Jack Tumor by Anthony McGowan

Monday, January 25, 2010


Synopsis from Powell’s Books:

Hector is being hectored by an unlikely bully: a talking brain tumor. And it’s not just a talking brain tumor. It’s a know-it-all, pain-in-the-arse, jibber-jabbering brain tumor that names itself Jack, and insists on coaching Hector through life even as it’s threatening to take his life away. It’s a pretty good coach, actually. With Jack in control of Hector’s speech and brain chemicals, Hector suddenly finds himself with a cool haircut, a new fashion sense, and tactics for snogging previously unattainable hottie Uma Upshaw. But when Jack begins to force increasingly questionable decisions and behavior, Hector has to find a way to turn the tables – before it’s too late for both of them.

Seriously, how can you not be intrigued by a talking tumor? Jack Tumor is a riot with a British  sense of humor and it’s due, for the most part, to Anthony McGowan’s characterization. While Hector sees himself as a pathetic outcast, I found him to be a very caring, straightforward and likable kid with a lot of problems (besides the fact that he has a talking tumor growing in his head). In fact, Hector sums all his problems up very succinctly:

Problems! Where do I start? My mum was a hippie, my dad was nowhere, my school was a dung heap; I was bullied by Neanderthals and ignored by the girls, and my friends were the Wretched of the Earth.


Hector’s tumor while adding to his problems also begins to help him clarify life, and it is through this clarity that I learned that Hector really is a very decent young man. Despite Jack’s insistence that Hector go for the “babe” so he can shag her, Hector choose to be with a girl who he discovers he cares about on a more personal level. Jack also wants Hector to ditch his loser friends, but again Hector manages to maintain his friendships. Jack does help Hector overcome some of his greatest fears (I guess knowing you might be dead soon also helps). He stands up to the school bully and earns the respect of his classmates in the process, and he does it without resorting to violence and becoming a bully himself.

All in all, I really liked this book, and I think that it is a great guy’s read. Hector is a real character with flaws that make him very well rounded, and many of the internal conflicts Hector deals with are certainly conflicts most adolescent males face too.

3 Delicious Comments:

Carol J. Amato said...

Hmmm. This one has me thinking. Would I find cancer humorous...? I don't know. I've lost two sisters-in-law and my mother to the disease. I think this would be a tough one for me to read.

Jenn (Books At Midnight) said...

Lol, wow. This sounds like such a strange read, but I'm glad you liked it! The topic definitely sounds serious though, so I'll have to consider it before I check this one out. Thanks for the review! :)

Margaret Ann Abrahams said...

What a clever concept for a book. Great to come across your review. And, thank you so much for your thoughtful comment on my Spencer Quinn interview. I agree about the hug. Back to you.

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