So far I've only read two reviews of this book - one loved it, one found it irritating. I'm going with loved it. Yes, there does seem to be a trend in books to have children or child-like narrators. Yes there's also a trend in having stories with high functioning autistic characters. But I didn't find this story unoriginal, or a copy of an idea. I found it page turning, easy to read, and very heart-warming. And you know something, heart-warming ISN'T a criticism, despite what professional critics may have you believe ;)
Max struggles at school. He is bright and intelligent, but socially inept. He has no friends - and he doesn't desire friendship. He reads, he writes, he plays with his lego and toy soldiers but struggles to play catch with his dad. Max's mother worries about Max, but his father is convinced - or tries to convince himself -that Max is just a 'late bloomer'.
Max has Budo - his imaginery friend, and it is Budo who tells the story. So we see life through Budo's eyes. Budo's knowledge of the world and how it works is learned from Max, Max's parents, his beloved teacher Mrs Gosk, and Budo's night life. Because Max never imagined Budo sleeping, Budo doesn't. When Max is asleep, Budo visits the hospital and the gas station - places which also don't sleep. These places play an important part in the story when something terrible happens to Max, and it is up to Budo to figure out how to save his beloved "imaginary" friend.
I don't usually read books with autistic characters, because I read to get away from my world - the motehr of an autistic child. But there is a wonderful passage where Budo celebrates Max's bravery at getting up every day to face a world that wants to change him, that is uneasy with him and sometimes cruel to him. I've often felt that about my own child, who is low functioning compared to Max, but the author put it into words so much better than I could :)