(or 70,000 light years)
This book was originally published as Gridzbi Spudvetch!, or that was an earlier version of the book published in 1993. Unlike most books that are republished after the author achieves a level or notoriety or fame that should have stayed unpublished, this one is a phenomenal book. There is an interesting preface in which Haddon says not to name a book Gridzbi Spudvetch because no one knows how to pronounce it nor will they buy it. He also talks about wanting to update the book and how when working on it he changed nearly every sentence, updating and improving the story. If that is the case, he did an amazing job.
The story is told from Jimbo's perspective; he is telling the story of his friendship, and the strange things he and his friend discover. And it all starts because his older sister tries to put one over on him, by making him think he is going away to a school for dummies. The inside cover of the book states: "It was a stupid, insane, suicidal idea. Which makes it quite hard to explain why I decided to help. I guess it boils down to this. Charlie was my best friend. I missed him. And I couldn't think of anything better to do. Really stupid reasons which were never going to impress the police, the headmistress or my parents. Looking back, I reckon this was the moment when my whole life started to go pear-shaped." This is a story about aliens, it is a story about growing up, it is a story about families but most of all it is a story about friendship. It was a light, easy read, the prose flowing smoothly and effortlessly. I read it in two sittings, and enjoyed it so much I am going to track down the original version to do a comparison. It is a wonderful book for adults, or teens.