Author: Chris Colfer
Published: November 20th 2012, Little Brown Books for Young Readers
Edition: ebook, 256 pages
Genre: Realistic fiction, humor
Age group: Young Adult
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
‘Struck By Lightning: The Carson Phillips Journal’ follows the story of outcast high school senior Carson Phillips, who blackmails the most popular students in his school into contributing to his literary journal to bolster his college application; his goal in life is to get into Northwestern and eventually become the editor of The New Yorker. At once laugh-out-loud funny, deliciously dark, and remarkably smart, Struck By Lightning unearths the dirt that lies just below the surface of high school. At a time when bullying torments so many young people today, this unique and important novel sheds light with humor and wit on an issue that deeply resonates with countless teens and readers.
I’ll admit that I was only interested in this book in the first place because it was written by Chris Colfer. I’ve never been a fan of him, particularly, but I’ve been watching Glee since it’s very first season. (The show is really not that great anymore, but I still watch it out of habit.) I was really impressed, though, bu the fact that Chris Colfer wrote a book, and it also wasn’t an autobiography which is what celebrities usually write. It is a separate fictional story, which also received some praise from both critics and readers. And I’m really subject to this factor, so, of course, I couldn’t miss this book.
The first thing that really surprised me was that I never expected Chris Colfer to write like this. The story is told from the point of view of main character Carson Phillips, and he is very sarcastic. My perception of Chirs Colfer has generally been based on his character in Glee Kurt Hummel, who is very calm and soft, kind of harmless. But real Chris Colfer is definitely a wholly different person, and this book shows that he has a very witty mind. His Carson has a very developed and strong opinion on everything that surrounds him or he has to deal with.
First its his divorced parents. Carson’s father is now getting married to a very young woman, who is also expecting his baby, and he uses Carson to impress her with an image of a caring father and husband. And Carson’s mother is still affected by the divorce and spends her days lying on the couch and taking lots of antidepressants. Carson is really put down by all this, His relationship with his parents is very harsh most times, because he understands that none of them care about his future.
Then its Carson’s attitude to the school and education in general. It was very entertaining to read about his relationships with students and teachers. Carson wasn’t the one to stay in somebody’s shadow, he would always voice his opinion on every matter, no matter how much it could annoy everybody. Chris Colfer made it a very funny read, and I laughed many times through it.
But there was also a thing in this book that bothered me. Despite it not being a happy-ending kind of story, this was not what disappointed me. I was pit off by how mean to everyone Carson was most of the time. He not only thought all this sarcastic and mocking things about people around him, but he also always voiced them. And that’s probably the reason why he was always alone. It was also the reason why it was hard for me to connect to him.
Carson’s aversion to his hometown Clover and his comparisons of it to a prison was in my mind a bit too much. I mean, yes, he didn’t really have a happy life there, but he was a teenager and he was too angry. A friend who is not his grandmother, who couldn’t even recognize him, would have been more that welcome.
I liked the plot, though, the whole idea of Carson blackmailing the most popular students at school to write for his literary magazine. That was really funny. And I liked that the magazine with all the entries was included into the book. It gave a clearer view on every character of the story.
I have a very conflicting impression of the ending. On one hand I thought that it was an appropriate final for such a story. But on the other hand, I can’t help finding it too depressing. I wish there was more to Carson’s story, I would loved to see him as a grown man, and find out whether he and his views on life changed.
On the whole, the book is a nice and entertaining read, and I really enjoyed it. I also watched the movie version of it and can say, that it’s not the same without Carson’s inner monologue. The movie was a bit boring without it.
Favorite character: Malerie Baggs
Favorite quote: “You don’t get to pick where you’re from, but you always have control of where you’re going.” (Carson Phillips)