Wednesday, May 6, 2015

The Boy Who Knew Too Much by Jeffrey Westhoff

Title: The Boy Who Knew Too Much
Author: Jeffrey Westhoff
Released June 1st, 2015
ARC sent by publisher
Rating: 4/5


The adventure of his dreams just became a nightmare.

The Boy Who Knew Too Much is an action-charged YA adventure that blends the suspense of Alfred Hitchcock with the thrills of James Bond.

While on a school trip to Europe, Milwaukee teenager Brian Parker hopes for just a taste of the glamour and excitement of his favorite spy novels. Yet Brian gets way more than a taste when he stumbles across a wounded spy in a Lucerne alley.

The man's dying words catapult Brian into a desperate chase across the continent. America's latest super weapon is at stake, and everyone from a rogue CIA officer to a sadistic criminal mastermind is after it - and Brian. New enemies emerge at every turn, but Brian soon finds a welcome ally in Larissa, a beautiful French girl who loves the Ramones and is handy with a blast of pepper spray.

Brian faces a deadly path, but reading all those spy novels has taught him a few tricks of the trade. They just might save his life (Summary from Goodreads).

This is the first YA spy novel I've ever read, and it was everything I would expect in a spy-type novel: action, adventure, and your somewhat cliche mad scientist and criminal mastermind. Since this book has not yet been released, I will try not to include any spoilers to you guys.

15 year-old Brian starts off on an adventure when he stumbles upon a nearly dead spy while on a school trip in Europe who gives him cryptic information to pass on to the American embassy in France.  Although Brian is a huge fan of spy novels, he never would have thought he'd be kidnapped multiple times and hunted down by a criminal while on his school field trip.

One of the things I liked most about this book was that each chapter ended with something unexpected that really made me want to keep reading.  I tend to like books with short chapters that end in mini-cliffhangers and they remind me of the Mary Higgins Clark mystery/thriller novels I used to be obsessed with in middle school.  It keeps the story fast-paced.

Also, one of the characters named Jack Silver brought back pleasant memories of Treasure Island's Long John Silver.  Not only do these two characters share the same last name, but they also have a limp and do morally questionable things. For some reason I found Brian to be a know-it-all but I warmed up to his character by the end.  

I'm not sure if it was my reading slump or the fact that I'm getting stressed out about finals week coming up, but there were a couple things that bothered me. I found that the dialogue felt rather plain and the characters lacked personality a bit. Sometimes the writing felt more middle-grade, so I think my younger self would have appreciated this book more.  However, if you like spy novels I think you'll enjoy this more than me.

Overall, it was a very pleasant read that I probably could have finished in three days if I wasn't going through an end-of-semester burnout and reading slump (it took me about a week to finish even though it's only 268 pages!) While this wasn't a genre I typically read, I enjoyed it nonetheless.

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