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John Grisham has delighted his readers for a number of years, and has recently explored a slightly different avenue, that of writing for a younger audience. This is the second Theodore Boone book, and like the first, it heavily focuses on Grisham's area of expertise (law) but without getting bogged down in excessive detail and maintaining an appropriate level of character and plot content to be suitable for the younger reader. Theo Boone is a confident and bright teen, always polite and well respected, relied upon by his peers and often teachers for the most basic of legal advice without having to consult a lawyer. He often helps his friends out in disputes, and the first book featured a couple of occasions where he became involved in the court process for the families of his friends at school. It's all very idealistic yet somewhat unrealistic, providing a sort of utopian situation for a promising young lawyer to practice, the judges and other lawyers all respecting him as he hangs around the courthouse where his parents are both top lawyers. It seems somewhat surprising therefore that any serious crimes could ever be committed anywhere near Theo, but when his best friend April disappears under controversial circumstances, it's all hands to the pump as first of all the authorities fear the worst with a dangerous relative broken out of prison and reportedly nearby, and with Theo and his friends deciding to mount their own publicity exercise to see if anyone knows anything. Throughout this, the language and tone of the book is kept very basic, almost sheltering the young reader from some of the more serious consequences and possibilities. At one point, Grisham teeters towards some of the more gruesome and detailed elements of his legal crime thrillers he is more famed for, but this never manifests into anything overly detailed and soon disappears from most lines of story progression, the attention focusing as Theo coerces the black sheep of the family, his Uncle Ike, into helping him explore an extravagant theory. The characters are rather shallow if I'm honest, and while this is somewhat necessary to maintain the interest of kids reading the book, it does mean that for an adult it's a slightly weak read. Imagine James Patterson's standard books but with less detail and the same speed of reading ease. I found the pages here flowed extremely quickly as there wasn't a great deal of substance to have to digest. Events were described in very basic detail, sentence structure kept to the uncomplicated, and plenty of occasions where simpler words have been used where longer ones may have had more impact but required the inevitable looking up or glossing over without comprehension. All in all, I'd say that it fits for its audience, but if you're looking for something for you as an adult reader then it's not going to have much impact. Well written and certainly worth a go, it only took me a couple of days to work through, and as its 200 or so pages are pitched at 8-13 year olds, I'd say it does what it should. Thumbs up.
Some of the best stories in recent years have been aimed at children. Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials, The boy in the striped pyjamas by John Boyne and let us not forget the Potter boy. Now adult writer John Grisham has branched out into writing stories aimed at 8 to 13 year olds. This is the second in the series. This review is for the hardback edition of the novel. Paperback and Kindle versions are also available. ~The Plot~ Theodore Boone, a character introduced in John Grisham's previous novel of the same name, is back. This time whilst faced with the standard every day issues of doing his homework, helping people with legal issues and surviving his mother's cooking, also has to investigate the disappearance of his fiend April. April disappears from her bedroom one night and Theo must use his legal knowledge and investigative skills to find out what happens to her. The story has some twists and turns but it isn't an edge of your seat page turner. It is enjoyable though. ~Characterisation~ The characters are a little over idealised... good, bad black, white. Others have complained about this but in my opinion it's what gives authenticity to the story being told from the perspective of a child. Yes, know it all Theodore may be a little too perfect with his constant doing the right thing, good grades and manners but that's not such a bad role model for a child to have. Other characters such as Theo's parents and the other adults around him, such as his uncle, teachers, judges, are not as fully fledge as the children in the story but this in a way made mem remember how I saw the world at age 13 (A very very long time ago). ~Ease of Reading~ As with all of Grisham's work, the story is incredibly well written and is very easy to read. In the hardback version the font is slightly larger than a standard novel and is spaced out and chapters are chapters are generally around six or seven pages to make it more suitable for children to follow and a pretty quick read for adults. ~Wider Context~ The Theodore stories are aimed at 8-13-year-olds, I would put it in the same category as Famous five/Secret Seven type stories. Yes, it lacks the thrills and excitement of the famous Potter kid but on the whole it is grounded in reality, I think wholesome is the word I am looking for. I also find that there is an intelligence behind it, that the cleverness that Grisham expels in his stories for grown-ups is still evident in Theodore Boone, it just takes a slightly different form. The conclusion is the same though; it requires the reader to use their brain but is still fun at the same time. Those inquisitive children who ask a lot of questions would really enjoy it. ~The Author~ John Grisham is a legal thriller/suspense author who has sold over 250 million copies of his books worldwide having written 24 novels based at adults, three children's novels and collection of stories. Having practised law for over a decade and it is clear to see ther influence of this on his work. Whilst the Boone stories are entertaining, they are not the best example of what he can do. If you have never read a John Grisham novel before I would recommend that you start with The Street Lawyer or The Rainmaker. Nine of his novels have also been adapted into films including The Firm, The Chamber, The Client, A Painted House, The Pelican Brief, Skipping Christmas, The Rainmaker, The Runaway Jury, and A Time to Kill. ~Technical Details~ Hardcover: 256 pages Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton; First UK Edition, First Printing edition (9 Jun 2011) Language: English ISBN-10: 144471452X ISBN-13: 978-1444714524 Product Dimensions: 13.6 x 2.4 x 22.3 cm This review is published under my user name on both Ciao and Dooyoo. July 2012