Why do I torture myself so? Oh yes, it’s because I love it.
I have a love-hate relationship with reviewing books. When I am really passionate about a book I love reviewing it at two points: when I’m in the middle of reviewing it and the words are flowing nicely and at the end when I have the finished glossy product to be proud of. I hate starting to write reviews and if I only reviewed a book for the sake of reviewing it and not because I could think of anything particularly unique or worthwhile to say about then there is nothing to enjoy. Luckily this book falls into the former category, so maybe I should just start actually writing the review.
The Icarus Show follows two young boys in secondary school and discusses themes of friendship, bullying, control and depression in a beautifully harrowing, evocative and nuanced way.
It is a story about two young boys in secondary school. This book was published in the UK, so to clear some things up that I noticed in some other people’s reviews: secondary school is NOT high school. Secondary school is 11-16. So middle school and the first two years of high school. I suppose you could technically include Sixth Form (16-18) in that, but usually we don’t as most people change schools at 16. Also, these boys are in lower secondary school: middle school.
I would, however, forgive anyone who made this mistake not only because of their possible unfamiliarity with the British (read: English) education system, but also because this book is placed amongst the YA books in a bookshop. And for once, I understand why. This book is about children of an age which would mostly appeal to middle grade readers. The themes and topics, however, are not something I would ever recommended to a 9 or 10 or even 11-year-old. It deals with common issues like fitting in and bullying, and one could even say that depression is a topic that does come up at around 11-12ish, but I think this book would could possibly go over the heads or possibly be too grown up for the lower end of middle grade. So yes, this book works better in YA.
Now onto things which are perhaps more interesting than the target audience of this book and the age of the characters.
I am not the biggest contemporary reader ever. I do read them, but I tend to be quite picky. This was right up my alleyway: it was slightly artsy (literally art), had beautiful writing and a really intense, beautifully sad and heartwarming plot. Sally Christie writes in such a lyrical way and the main characters had these really unique quirks which made the whole story so much more enjoyable.
The book isn’t very long and nearly everything that happens is small and minor, leading up to one big end point: there are only maybe one or two discernible subplots and it works. The simplicity in the storyline makes the ending so much more powerful and the character development that both of the main characters go through is important and turns them from caterpillars into beautiful butterflies that I want to keep forever. I loved the good adult role models and the useful families in this book and I also loved that a single-parent family dynamic was also shown and one side of that was explored.
This book probably had a few rushed or underdeveloped moments, but I was so taken in by the emotions it made me feel and all of the qualities I love in contemporaries, that I could and will continue to completely ignore them 🙂
In conclusion wow, this book was amazing and one of my new favourite contemporaries.