Jasper Jones is a YA novel by Craig Silvey.
In a small mining town in Vietnam War-era Australia, it's a sweltering summer. And it's on one of these hot nights that Jasper Jones, the town's teenage outcast, appears at the window of thirteen-year-old aspiring writer Charlie Bucktin.
Jasper Jones needs Charlie's help but refuses to say with what - instead he wants to show him. Both scared and excited to be sneaking out of the house for the first time, Charlie can't imagine what Jasper could need him for, but he's rather honored - and determined to not let him down.
But Jasper leads Charlie to a secret spot in the woods that Jasper likes to stay - and gives him no warning for what he is about to see.
It's horrifying - and what Jasper wants... it's wrong. Charlie knows it's wrong. Yet there's an odd sort of sense to it, and before Charlie can really think straight decisions have been made and secrets have been locked - because there's no turning back now...
Jasper Jones starts off like a nervous but flattering adventure - but ends up being a nightmare for our Charlie, as he follows bad-reputation Jasper Jones into a secluded area. There's a creepiness to this entire scene that leads up to a chilling, startling discovery - done very well by author Craig Silvey. I can't really say what it is that Charlie sees without giving away much of the suspense and a lot of what happens afterwards - you should really read it to find out.
What I can say is that Jasper Jones is an edgy coming-of-age story. You've got Charlie's seemingly unhappy mother, his quiet father, his hilarious but terribly treated Vietnamese best friend, and a town barely holding on to its civility as it deals with the fallout of war, the heat, and now this new horror - which I won't give away. And Charlie who has never kept a secret like the one he's keeping now, finds himself losing his grip on his relationships and seeing things differently - how can any of it end well?
Craig Silvey doesn't hesitate to make Jasper Jones scary, nerve-wracking, and deeply disturbing at times. He quickly captured my attention and doesn't let it go. It's sometimes laugh-out-loud funny with its fantastic dialogue, sometimes absolutely heartbreaking - always irreverant and undeniably bold.
I didn't love everything about Jasper Jones - there were some subjects of conversation and views by the author I didn't agree with - and sometimes the novel was darker than I prefer to really delve into - as well as some points later on that did become slower for me personally - but overall I really felt that Jasper Jones was successful at creating an atmosphere similiar to literary beauts like To Kill a Mockingbird - and had a sensitive, lovely heart to it that made it sometimes painful to read - but definitely worth it!
***ALERT: Due to continued bibliophile reading overdosing, I am continuing the 5 reviews a week through August. After that, I am absolutely returning to only 3 reviews a week in September and on. So, we'll just think of this as a summer special! Thanks for reading!!!