Wednesday, August 23, 2017

The Tragic Age by Stephen Metcalfe

Title: The Tragic Age
Author: Stephen Metcalfe
Format: Hardcover, 320 pages
Pub. Date: March 3rd 2015
Source: Won

Book Description:

This is the story of Billy Kinsey, heir to a lottery fortune, part genius, part philosopher and social critic, full time insomniac and closeted rock drummer. Billy has decided that the best way to deal with an absurd world is to stay away from it. Do not volunteer. Do not join in. Billy will be the first to tell you it doesn’t always work— not when your twin sister, Dorie, has died, not when your unhappy parents are at war with one another, not when frazzled soccer moms in two ton SUVs are more dangerous than atom bombs, and not when your guidance counselor keeps asking why you haven’t applied to college.
Billy’s life changes when two people enter his life. Twom Twomey is a charismatic renegade who believes that truly living means going a little outlaw. Twom and Billy become one another’s mutual benefactor and friend. At the same time, Billy is reintroduced to Gretchen Quinn, an old and adored friend of Dorie’s. It is Gretchen who suggests to Billy that the world can be transformed by creative acts of the soul. 

With Twom, Billy visits the dark side. And with Gretchen, Billy experiences possibilities.Billy knows that one path is leading him toward disaster and the other toward happiness. The problem is—Billy doesn’t trust happiness. It's the age he's at. The tragic age.

Stephen Metcalfe's brilliant, debut coming-of-age novel, The Tragic Age, will teach you to learn to love, trust and truly be alive in an absurd world.



I really wanted to like this book, but I ended up not being a fan of it. I love a good coming of age story, but this one just didn't click with me. I didn't relate to a lot of characters, which made me struggle to finish it.

I started off really liking the main character, Billy. I appreciate that he's sarcastic and a smart ass, because I myself am both of those things. But his personality, the more I read, turned to being abrasive and annoying. He's not a person I'd want to spend a lot of time with. But, at least he was well developed. I give him that. Comparatively, the other characters fall flat, and seem to be there only to move along Billy's plot. I couldn't tell you much about them.

What turned me off of this book the most was the stereotypes. The Latina female is portrayed as slutty. There's smart Asians. There's some definite slut shaming and other things that are not part of the plot: these are not things we will learn to overcome through evolution of the characters. I don't want that in a book, and especially a coming of age story aimed at teens.

I did appreciate Billy's pop culture/topical references, but I feel like it'll date the book in the future.

This isn't a book I'd recommend.


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