Monday, June 9, 2008

Truancy by Isamu Fukui

iconiconI first heard about Truancy by Isamu Fukui on NPR a couple of weeks ago. There are two stories about the novel and its teenaged author on NPR: Student Chronicles High School Misery in 'Truancy' and Teenage Author an Inspiration to Peers. I highly recommend listening to both radio spots.

Having been 14 when I wrote my first novel, I have a lot of respect for Fukui's vision — not to mention for the fact that he was able to follow through and get his novel published as a teen (with the help and encouragement of his dad, it sounds like). However, I think it's also pretty obvious in the novel that he is a teen, so don't expect the work of a child prodigy!

Two things I noticed that betrayed Fukui's age and lack of experience as a writer:

* He uses a lot of adverbs. And I mean a lot. Most books on writing fiction advise against using them at all when you can help it, and although I don't tend to agree with that hardline approach, there are parts of Truancy where I had to laugh at the use of adverbs.

* The main pacifist, and really the hero of the book, is Fukui's first name spelled backwards: Usami. It's a clever way of reminding the reader that Fukui is trying to send a message about how futile violence is, but it's also very transparent, and kind of egotistical in a teenaged kind of way.

Those caveats aside, Truancy is an engaging, yet thought-provoking, read. I would highly recommend it to both teens and adults!

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