Saturday, 13 October 2012
Review: The Boy Who Made It Rain By Brian Conaghan
The Boy Who Made It Rain begins in the aftermath of an unspecified tragedy at a school in Glasgow. As a number of students and teachers recount the events that led up to the incident, one student is revealed to be at the centre of the action: Clem, a transfer student from the South of England. He remains a mysterious and somewhat menacing figure as we get differing interpretations of his character from the people who know him.
The initial narrators include Clem's girlfriend, her best friend, her mum, a teacher from Clem's previous school, a teacher from his new school, and one of the popular guys. It's not often that a book contains so many varying perspectives, and it's even less often that it's done well - but I was really impressed with the way each character had a distinct voice in The Boy Who Made It Rain. It was also interesting to note their differing interpretations of events, indicating that each was an unreliable narrator. Much of the first half of the novel has you trying to figure out who is right, who is lying, who was involved - not to mention what exactly happened.
Conaghan switches gears at the halfway mark, and after hearing nothing from Clem for over a hundred pages (except distilled through the others' interpretations), the rest of the book is narrated solely by him. We finally get his side of the story, as well as some exact descriptions of events as we begin to piece together what actually happened. While the writing remained strong, I have to say this is where the book started to go downhill for me.
I really didn't like Clem as a character and found it difficult to sympathise with him. I was also frustrated that the subplot that had taken up a large portion of the narration in the first half of the book - and appeared to be significant - basically went nowhere. It seemed to have no connection to the main plot, which, when it finally reached its climax, was also a bit of a let down. It sounds terrible, but I felt like after 200-odd pages of build up to what seemed to be a monumental tragedy, what happened wasn't actually that bad. I mean, it was bad, but it wasn't anywhere near as bad as I'd been anticipating. It didn't help that the description of the incident was very vague and somewhat confusing; I found it difficult to picture what exactly was going on. I think this was done purposely, to convey the confusion of the moment, but again after so much build up I was frustrated by the lack of clarity. Don't get me wrong, it's not like I wanted gory detail - but a bit more coherance, or at least an epilogue explaining everything, would have been great. Because that was the most frustrating part of all - it just ended. Of course, it's not the kind of story where everything should be tied up in a neat bow, but any kind of knot would have been good. As it is, there are a few too many loose threads for my liking. Still, I really liked the book overall and would recommend it to anyone looking for a quick and unique read.
Genre: Contemporary, Young Adult
Published: 2011, Sparkling Books
Get It: Abebooks