Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Billy Christmas - Mark A. Pritchard

Title: Billy Christmas
Author: Mark A. Pritchard
Publisher: Alan Squire Publishing, 2012 (Paperback)
Length: 300 pages
Genre: Young Adult; Fantasy, Science Fiction
Started: November 16, 2012
Finished: November 19, 2012

From the inside cover:

Billy Christmas is a boy with a man's problems. Since his father disappeared mysteriously last Christmas, Billy's mom has withdrawn completely into her grief, neglecting him and everything else. Now, in addition to his schoolwork, Billy must also keep the household running for both of them, cooking, cleaning, and paying the bills from their ever-dwindling bank account.

Meanwhile, his father's departure has become the chief topic of conversation in the small town of Marlow, and most of Billy's classmates either ignore or bully him. Resourceful and brave, Billy relies on his best friend Katherine for strength, and on his own inner certainty that somewhere, somehow, his father is still alive and wants to come home.

Then, twelve days before Christmas, Billy is given a magical challenge, a series of twelve difficult and dangerous tasks. If he completes them all, his dream of being reunited with his missing dad might come true.

*Here there be spoilers*

This book really intrigued me when I saw it listed among the new books in the library. After reading it through though, I don't know if it's because I was sleep deprived while reading it (my daughter's been having a rough week post immunizations), or whether I expected something completely different than what I got, but this book just didn't do it for me.

Billy Christmas' life is worse at thirteen than most adults can claim: his father disappeared on Christmas Day a year ago, leaving his mother a broken-down wreck and forcing Billy to run the household and take care of himself, plus dealing with bullying and gossip from classmates and townspeople. When, 12 days before the anniversary of his father's disappearance, Billy goes to get a Christmas tree for the house equipped with it's own set of special ornaments, he realizes this is no ordinary tree. The tree comes alive and tells him that if he agrees to complete 12 tasks (based on the ornaments) before the anniversary, he'll be able to get his father back.

I figured, okay, talking tree, not a big deal, I've read weirder stuff for sure, and in the beginning when Billy was completing the tasks everything flowed well and it seemingly had a purpose. All the tasks dealt with Billy facing up to something he'd been avoiding or helping others. The book at this point definitely had sprinklings of post-modern style and it worked...I assumed that the magic tree was there to help Billy move on from his dad's disappearance, to show him what he needed to do to heal himself and help his mother heal, and to accept the fact his dad wasn't coming back. Yeah, I was wrong...then Billy has to fight a huge stone Gargoyle and we find out his dad is really some supernatural being with imagination powers that's been locked away for a year and Billy is a hybrid and the reason why scary things are trying to kill him. I have to admit it threw me for a loop. I'll even admit my mind switched off when I didn't get the story I'd betted on. I'm wrong about books quite often but usually I end up loving what the author gives me even more than what I thought I'd get...not the case here. I was thinking this would be another A Monster Calls but was sorely mistaken.

The story takes a different turn about halfway in, so the first half has a completely different feel than the uber sci-fi latter half, so if you can take it, great. Read it and see what you think, because to be honest I don't think I'm a good judge of this one.

Thoughts on the cover:
It's okay. Not Amazing, not horrible, and it works for the story.

1 comment:

  1. I read this book mostly during a flight from London to Brisbane but had a very different experience. I enjoyed the way the author describes the people and places in the book. From the first chapter. it is obvious that it is a fantasy and one of the attractions of the book for me is that it doesn't disappoint as it sudden;y takes an unexpected direction. A fantasy shouldn't be obvious or necessarily make sense - it wouldn't be a fantasy if it did. However, there was more than enough in it to make me think about the possibilities and what could be revealed in other stories based around the world of Billy Christmas. The fantasy revelation often lent itself to a different interpretation of something that took place earlier in the story. I guess if style is more important than content you'll never be able to see that.