Author: John Wray
Early one morning in New York City, Will Heller, a sixteen-year-old paranoid schizophrenic, gets on an uptown B train alone. Will is on a mission to save the world from global warming--to do it, though, he'll need to cool down his own body first. And for that he'll need one willing girl.
Lowboy tells the story of Will's odyssey through the city's tunnels, back alleys, and streets in search of Emily Wallace, his one great hope. It also follows his mother, Violet Heller, as she tries desperately to find her son before psychosis claims him completely. Violet is joined by Ali Lateef, a missing-persons specialist, who learns over the course of the day that more is at stake than the recovery of a runaway teen: Will Heller has a chilling story, and Violet--beautiful, enigmatic, and as tormented as her son---harbors a secret that Lateef will discover at his own peril.
Honestly, the peculiar plot and the various elements contained within the story intrigued me and if I could sum the book up in one word it would probably be....dysfunction--not because the book was terrible, but because it was the dysfunctional part in everyone that controlled the dynamic. This dysfunction and wanting to know how Lateef was going to find Lowboy before something potentially violent happened, created so much anxiety for me, and really propelled me through an already short book. Of course, there are some parts that are disconnected, mostly Lowboy's narrative...but then again that's probably done on purpose for effect.
I really enjoyed the tension between Lateef and Violet. It was actually sort of... romantic?--but also really inappropriate and grotesque at the same time. I'd like to think it would've worked out if a couple keys things didn't happen. Mainly, if Violet Heller wasn't ill herself. In fact, a few things caused me to raise an eyebrow: if Lateef was so smart and witty, why couldn't he see that Violet Heller was a schizophrenic? Why didn't Emily call the police when she found Will at Crowley? and I refuse to believe that a seriously ill person like Lowboy would manage to remain a runaway for so long...but then, there's that dysfunction again. Lateef, while sharp, clearly had some familial issues of his own and did seem lonely...which would maybe explain his unwillingness to see Violet for what she was...even though the signs were all there and she verbally admitted she was apart of the problem. And Emily; if someone had pushed me onto train tracks with a train only one stop away, I would never EVER want to see that person again. Lowboy's entire situation is just another quintessential example of dysfunction in our society; society's inability to care for/about or deal with mentally ill people. This is reflected by Violet's core concern; she always wondered what would happen when they found Will. What would happen if he was violent? Would they hurt him? Would they kill a schizophrenic?
I have to say, the ending is lame...It was just so predictable. Part of me wanted everything to just be okay, to return to some degree of normalcy, but dysfunction wouldn't have that now, would it?...I didn't like the slightly nihilistic undertones throughout the book, talk of the end of the world, the constant questioning by Lowboy of why he was born and the realization of the answer with his death--by train of all things!
4 out of 5 stars