memoirs of an imaginary friend: book review

I have no memory of it unfortunately, but according to my mom I definitely had a clear cut imaginary friend when I was younger. There’s no way of knowing if he was a simple kind, the kind you’d see in Fosters for Imaginary Friends or maybe like the Family Circus. I am sure he was nothing like Budo in Matthew Dick‘s absolutely fascinating and captivating “memoirs of an imaginary friend” though.

If I had to guess at my imaginary friend I’d assume he was just as human as Budo though, probably taller than me and more athletic, someone to discuss cartoons with in the morning, because ya know… who wants to talk to themselves? Still I am sure he was nothing like Budo, but whose to know. There is a chance that Matthew Dicks has delved into something we’ll never be able to prove with this novel. Maybe they aren’t as imaginary as we think… maybe they just live in a different realm.

While Budo is the voice and perspective of “memoirs”, he is not the lead character , that would be Max, a very special boy, whose actual diagnosis is never completely disclosed. He shows signs of autism, and possibly Asperger’s. I am not fully aware of either disease. I have a friend who is a very low spectrum of the autistic bend and  my father used to work with special needs children, but my own real experience is minimal other than having an immense respect for any child or adult who doesn’t let it stop them achieving a regular life full of work, love, fun and friends.

We know Max doesn’t like to be touched, he doesn’t like people or at least most people, he is very stringent in his ways and he has trouble expressing emotions. When he faces something new or different he gets stuck, like an empty wall. I saw it in my mind sort of like Tommy staring at a pinball machine, the entire world shut out and focus almost seems non-existent and in Max’s case, it being actually completely non focus. He’s very smart when it comes to traditional learning, likes to read, playing with toys, military strategy, building things with LEGOs and of all things pop culture, Star Wars.

As Budo describes both his own life as an Imaginary friend who instead Imaginary as one would think and Max’s difficult life with his parents, teachers, school bullies and more the book grows and turns in very unexpected ways. We meet the teachers, fellow students, other imaginary friends and some of the local residents, all through Budo’s very interesting and eye opening viewpoint.

There are plot twists later into the book that take what was seeming like it a sweet and simple, but written with depth story about caring, love, understanding and growing up into a tense, suspenseful, adventure thriller. That may seem like a huge leap but in context it all comes together brilliantly and in the end you feel like you’ve truly walked away with a higher understanding of growing up as a whole. Dicks also doesn’t leave one hanging on certain conceptual threads, they aren’t clear cut final thesis into the reality (per se) of imagination, death, afterlife and more, but boy does he try and I commend him for it.

I must say I truly like the original ARC cover then the one used in the UK where the book is credited to Matthew Green or the final American cover. That is why it’s the image I chose for this review.

“memoirs of an imaginary friend” came out in the U.S. In August 2012, this review was based on a complimentary Advanced Reader’s Edition.

It’s All About Hair Transplants

Novel: PLUGGED

Author: Eoin Colfer

Publication Date: September 1, 2011 in the US (already out in the UK)

Best known for the crazy and wild antics of boy genius ARTEMIS FOWL, as well as what is concidered the sixth book in Douglas Adam’s Hitchhiker’s Trilogy, …AND ANOTHER THING, Eoin Colfer’s first tackle at crime noir drama is painstakingly brutal, humorous and nail biting.

Before I approach my scattered, possibly altered thoughts on the awesome PLUGGED I want to address the concept of ...AND ANOTHER THING being titled the SIXTH book. In essence this is untrue and discounts Doug’s unfinished, but still published posthumously SALMON OF DOUBT. Originally constructed to be the third book in the Dirky Gently series and indeed pretty much published as such, it is fairly known that Adams intended for it to become the “final” chapter in Hitchhiker’s. While …AND ANOTHER THING is a cleverly written book in which Eoin proves his stellar writing abilities, it really should be titled NOT REALLY, BUT KIND THE SOXTH BOOK, NOT THAT ANYONE”S COUNTING PER SE (or something akin to that).

In PLUGGED, Eoin brings us into a very bleak, troubled world, one that is cloistered, hidden, almost like a darkened stranglehold. It’s a place few would venture and even fewer would even consider. Yet it is also bitingly funny. There is an intense amount of dark humour (sic) in this book. It is mozzenfocking crazy I’m telling you. It is also pure modern noir and while reading it I could not help but envision it as a film. Although my cast isn’t completely not locked down. While it seems a perfect vehicle for say Vinnie Jones or Jason Statham, I also envision it being something Colin Farrell could bite his teeth into. Possibly Stuart Townsend, or maybe even Cillian Murphy. If it was 10-15 years ago it would easily be something Gabriel Byrne, Pierce Brosnan and Liam Neeson would be fighting each other for. While all those actors are very different, they all have a few things in common. They’re Irish, they can pull off being creepy badasses, and they have the acting talent to be a leading man who is serious, cynical, slightly crazy and amazingly charming all in one breath.

That is exactly what lead character in PLUGGED is. In my Unrevised and Unppublished edition I have for the use of this review his name is Dan McEvoy, but marketing on Amazon.com suggests this was changed Linc, which is short for Lincoln. I’m really hoping this is wrong, as Daniel just works way better. At least in my opinion.

On top of Daniel, the book is filled with amazing characters, all of them also larger than life, full of grit, and feeling all like they’ve stepped out of a 1930’s Dashiell Hammett novel, read a primer on the last 70 years of history and jumped right back into modern times. You got a wacky unlicensed doctor, a slimy sleazeball lawyer with mafia ties, a smalltime gangster who’s the big fish in a little pond, the crazy broad upstairs, the dyke like cop with sex appeal. Plus you have all the plot twists one would expect, conspiracy, murder, betrayal, coverups, drugs, smuggling, etc.

Is this starting to sound more like hype than a book review? That tends to happen when I really enjoyed something. I start overselling it. Maybe I want it to be mine and no one elses, but that wouldn’t be fair. People who enjoy a good detective mystery crime drama noir with messed jokes and crazy surrealism shouldn’t miss this one.