One of my holiday reading choices was "Anthem of a Reluctant Prophet", the first novel written by Canadian writer, Joanne Proulx.
The story is of seventeen year old Luke Hunter who lives in a small (and seemingly depressing!) town called Stokum. Luke spends most of his time either on his skateboard or more often, smoking pot with an assortment of misfit friends in his friend "Fang" Delaney's basement.
Things change one night when, in a pot-fuelled high, he predicts the death of one of his friends, Stan, the very next morning with eerie accuracy. Luke's small but fairly straightforward life turns up side down as he is chased down by members of the church, members of the media and a mother of a missing girl who all want him to use his powers for their benefit. Luke tries through the time of the novel to make sense of these new changes as more and more predictions come true. He battles with feelings for his dead friends girlfriend, the complexities of his relationship with his best friend Fang as well as an uncle who may or may not share the same powers as him but whom Luke hasn't seen for years.
Written in the language of a 17 year old, I would say that the writing style is probably the most successful part of this novel. Proulx writing style is totally unique and although I am not a 17 year old American male, she seems to get the teenage angst and slang just right in my opinion - If I hadn't seen the name and the authors picture on the back of the cover, I would have thought it was written by a man!
The story is written from Luke's perspective, and quite possibly it is hard to read to begin with. The novel is peppered with slang and swear words that you can imagine a 17 year old would use and it manages to come across accurate and interesting, not to mention darkly humorous in a teenage boy kind of way!
I found it really interesting reading, because although it is written in "Luke's" style and language, quite often the phrases used are really quite clever and so still maintain a sense of adulthood and reads really well once you get in to it.
I read about half of the book when I was on holiday, and then my boyfriend nicked it off of me so I started something else. At first, he said started to get annoyed, and about half way through (about where I had reached) he said that he wanted something to happen and he felt like it was dragging although he thought the character was interesting enough.
After he had finished with it, I carried on where I left off, and I did find myself agreeing with him. I admit to getting fairly impatient with the pace of the story. Sometimes, although Luke's narrative is quirky and really quite interesting, the lack of story really ruins it. I could go for several chapters where not a lot happened to progress the story, and it was incredibly frustrating.
What you do see with this book however, is (and forgive me for sounding clichéd!) a journey of a young boy who, before the death revelations, was a self confessed loser, wasted his life smoking pot and had no self esteem whatsoever and who, quite frankly couldn't give a shite about anyone except perhaps his parents (underneath it all obviously!).
As the story unfolds, so does the complexities of Luke's character, and all his anger and fear are revealed through the writing and you feel as though Luke has grown up between the first couple of chapters and the last. As a reader, I did feel for Luke, his isolation in what he was going through, he is in turns clueless young and immature as well as wise, extremely quick witted, talented and intelligent.
However, I don't think I would go as far as to recommend this to anyone. It was slow reading still, and I did find myself skipping sections towards the end where Luke is in a more maudlin mood! Without wanting to spoil the plot - not a lot gets resolved either, so if you like books with open endings, this might be suitable for you! I read an American review somewhere where the author thought these unanswered questions meant that it might lead to a sequel. Perhaps, but I think a lot more needs to happen to make the story more interesting before I picked up another of these books.
I felt that my whole reason for picking the book up was not the journey of the boy but why the boy was having these death premonitions. The first premonition is interesting and had me reading further and I felt cheated when the rest didn't follow this through. From that point of view I was slightly disappointed.