|"Boo" by Neil Smith|
While Boo is reciting the periodic table at his locker one day, someone shoots him; he dies instantly. Boo soon wakes up in the heaven for American 13-year-olds, where he thinks he's died of a heart defect. He soon learns the truth and discovers that his killer might be in heaven as well. With the help of Johnny, a classmate who was also murdered, Boo sets out to find the boy who killed him.
Boo deals with a very dark topic while maintaining a sense of levity throughout. Neil Smith manages to include a lot of humour while never losing sight of the tragedy that's happened. There's a really great sense of balance.
It's also an absolute roller coaster of emotions; in a book involving a school shooting, I think that's to be expected. But part of the roller coaster for me was the fact that every time I thought I knew what was coming, there was another twist. I love it when a book can consistently surprise me throughout!
Another thing I love about Boo is that the cast of characters is so diverse! One of the main characters is a little person, another prominent character has vitiligo, and there are people of many different races. I'm always looking out for diverse books, so this aspect of the book made me really happy.
The idea of a heaven for every age and every nationality is really interesting to me. Boo's heaven also addresses something I myself have wondered about - if someone has a mental disorder (which they have no control over) that causes them to act violently, are they punished for it in the afterlife? I really love the way the book deals with this very sensitive topic.
While it did take me a little while to get used to Boo's voice, I loved this book. The longer he was in heaven, the more he changed and the more I related to Boo. There are a lot of things I value about Boo: the subject matter is intriguing, the world and characters are well thought out, the characters are diverse, and there are twists and turns I never saw coming.
You can check out my recap of the Boo book launch here!