A strange story about a boy who grows up in a room by himself. Through his extreme isolation, he discovers he has powers beyond that of a normal boy. There is a mystery surrounding his parentage and also about the world outside the only room he has ever known. The boy’s name is Billy Dean and this is his tale.
This pseudo-memoir is written mostly phonetically and with intentional misspellings, which was incredibly annoying at first, but you find yourself getting used to it. “This tale is told by 1 that died at birth by 1 that came into the world in the days of endles war & at a moment of disaster. He grew in isolayshon wile the enjins of destruchshon flew & smoke rose over the sitys & wile wilderness & waste crept all acros the world.” pg 1, ebook.
David Almond was attempting to capture Billy Dean’s innocent but uneducated voice through the misshaping of the words. I get what he was going for, but felt it did a disservice to the story.
Which wasn’t that good. It could have been though and that was disappointing.
Take this intense moment when Billy Dean’s father tells him that he should have killed his son the moment he was born: “Wilfred O bliddy Wilfred shud hav killd the monster in the woom. …. He grabbd me by the throte. Shudnt he? he yelld at me. Anser me you cretin! Tel me I shud have ended it befor it had bluddy begun. Tel me yes you shud hav Daddy!” pg 32, ebook.
It just doesn’t have the impact it could have, does it.
Or this moment, when Billy Dean is comforting his mother: “Im so sory” she wispers. “It was all supposed to be so different.” … “Its lovely Mam” he grones at her. “Its byutiful.” And all this nite he wil not slepe for the aykin of his mussels & the stingin of his bones & the thumpin of his hart & the byuty & the wunder of this world. pg 87
Beyond my issues with how the author chose to present his story, I felt that the magical part of the story was misshandled, especially when it comes to the child Billy Dean.
It made the timing of events feel strange. Nothing would happen, this this huge unexplained thing would roll out and the reader would be expected to accept that as the new normal and go on.
Perhaps Almond was trying to express the inexplicable nature of existence?
This book left me with a lot of unanswered questions, but not in a good way. I can’t recommend it.
Thanks for reading.