Oliver “Boo” Dalrymple is at his locker minding his own business and trying to recite the periodic table of elements when his life is taken from him. While he’s getting the hang of his new life in heaven, he meets a boy who was also killed during the school shooting. Together, along with some new friends, they take on the task of finding the identity of the shooter and avenging their death.
Pitched as “Lord of the Flies meets The Lovely Bones“, Boo certainly meets that comparison. Oliver is an unusual and interesting narrator, speaking as if dictating a memoir to his parents back on Earth and thereby taking us, as the reader, on an adventure as we discover his new home in heaven along with him. Smith has a unique take on his world-building of a heaven where everyone there is 13, and died when they were 13. He’s created a dynamic cast of characters in Oliver’s new reality, however I did find it getting a bit repetitive with how they are mentioned throughout the novel. Yes, there are a number of kids but almost all mentions of these characters were prefaced with their attribute (i.e. “Peanut Girl Sandy” or “Portal Benny”) – which got a bit tiresome to read after a while.
That being said, this book’s meandering kept me turning the pages and wondering what the outcome would be. A bad habit I have while reading is trying to figure it out – and then being mad at myself that I figured it out so early. I have to commend Boo on doing a great job on keeping me guessing. At so many points I had a-ha moments like I figured it out, and was very pleasantly surprised to find that I was wrong.
Boo is a moving story about life, death and life after death. It’s about bullies and friendships, new and old. The book is both uplifting and heartbreaking, making you smile and tear up from one moment to the next. A great read for those who want a unique voice and a unique story.