Sunday, August 14, 2011

It's Kind of a Funny Story

It's Kind of a Funny Story
Author:   Ned Vizzini
Age genre:  Young Adult Fiction
Release date: May 1st 2007

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Craig is your typical over-performing student who works his ass off to get into a prestigious high school in Manhattan. He even goes so far as to buy the "official" workbooks, hire a tutor (for a pricey 700 bucks) and...studies with flash cards everywhere he goes. Obviously, people aren't going to want to stick around a study-freak like him. But he doesn't care, all he wants is to get into the Executive Pre-Professional High School in Manhattan. This is yet another stepping stone in his plan to succeed in life. The School. The University. The Job. And then of course, the perfect family/wife. Hell, President of the US of A doesn't sound so bad either.

Then there's this other guy at his school, Aaron. Like Craig, he also aspires to get into that same High School but unlike him, Aaron doesn't even make an effort.  He just chills.

Needless to say, when the results come out, both of them make it. Two polar opposites, end up gaining entry to the top high school around. This is the first strike for Craig's psyche and mental wellbeing. Aaron and Craig start officially hanging out. Aaron hosts a party at his place to celebrate their entry into the prestigious school. It is also where Craigh meets Nia, a Chinese (with mixed blood) girl who (surprise!) also got into the school. Even though they're both attracted to one another, Aaron ends up making the first move and getting the girl. Strike Two. The cool guy gets the girl and pretty much everything else.

So after gaining entry to the top school where former students almost always make it big (think big-named politicians, rich bankers and famous tech-start-up millionaires) and subjects taught include Wall Street Investing, one would think that the rest of the road would pretty smooth and hassle-free. You'd be wrong. After getting in with a perfect score on the entry exam, Craig thought he was among the cream of the crop.  He was dead wrong. Compared to the elite, he's just your average albeit hardworking student who managed to do well in an average school. Heck, even the 87s he scores in his exams are still nowhere near as good as the perfect 100s everyone else scores. 

So he starts stressing out. He tries to stop caring about doing as well (as everyone else). But it doesn't work. Because he HAS to do well in order to get the "Life" he wants but he can't compete with all those geniuses who are good at pretty much everything; the academic and social aspects of school. This is the tipping point where he starts breaking down and having anxiety attacks (throwing up his food/massive loss of appetite/suicidal thoughts). Somehow he ends up in the psychiatric ward of the local hospital.

Cover:  7
Characters: 8
Story: 8

Overall:  8/10
This is  a very interesting novel because like his other book, "Be More Chill", Ned Vizzini managed to craft a story where his targeted audience can relate to the main character. Everyone can see something of themselves in Craig and what he went through in life. This is what makes this book so GREAT. Instead of your typical YA novel where the characters are so outstanding and infallible, where they live through events that could never happen to your average teenager; It's Kind of A Funny Story amazingly got the formula right. It's easy to imagine that he could be you or someone you know. Someone who tried their best, and then found out that it wasn't enough (compared to certain people), and went through despair as they tried to figure out what to make of these challenges in life where the pressure to do well is overwhelming. I totally recommend this book for any young readers out there who are tired of the cliched YA books where everything works out fine or the characters get a magical solution pop out of nowhere to save the day.