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3.53 of 5 stars 3.53  ·  rating details  ·  1,098 ratings  ·  220 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
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
Kelly (and the Book Boar)
Find all of my reviews at:

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
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
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
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
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
Ringo The Cat
Even though Punkzilla received the Michael L. Printz award for Excellence in Young Adult Literature from the ALA, I was completely new to Adam Rapp and the reputation that preceded him. I didn’t have any expectations about this novel (thematically or otherwise), which I think is the best way to approach it if you really want to be smitten with it as I was.
The first thing that came to my mind was that it’s like reading a teenage version of Kerouac’s On the road. But then, I don’t actually like O
Jennifer Wardrip
Reviewed by Sally Kruger aka "Readingjunky" for

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
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
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
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
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
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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
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
Jun 09, 2015 Lexie added it
The second book I read in the past 6 weeks was called “Punkzilla” by Adam Rapp. I wanted to read this book because I randomly read the back of the book just and was immediately interested to continue reading. Reading about Jamie who would push himself to his limits to find his brother was amazing. Although I had never been in Jamie’s situation, I have two siblings, two younger brothers, and knowing that anything could happen to them made this book more relatable.
The book is based on a fourteen
Sidonie Gruenberg
For my independent reading book I chose “Punkzilla” by Adam Rapp. This story seemed appealing to me because when I read the back I was immediately intrigued. I was recommended this book by a friend, and within minutes, I was hooked. Following Jamie push himself to his limits in order to find his brother was truly inspirational. Even though I was not familiar with Jamie’s situation, I have two older brothers, and knowing that anything could happen to them put my problems in perspective.
The stor
Punkzilla by Adam Rapp undoubtedly has great merit. It follows a 14-year-old named Jamie, also called Punkzilla for his love of rap music, as he makes his way from Portland, Oregon to Memphis, Tennessee. The story is told through a series of letters, primarily from Jamie to his brother Peter, whom he calls P. Jamie was sent to military school because of his behavior issues—smoking, petty theft, and other assorted rebellions. He went AWOL from the school, moved to Portland, and joined a community ...more
Amy Snyder
I was hoping this book would be so much better since it was written by the brother of the man who stared in Rent. But sadly, it was a bit disappointing, and a bit boring. It is the tale of a young boy who has run away from military school to see his gay brother who is dying of cancer. Punkzilla was a troubled young man who was sent to military school by his father, the Major, because he was not successful in school and had been spending time smoking weed. His brother, who was gay and became a wr ...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.
I have to admit, I didn't realize that this was YA fiction until after I finished the book. It is possible that if I read the story through the lens of a teenager, it may have changed my impression of the book. I didn't love the story, nor did I hate it. The story is told through a series of letters between the main character, 14 year-old Punkzilla, and various members of his family. The letters weave together stories from Punkzilla's past, as well as his current attempt to hitch-hike across the ...more
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.
Janelle Pingol
This book is mad good and has some mad themes I shit you not. That was me trying to bite Jamie's style. Jamie is a 14yr. old boy who was sent to Buckner military school after getting caught smoking pot, stealing, and doing more shit that most curious young teens do. After running away from military school, he journeyed to Portland where he met his comrade Branson and started doing more shit that teenage boys do like getting a hand job, more "thieving", doing meth and being christened as "Punkzil ...more
Aug 25, 2009 Anina rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: teen
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
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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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