Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Review: Wonder by RJ Palacio

In One Line: Heart-wrenching, gorgeous tale of an ordinary boy with an extraordinary face.
Genre: Children’s literature future classic
The Gist:
10 year old August has been home-schooled all his life, his parents too scared to send him out into the big wide world because of his horrific facial disfigurements. But now the time has come to send him to proper school, and Auggie’s life, as well as the lives of the people closest to him, is going to change forever. 
The Cover:
This cover blows me away! It screams: READ ME!!! I love the fact that the designers/editors took a chance with this one and went all out to create an image that has the potential to become truly iconic. The artwork from the cover resonates with the sketches inside the book too, and even the advance proof copy I read has a design ethic that makes it stand out from all the rest. Truly impressive, and a cover that captivates and intrigues rather than bores and confuses. 
Why You’ll Love This Book
  • Auggie!!! Prepare to have your heart well and truly melted. He is gorgeous, and I just want to scoop him up and hug him tight! 
  • First Person Perspectives! The story flits around the viewpoints of some of the important people in Auggie’s life, and is done reassuredly and beautifully. I would perhaps like some of the voices to be a bit more singular and more stand-out, but I don’t think the point of this novel was to express the author’s talent at first-person dexterity (I’m actually pretty certain that the author has this talent anyway). 
  • Heart. This novel has so much heart that it creates a heart-shaped gravitational tug on your own heart, wrenching at it until it is just a bloody, pulpy mess on the floor. The result may be tears.
  • This book makes you want to be a better person. It makes you want to say hello to complete strangers on the street or get in touch with someone you haven’t seen in ages. Or at the very least just give the person next to you a hug (or a standing ovation!).

Why You May Not Love This Book:
  • Americanisms. If you’re the kind of person who detests that whole american hoopla of POSITIVITY! and CHEERING! and general YEYNESS! then you may find this book a little saccharine. It does not shy away from the schmaltz. 
  • I could have done with a little more darkness. Sure, there are some dark things that happen in this novel (dog lovers beware!), but the author always just shies away from really dark places. One thing I would have loved to explore more is the angry mother who wants Auggie to leave the school. I could have done with more of her! Just for a contrast from all the sweetness. 

The Hypersomnia Test:
It passed with glorious flying colours! I read the second half of this book in a couple of hours in Starbucks, and I sank back into my chair and just wallowed in the wonder of Wonder. The chapters are short, which keeps the pace up, and the plot doesn’t sink at all, anywhere. It just keeps going, and even if you’re revisiting moments from another perspective, you’ll never be bored. I was very sad when it ended - I could read the entirity of Auggie’s life!
Final Verdict:
Oh what a wonderful, wonderful book. This is one for kids to read, then for older brothers and sisters to read, and then for the parents and grandparents to pick up too. A lot of people I know actually cried at the end - I didn’t, but I was left with a lovely bubbly feeling of joy in my tummy. Read this book and become a better person!
Further Reading:
When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead
A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness
To buy Wonder please click HERE!!!