating why I loved it so much but I think, as a package, it works.

Jake is lovable, even at his most cynical. There is also more emphasis on the clarity of inner monologue than creating some sense of teen angst, which could easily have been a down fall. There are hard parts, dealing with domestic violence, but Rathbone approaches them through Jake’s eyes in a refreshing, albeit, difficult way.

I know that writers either have what it takes to make their stories work or they don’t. I know that no amount of time will improve something that simply isn’t there. Still, I just can’t believe that this is Rathbone’s first novel. It simply stellar. Period.

Publisher’s Weekly compared the book to Kesey’s One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest and that cinematic darling, Napoleon Dynamite but I have to differ. I think it stands alone. I highly recommend the story to almost anyone. Trust me; it’s just that good.

5 Comments leave one →
  1. December 15, 2010 2:57 pm

    I’m excited to see this is so good! Since you enjoyed it so much, you should sign up for the Reagan Arthur Books Challenge – it’s perpetual, so you can’t fail!

  2. December 15, 2010 4:20 pm

    Well, you’ve certainly sold me on this one!

  3. December 16, 2010 12:19 pm

    I am also glad to see that this one is so good! It sounds like a unique story and one that I would really enjoy. Thanks for the awesome and enthusiastic review. I will be looking for this book!

  4. January 1, 2011 9:14 pm

    I just wanted to let you know that I added this review to the Reagan Arthur Books Challenge blog.

    • January 2, 2011 1:28 pm

      Thanks! I just finished my second (Wolves of Andover) by the imprint and I enjoyed it. Not as much as Paper Monsters but then again they’re VERY different!

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