I was excited to see that Mark Haddon had written a new book but was rather surprised to find that it was heading for the children’s department. I am a fan of Haddon’s adult fiction works The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time (a past Reading Together selection) and his less acclaimed Spot of Bother. It isn’t uncommon for authors to cross genres and audiences and I decided it was worth giving Haddon’s latest book, Boom!, a read.
In the book’s introduction I learned that it was originally published in 1992 under the title Gridzbi Spudvetch!. Haddon jokingly states that only twenty-three people bought this difficult to pronounce title. At the time it was first published, Haddon had not received his notoriety so it isn’t all that surprising that the author and his publishers decided to update, rename and republish this book.
Boom! is the story of two young friends who find themselves in a life-changing misadventure after bugging their school faculty’s staff room. Overhearing a conversation between two teachers in a secret language, the boys’ curiosity is piqued. They boost their spy skills to a new level in order to find out what their teachers are up to only to find that they are now the ones being targeted! As the plot unfolds with amusing and lively twists and turns, the boys find that the “evaluation” they are receiving might be out of this world! I’ll leave the rest for you to discover.
The book is both humorous and fun. While I believe that Haddon’s writing skills have improved in his more recent works, I found that his knack for character development is his talent and true foundation. If you’ve read his other novels, you know that no one writes an innocent, naïve character better than Mark Haddon. It’s easy and fun to get lost in his work.