Question: What do an alien race and human chromosome 22 have in common? Answer: Max...
An Extraordinary Boy encompasses the reader in the world of academia and more specifically, the antediluvian bubble of geneticist, Professor Julian Grey: an eccentric, scatterbrained, middle-aged chap trapped in a loveless marriage but blessed with oodles of good intentions albeit complemented with very little common sense or organised thought.
24 terminally ill children are abducted and then mysteriously returned – cured and in pairs, at random locations across the UK. Government stooge and fellow geneticist, Louis DeMarr, is in it knee-deep and musingly appoints competitor, Grey, as chair of the committee created to investigate the apparent alien abductions and study the returned children. None are exceptional – except perhaps for the fact that they are cured of their illness, and except for the final pair: Max and Jonathan. Rather unrealistically, Grey manages to adopts Max when the hysteria over the inexplicable abduction and subsequent return of the children; and thereafter sets about trying to uncover what his son is and what it all means…
The good: An Extraordinary Boy is mystifyingly, absurdly, utterly readable. The story is complex, but compelling and offers a novel slant on the alien-abduction scenario mankind is so morbidly fascinated with. The bad: Unfortunately, the editorial mistakes are insufferable and can set the most patient and lenient of reader to grinding their teeth in frustration or annoyance – the most irritating is the constant use of? As if every sentence is a question? Even when it is obvious that it isn’t a question? The ugly: this is down to personal taste, but the book cover is awful, as is the font choice and the hodgepodge layout of the text.
With its convoluted narrative and the author’s persistent jumping around with little regard to chronological order; this book can be difficult to get to grips with and certainly demands your full attention. If that’s given, however, it opens up like a flower in sunshine and permits you access to an absorbing, if mostly baffling, story. Planted firmly at the feet of an adult audience, Hewitt manages to make the notion of alien abduction and experimentation a little easier to swallow. This is one definitely worth a look… and possibly an improved second edition?
We interview C J Daugherty about Night School
- 10 January 2012