Tatiana's Reviews > Tales of the Madman Underground

Tales of the Madman Underground by John Barnes
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's review
Jan 17, 2012

really liked it
bookshelves: printz, 2012, ya
Recommended to Tatiana by: Thomas Tomato
Recommended for: fans of "Spectacular Now," "Sorta Like a Rockstar," Gary D. Schmidt
Read from January 14 to 16, 2012

As seen on The Readventurer

At first, this books is hilarious, then it is sad, heartbreaking and scary and later it is inspiring. To think of it, my favorite kind of book.

Karl Shoemaker is determined to start his senior of high school being completely "normal." After spending years in mandatory group therapy with other madmen (abused, traumatized and plain crazy kids) after a disturbing rabbit killing incident, Karl for once wants to separate himself from the mad group and be a part of the "normal" school population. But can he have any claim to normality though? With 5 jobs, house full of cats and a "super super lady" mother who is constantly drunk and doped up, who brings a new boyfriend every night and steals Karl's hard-earned money to buy booze and pot? Hm, maybe not.

I'll be frank, there were a few times while reading this novel when I caught myself thinking - isn't it a bit over the top? can it really happen like this? can these things go on and no adult cares? Karl's fellow madmen are a messed-up bunch indeed - a molested cheerleader, an emotionally unstable farmboy/jock, a batshit crazy girl who talks through her toy rabbit and who attempted to blind her younger brother, a gay boy who resorts to turning tricks when things at home are rough. But. But. But. There is so much color in these character, so much vibrancy, there is so much humor in Karl's foul-mouthed, horny, profane narrative, that I found myself overlooking the soapy parts of it.

Every year Printz committee searches for new and unique voices in YA literature. Sometimes I dislike what they unearth and celebrate. But Karl Shoemaker and his Tales of the Madman Underground: An Historical Romance 1973 will stay with me for awhile.
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Reading Progress

01/14 page 40
8.0% "This is funny"
01/16 page 312
59.0% 2 comments
02/18 marked as: read
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Comments (showing 1-10 of 10) (10 new)

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Tatiana Thomas wrote: "it's got a bit of a Sorta Like a Rock Star vibe, doesnt it?"

Yes, and it reminded me of Gary D. Schmidt's work as well.

Tatiana It is also kind of like The Spectacular Now.

Catie Sold.

Tatiana Catie wrote: "Sold."

I was about to send you this rec:)

Catie It sounds like something I would really like.

message 6: by Bingofish (new) - added it

Bingofish This sounds really interesting. Will have to put it on my ever growing to-read list...

message 7: by Jessica-Robyn (new)

Jessica-Robyn I'm not totally sure that this would be something I would love but it's always nice to step outside of my zone and try something fresh.

Sorta Like a Rock Star is also definitely added to my list.

Tatiana You can always get a taste of it via Google Preview, to see if the writing style works for you.

message 9: by Jessica-Robyn (new)

Jessica-Robyn Thanks for the advice! I don't normally preview books before I read them so I've only read a small part but it seems really interesting. :)

Noelle Oh, Karl Shoemaker. I seriously adore him. Great review, Tatiana.

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