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3.49 of 5 stars 3.49  ·  rating details  ·  835 ratings  ·  196 reviews
An award-winning writer and playwright hits the open road for a searing novel-in-letters about a street kid on a highstakes trek across America.

For a runaway boy who goes by the name "Punkzilla," kicking a meth habit and a life of petty crime in Portland, Oregon, is a prelude to a mission: reconnecting with his older brother, a gay man dying of cancer in Memphis. Against a...more
Hardcover, 244 pages
Published May 12th 2009 by Candlewick Press
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I really enjoyed this story about 14-year-old Jamie’s journey from Oregon to Tennessee to see his dying older brother. Jamie’s story is told in letters – long, honest and revealing letters, mostly to and from his brother Peter. Jamie keeps his letters in a notebook that never leaves his sight, many of which are not mailed. These letters tell of his brief experience in a military academy, his demanding father and unhappy mother, his strait-laced brother, Edward, his petty thievery, drug use, ADD,...more
I’d basically like to hold this up to all those people in camp “YA has abandoned boys” as an example of how YA has…you know…not abandoned boys. Of course, that might be problematic because I’m pretty sure that that particular camp shares a lot of members with camp “YA is too dark.” And this book is plenty o’ dark. Or at least, it certainly contains the hallmarks of what those lovely campers like to label as “dark”. This book contains drug use, violence, sex, parental abandonment, cancer, and a v...more
I must give the full disclaimer here that the author, Adam Rapp, is my older brother, but that's not going to stop me from saying that I consider this to be his richest novel yet. As always, Adam unerringly captures the voices of his narrators (the book is a series of letters, most of which are written between two brothers), but in this novel he has reached his deepest level yet of compassion for all of the flawed and courageous and terrified characters he has created. I'm thrilled for his succe...more
Kelly (and the Book Boar)
Find all of my reviews at: http://52bookminimum.blogspot.com/

3.5 Stars

Jamie (a/k/a “Punkzilla”) has been on the run. Running from his past, running from his father, “the Major”, running from the boarding school he was sent to in Missouri. After being contacted by his dying brother, Punkzilla makes the decision to stop running and head to Memphis and see his brother before it’s too late.

What did I think of Punkzilla? Hmmmmmmmmmm . . .

Screw it – I’m writing this before my brain gets a chance to...more
I finished this one last night and my mental crickets are still chirping. I’m hoping writing this review will help me flesh them out. I loved the format. I’m a sucker for stories that are conveyed via letters and/or journal entries, as it leaves no room for vague. You are reading the ramblings of a characters mind, no analysis necessary. The downside to Punkzilla…his mind isn’t anywhere I would want to be. He really is a little punk, though his nickname is derived from his love of punk music, no...more
I've kinda found Rapp's other books to be a bit too gritty (and I like some gritty too) but this one I found just perfect. Jamie is 14 and has run away from military school and is living on the streets, basically, in Portland. As the book starts, he's coming down from some crystal meth and on his way, via Greyhound, to see his older brother before he succumbs to cancer.

I felt like I knew (or could know) these people. Mostly, I liked that the people most marginalized (other street kids, obviously...more
This new YA novel is the gripping story of 14 year old Jaime (known as Punkzilla, or P. to his friends) after he runs away from military school and travels across the country to see his dying older brother in Memphis. His brother is estranged from the rest of the family due to his homosexuality, but Punkzilla has a close connection with him and is racing to see him before his expected death to advanced cancer. The story is told in a series of letters from Punkzilla to his brother, some of which...more
Ryan Mishap
Anything with "punk" in it always grabs my eye at the library, so I picked this up as the jacket said that 14 year old Jamie (Punkzilla) writes letters to his brother--who is dying of cancer--while riding the Greyhound from Portland to Memphis. This book will get tons of shit if "concerned parents" ever get a hold of it.
Jamie starts by saying how burnt out he is because they did meth last night, then he tells about life in Portland: robbing joggers for their Ipods, getting handjobs from Buckto...more
Dyonte Hutchins
The book punkzilla is a fiction novel. Its about a 14 year old boy Jamie who is traveling from Oregon to Memphis to see his brother who is dying from cancer. On the way he goes through tough times and struggles on his journey.
I loved the book, it kept me interested and wanting to read more. On the other hand I didnt like some of the details in the book; such as the old man giving him a hand job in a motel. My favorite character was Jamie because this is the only character that was given a lot o...more
Jennifer Wardrip
Reviewed by Sally Kruger aka "Readingjunky" for TeensReadToo.com

Written as a series of long, descriptive letters, PUNKZILLA tells the story of a fourteen-year-old on a cross-country journey to visit his dying older brother.

Jamie (Punkzilla) is AWOL from military school. His father, a retired Major, convinced his mother that Buckner Military Academy would straighten out their youngest son. Jamie is the first to admit he was out-of-control. His ADD - combined with meth, pot, and drinking - had tur...more
Angela Bailey
Title / Author / Publication Date:
Punkzilla. / Adam Rapp. / 2009.

Genre: Young Adult Realistic Fiction.

Format: Book - print (epistolary novel). 256 pages.

Plot summary:
"As a runaway on the streets of Portland who sustains himself through petty crimes, a 14-year-old boy nicknamed Punkzilla decides to try to kick his meth habit and turn his life around; putting him on a cross-country, soul-searching journey to Tennessee to visit his older brother who is dying of cancer" (NoveList).

Considerations or...more
Adam Rapp hits the nail on the head again with Punkzilla. I wondered if he'd permanently lost his touch with Year of Endless Sorrow, but he's got it back. Punkzilla revists many of the things Rapp has written about in previous books: the military academy, intellectually precocious children, pedophilia, drugs, aimless wandering. The only thing missing were his gorgeous similies and believe me, I felt the loss.

The book consists of a series of letters concerning Jamie "Punkzilla," who went AWOL fro...more
Adele Griffin
Punkzilla is a really great ride across the country, but don't be fooled, it's not a straight road trip story. The voice is so sharp and fierce and funny that it becomes addictive, and the character is so real and lost and sweet that he becomes unforgettable.

(oblique spoiler alert)

I'm not sure I would have been so actively attempting to solve the question about whether these letters were getting out or not if it hadn't been the question posed on the flap copy, and I think that this might be a mi...more
4 1/2 stars. This is now my favorite book by this amazing writer, and it's knocking North of Beautiful off of my 2009favorites list. I love that Punkzilla/Jamie/James comes from a solidly middle class background, and how believable it is that he could end up on the street. Love his (literally) pain-filled road trip, and how one of the adult characters calls his own road trip a "thinking vacation". I've taken lots of those long driving trips where all you do is think, myself. I tried to start rea...more
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I always have to give props to a book told in letters that I didn't put down. BECAUSE I HATE THAT STYLE.

(And yet I'll get over it really quickly if I'm absorbed. So props!)

So heartbreaking, extremely spot-on voice, vivid pictures painted of all the people Jamie encountered. Wish some of them had been a bit less... well, a bit less.

I'm not entirely sure what I'm saying. I guess it's that at times this felt so scripted. This dramatic encounter means this which is symbolic of that which lends dra...more
This book would be the high school version of Heartbreaking Work of a Staggering Genius or Running With Scissors. It was so depressing, yet hard to put down. It also reminded me of Into the Wild. I guess I felt it was difficult to feel sorry for the main character when he was so bent on self-destruction. I know his parents were extreme, but he didn't have much in the way of a conscious. The redeeming characteristics were present in his letters to his brother, which were often hilarious and tragi...more
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mar 20, 2010 Karlan rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: ya
I must admit that I am a Rapp fan and have been since I saw an early play of his at NY Theater Workshop. This Printz honor book tells the story of a young teen on a road trip from Portland, OR to Memphis where his older brother is dying of AIDS. Surprisingly, the moneyless boy makes it there in one piece. The 14 year old's long continued letters to his brother tell his story with raw realism.
Apr 16, 2009 Barry added it
I think Rapp's writing is breathtaking; his use of language floors me. But I must admit I didn't love this novel wholeheartedly. I never made that deep emotional connection with Zilla. I think I kind of felt the hand of the author on the page, and so while I could appreciate it intellectually, I never completely believed enough to feel it.
This was the most real (for lack of a better term) teen book I have read in a long time. Running away, drug use, drinking and sex are real and gritty. Not overly gritty in a fake way. But not so smooth and shiny as in other books.

I know this review makes no sense.
Anina Ertel
I'd almost give it five stars. All his other books are 5 stars for me, but this one I liked just a little bit less.
Ms. Logan
Jamie, at 14, is trying to get from Portland (Oregon, not Maine) to Memphis to see his older brother, Peter, who is dying from cancer. After going AWOL from the Missouri military school where his parents sent him following some bad behavior, he managed to hitchhike to Portland and survive with the help of some friends and various illegal substances. After reaching out to his brother, who was shunned by his family because he is gay, Jamie learns of Peter’s illness. Punkzilla follows Jamie, throug...more
This was a very gritty read. Punkzilla is a kid named Jamie trying to make his way to Memphis to see his brother before he dies of cancer. The book is written in epistolary. Mostly it's letters that Jamie is writing to Peter but there are also letters from his parents and other brother Edward and a few other select people. He's been living on the streets since he ran away from a military academy his parents sent him to. Neither of the boys get along with their father. When Jamie lives on the str...more
Christina G
4.5 stars, rounding up to 5. I really adored this one - "Punkzilla" (AKA Jamie) has to be one of the most relatable characters I've found in YA fiction. The bulk of the book is in the form of letters from the young gutterpunk to his dying older brother, and the honesty in these letters is both gritty and beautiful.

Punkzilla is sometimes sexist, homophobic, transphobic, and racist, but (1), I think it makes the 14 y/o boy all the more believable and (2), his stereotypes were challenged right and...more
Punkzilla (Jamie) is on a journey from Portland to Memphis to visit his brother before he dies of cancer. The book takes the form of his journal written in a notebook and interspersed are letters from family and friends. Turns out that Punkzilla has a crazy past, from getting sent to military school, to running away to Portland and becoming a full-time thief and living a lifestyle that includes being practically homeless and doing meth.

His journey is just as crazy as he meets some very undesirea...more
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
This epistolary-style novel follows teenaged runaway, Punkzilla, as he travels across the country to see his dying brother. Most of the letters are from Punkzilla to his brother, describing his own reasons for leaving home and his life in Portland. His brother has been keeping his distance from the family ever since coming out to his homophobic parents. Punkzilla's life has been challenging too. His relationship with his family is strained as well; he has already been exiled to military school p...more
"Punkzilla" is a 2010 Honor Book for the Michael L. Printz Award for
excellence in Young Adult Literature.

Fourteen year old Jamie, aka "Punkzilla," has gone AWOL from the military boarding school he was sent to by his conservative, militaristic father and his ineffectual mother - in the hopes that he will shape up. From there he ends up in Portland, Oregon, living in a boarding house, one step from homelessness. The book is comprised of a series of letters that Jamie begins when he embarks on a...more
Any book with the line, "moving up the glorious ranks of the Nevada public school system" (p, 152) is OK in my book. I really liked this Punkzilla, but am having trouble explaining why. Perhaps it is because Jamie is as strong a voice as I've read in a while. Perhaps it is because there aren't any obvious emotional paths, but a series of strange events and queer - in every sense of the word - characters. Given the subject matter, it would have been easy for Rapp to conjure up a sentimental tear-...more
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1st Period Langua...: Punkzilla 1 2 Apr 03, 2014 03:28PM  
1st Period Langua...: book 2 citation 1 3 Apr 03, 2014 03:28PM  
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Adam Rapp says that when he was working on his chilling, compulsively readable young adult novel 33 SNOWFISH, he was haunted by several questions. Among them: "When we have nowhere to go, who do we turn to? Why are we sometimes drawn to those who are deeply troubled? How far do we have to run before we find new possibilities?"

At once harrowing and hypnotic, 33 SNOWFISH--which was nominated as a Be...more
More about Adam Rapp...
33 Snowfish Under the Wolf, Under the Dog The Year of Endless Sorrows Red Light Winter The Children and the Wolves

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P.S. I can't believe you're dying. Please don't die.”
“I asked her if she liked PJ Harvey and she said that she liked her old stuff mostly and that Uh Huh Her was pretty good too and then I tried not looking at her for a minute because she was starting to mad own my gaze like in a magnetic way and I didn't want to sweat her too much.” 0 likes
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