The Twelve-Fingered Boy

February 19, 2018 at 6:00 pm (Reads) (, , , )

twelveThe Twelve-Fingered Boy by John Hornor Jacobs

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Shreve Cannon is a big-wig in juvie. He’s the connection if you want candy, and he knows how to use people’s sweet teeth to get what he wants. That all changes, though, when Jack, the new kid, shows up. He seems to be the usual newbie, crying at night and keeping to himself, but Shreve figures he’s something special because of his twelve fingers. And then there’s the thing that happens when Jack gets angry.

The premise isn’t anything new, but Jacobs brings a new voice to this kind of story, through Shreve. He’s a standard juvie/jail tough guy, at least as much as his front will allow. He winds up being more compassionate and sympathetic than one would expect, since his tough guy image is related to his position as the candy supplier. He still talks like a tough guy, though, and he serves as the narrator, which makes it a little difficult to get into the story, since his voice can be off-putting.

Jacobs also makes the story bigger than just Jack and Shreve, but what sells the story is the relationship between the two boys. It’s a coming-of-age story set against the background of developing powers, those powers serving as a metaphor for developing into the adult they will become. It’s a compelling story, with strong characterization, and even if parts of the story seem like they’re heavily borrowed from Dan Simmons’ Carrion Comfort, it’s unique enough to stand on its own.

This is the first book in a trilogy, though, so be forewarned that the story Jacobs is writing is larger than the one that exists in this book. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but just know going into the story that you won’t get all your questions answered here. Jacobs raises a lot of them, so it’s best to be prepared going forward.

Started: December 1, 2017
Finished: December 3, 2017

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