Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Review: The Alex Crow by Andrew Smith

Firstly, thanks to Hardie Grant Australia for this review copy <3


Date Read: August 21 - 29 2015
Date Released: May 2015
Publisher: Hardie Grant Egmont
Source: Review copy via publisher
Genre: Sci-fi
My Rating:

"Ariel, the sole survivor of an attack on his village in the Middle East is ‘rescued’ from  the horrific madness of war in his homeland by an American soldier and sent to live with a family in suburban Virginia. And yet, to Ariel, this new life with a genetic scientist father and resentful brother, Max, is as confusing and bizarre as the life he just left.

Things get even weirder when Ariel and Max are sent to an all-boys summer camp in the forest for tech detox. Intense, funny and fierce friendships are formed. And all the time the scientific tinkerings of the boys’ father into genetics and our very existence are creeping up on them in their wooden cabin, second by painful second . . ."


The only thought I had after finishing The Alex Crow was this: well thank God that’s over. I regret reading this book. It was honestly the biggest waste of my time. Two emotions dominated whilst reading: confusion and/or boredom.

The book is actually told from three perspectives – the majority of which by a boy named Ariel who is an orphan as a result of war in the Middle East and gets adopted by an American. The other perspectives are from an insane guy (the ‘melting man’), and the journal entries of a doctor on an expedition on a ship called the Alex Crow in the 1800s. I swear this was so confusing when I was reading from Ariel’s perspective and then suddenly it switches to some guy who is driving and thinks Joseph Stalin is talking to him, then switch again to some dude stuck on a ship in the 1800s. I. Just. Don’t. Care.

I felt that Ariel was more an impartial narrator telling someone else’s story than his own. He was so detached from everything I couldn’t relate to him. He actually went through some awful stuff but the way it was written (while eliciting disgust on my end) didn’t trigger any emotions from me. You could say maybe it was because he was numb to it all, but I say he was unrelatable. It was like he didn’t care… But he did. Ariel had all these repressed feelings that I thought could have been portrayed in a way that appealed to the reader but still be distant to his peers in the story. Sorry kiddo I feel nothing for you.

Anyway, he’s stuck in Camp Merrie-Seymour for Boys with his adopted brother and the camp is run by the company their dad works for. Their parents shoved them there because it’s free but it’s actually a camp for boys who are addicted to games/technology. So we’ve got Ariel, his brother Max, and this other boy named Cobie who are the only normal teenagers in this whole camp of boys who are so far gone they stick toilet paper in their ears to block out reality and pretend to have earbuds in. WTF? That’s the jist of it. I was dying of boredom. Sure there was some male bonding between these guys but I swear it was just a bunch of teenage boys swearing and obsessed with jerking off. Like every second sentence out of Max’s mouth was related to this. Out of all these 277 pages, the only interesting person was Cobie. I actually really liked this kid. He had substance with his humour and knowledge of the outdoors. But even Cobie couldn’t save this book from ultimately being doomed.

There’s sci-fi in this too. Weird, suicidal crows that were extinct but brought back to life, drones, and a research company obsessed with all of this and more. Are you weirded out yet? Because if you aren’t, maybe this book is for you!

My problem with this book was that it could have worked and that’s what is so disappointing. The way Smith set this up, it could have gone really well or really badly. For me, The Alex Crow just missed the mark. From the beginning, I was waiting for everything to come together (I mean, there HAD to be a point to three random perspectives right?) but at the rate it was all going I wasn’t sure it ever would. The pacing was unbearably slow so that when the light bulb did go off for me, it was too late. I’d already given up on the story, gotten bored and was just reading to get it over with. The problem was that the revelations came too late, the confusing bits too heavy from the beginning and not having enough time to properly work the clues in. It was 75% confusion and then 25% dump telling me how everything fit together.

Ohmygod what even is this review. It’s as confusing as the book itself. And no, your brain can’t possibly hurt as much as mine.


  1. ouch... I do like the look of the cover though ;p

    1. Nah man don't do it. And birds... EW :(

  2. Thank God it wasn't just me. I feel bad for saying I didn't like Ariel as a character, but he was just utterly boring. ANd it was so...confusing. I hate being confused by books, haha.

    1. Ohmygod Emily I thought it was just me too then I saw your review on GR and I was like PHEWWWW. Ariel was so bland like honestly the kid had no character. I hate being confused too!