Friday, 26 August 2011

Theodore Boone - John Grisham (#1)

This is a very different type of book from most YA fiction. John Grisham is known for writing gritty legal dramas for adults in crime, but this one is completely different, where it's aimed at young people or teenagers instead. I think this is what attracted me as it's so far away from his normal literature. And I wanted to know about Theo.

Synopsis: In the small city of Strattenburg, there are many lawyers, and though he's only thirteen years old, Theo Boone thinks he's one of them. Theo knows every judge, policeman, court clerk—and a lot about the law. He dreams of being a great trial lawyer, of a life in the courtroom. But Theo finds himself in court much sooner than expected. Because he knows so much—maybe too much—he is suddenly dragged into the middle of a sensational murder trial. A cold-blooded killer is about to go free, and only Theo knows the truth.
The stakes are high, but Theo won't stop until justice is served.

Review: This is such an original storyline and crime and murder trials are something I love to read about, mostly because you don't see many around that are really recommended or aimed at younger people. The legalities and the trial details are so complicated and confusing, many authors may be afraid to touch the topic for YA, especially if the reader is clueless to the legal system. 
Now, I know some bits and pieces that I have picked up from History and TV shows on law, the basics. But I know nothing about American courts, which is where the book is set and I've heard it very different from England (although, I have no idea if that is true). This is one thing John Grisham did extremely well. The details of how it works is fed throughout the first half of the book, normally when Theodore is explaining it to another character. He says it simply and clearly without a bunch of smart sounding words that have no meaning to the likes of a teenager. I, now, know a lot more about the US judgement system, which makes me feel quite clever.

I liked the writing as well, as it flowed so well and wasn't packed full of fancy words, but not too simply either. I never found it boring or tedious and I understood what was happening all the time.
Mostly, I didn't find it boring but there were times during the description of the trial when things kept being repeated over and over again (which was a tad annoying) that I had to stop reading for a couple of minutes and then continue again. I know in a real trial, details of the crime are repeated hundreds of times, but in a book where you can change reality, it's tedious. It really shows that you have to be dedicated to be a lawyer, to be interesting in it - something I shall NOT do. 
My only other critism is the unknown witness. Yeah, I know why you didn't come forward but I'm sorry, one minute he's revealing how he can't come forward yet he wants to, then a couple of chapters later, he's saying he doesn't care if the KILLER GOES FREE when he knows he did it. Just a bit weird for me.

I liked the Boone family in general, especially Theo and this dog, Judge (who is like a boy trapped in a dog's body). Theo seems so innocent as a 13 year-old boy yet he knows so much about law and how is works - more than a boy of that age should be allowed to know really. He is funny, charming and entertaining for the reader. His friends and family are equally although I found 'Mr Boone' a bit...well he doesn't say much really. 
Theo seems in much ways younger than 13 with how innocent and naive he is portrayed but then, older in others - because of his knowledge. 
With the characters, I didn't really see the point of April, his supposedly best friend, as she's only in a handful of pages, while in the middle of her parents divorce, which I thought Theo would be involved in really. It just seemed strange she wasn't in it that much.

I ended the book feeling deflated. I enjoyed the book so much and engaged with it so much that I needed to know what happened. What would happen? Would the witness stand? Would the murderer be guilty or not? 
Oh. It stops with Theo coming back to school after a view of the trial and being asked to help with legal affairs for a teacher. It's like someone cut the end off with a knife. So I was disappointed with it, a bit bewildered with an end where the loose ends were not sewn together. 
Until Monday when I went to the library. And found the sequel to this book and realised why I the loose ends were not sewn neatly. They were awaiting a sequel all about April. Brilliant.

Overall, the book is great, so unique and engaging and really makes you feel an expert in the world of law yourself. You join with Theo and are made to think the opposite to the truth before thrown back into a different judgement all together. This is an amazing first YA novel for John Grisham and I look forward to more to come.
Verdict: Give it a read if you already know some bits of law, and don't get put off by the end!

I give it a 4.5 out of 5

Author's Website:
Pages: 263
Publisher: Hodder
Challenges: None 


  1. I'm so happy you've read this book, Rebecca! Everyone else thought I was really weird... Well, they're missing out. I actually love this book. The Abduction is very very good too and you have to read it as soon as possible so I can rant at you about it! Love George :)

  2. The Abduction is an excellent follow up to Theodore Boone: Kid Lawyer. Grisham has a unique ability to express his stories from the viewpoint of a youngster. I got an extra copy of Kid Lawyer for my ten-year old grandson, and he loved it.


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