Genre: Contemporary Fiction
What They Say:
Like many ambitious New York City teenagers, Craig Gilner sees entry into Manhattan's Executive Pre-Professional High School as the ticket to his future. Determined to succeed at life, Craig studies night and day to ace the entrance exam, and does. That's when things start to get crazy.
At his new school, Craig realizes that he's just average, and maybe not even that. The stress becomes unbearable and Craig stops eating and sleeping -- until, one night, he nearly kills himself.
Craig's suicidal episode gets him checked into a mental hospital. There, isolated from the crushing pressures of school and friends, Craig is finally able to confront the sources of his anxiety. Ned Vizzini, who himself spent time in a psychiatric hospital, has created a moving tale about depression, that's definitely a funny story.
What I Say:
If I were to write a list of things I don’t like doing, somewhere on there would be reading a book after I’ve seen its film adaptation. Maybe it’s my book snob side, but when people tell me they’re doing that, I always wonder where they were three years ago when the book actually came out. So this particular book has been made into a film (in theatres October 8) and I was determined to read it before I watched it. For the subject matter, this book was strangely funny and heartwarming. That said…
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
So there’s this boy, Craig. He’s depressed. Why? He spent a year studying for the entrance exam of one of the most prestigious high schools in the country, where the elite train to become tycoons and presidents and stuff. But Craig isn’t an elite. He isn’t a genius. He’s just an average kid, and it shows at Executive Pre-Pro. His best friend smokes pot and still aces exams without lifting a finger, the girl he loves is all over said best friend, and Craig hasn’t been able to keep down a meal in weeks. As the workload and pressure at school increase, he begins to spiral into a depression which leads to a five a.m. phone call to the Suicide Hotline. And that's all before he checks into the mental hospital…
While the overall plot of this book was good, it’s clear that Vizzini wrote this story around his characters. I actually really appreciated it. Of course I like a good story, but when it comes to contemporary fiction, I feel like everything’s been done at one point or another (and if it hasn’t, it’s probably ridiculous à la Flowers In The Attic, haha). However, I feel like there are endless combinations when it comes to characters, just like there are endless combinations with real people, so I think Vizzini made the right choice here. The story, after all, is based on his own stay in a mental hospital, so his deepest impressions would have come from the people he met, not the things he did there.
I liked Craig. I could respect him. He has a whole host of problems and talks about them at length, but for the most part he doesn’t sound like a whiner. I liked how Vizzini didn’t make him total nutcase to begin with, because I don’t think I would have sympathized with him as much if he were. Not because he was crazy, but because it wouldn’t make sense for him to have been living such a normal life before; he’d seem like a brat who didn’t want help.
I didn’t not like Noelle. I did like her. But outside of Craig, she didn’t have much to her. Though, because of how the story strongly focuses on Craig, this is the same with most of the other characters, too. An upside to this is that what we do hear about every character are always their most interesting traits and best moments.
Craig and Noelle - I loved this relationship. It was so straightforward and functional. All relationships should be like this one, haha. Okay, so maybe it was the very best relationship I ever read, not at all. But I’ve read so many overcomplicated love-like stories, that this one was at least refreshing. And who doesn’t love it when the guy gets the girl at the end?
Special Features: ooh
So this whole book is written about mental problems (it’d be weird if it weren’t…). It’s interesting stuff, not that that’s a surprise or anything. Also, I’m a sucker for a kid born and bred in New York City. Also also, the boy playing Craig in the film is kind of adorable.
“Oh. Right. Ah…are you straight?”I love these two, tee hee.
She sighs. “Yes. Don’t get too excited. You don’t have a boner, do you?”
"No!” I cross my legs. “No. … Do you have to wear uniforms?”
“Are you like a school-uniform pervert?”