Quite a bit has been said about Nick McDonnel’s novel, both good and bad. I fact, it has been highly praised by some critics. But let me start by saying that I saw the movie first. I quite enjoyed it. I was not great but it was mildly entertaining and some characters were interesting. So I went on Google to try and find out something more about the book. The general opinion seemed to be that the movie did no justice to the book (no surprises there). So I decided to get the book only to find out that the movie was pretty faithful to it.
The book is about a drug dealer in New Y0rk’s Upper East Side. It talks about a lot of different characters which are all connected somehow. Without a doubt, White Mike, seems to me like the most interesting one. His mother died of cancer when he was still in high school which is the main reason why he ended up dealing. And while I like the way the author let’s you see his loneliness and disillusionment with the world without being obvious about it I think he could have explored the character some more. There is also Jessica, one of the rich kids, who becomes addicted to Twelve, the new drug in town. I like the way McDonnel shows us how easy it is to cross the line of self-respect and dignity for drugs, specially taking into account the supposedly bright future Jessica had ahead. Some of the other characters are also interesting but the general feeling I got was a lack of depth in all of them.
The story itself takes us to a very dramatic ending which seemed to be a good way to end the book but didn’t resolve many of the character’s issues. What happened to them after the story ends didn’t seem very important. They all kept going on with their life, if not as usual, not very differently. And while in other books I probably would have found this disappointing, in this one I feel like it was the right way to do it. This world is not likely to change, and therefore the character’s are not going to change either since they are dominated by what surrounds them. I really think it was a very plausible way to end it.
All in all I don’t think the book is as good as some critics try to make it look like but it is also not bad. The main thing I like about it is how, in a world where everybody can have everything they want and are constantly surrounded by people they are mostly lonely and unhappy. An old idea but presented in fresh way. However, I do think that it had a lot of potential but didn’t really achieve all it could have.