Heather's Reviews > Punkzilla

Punkzilla by Adam Rapp
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Apr 28, 10

bookshelves: ala-s-best-books, ya, 2010, printz
Read from April 16 to 27, 2010

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, not because he acts like a rat bastard.

Jaime is 13 and living the life of a runaway in Portland, Oregon. He has recently been in contact with his older brother Peter, who is coincidentally dying of cancer. Peter has requested Jaime visit him in Memphis, TN before he passes and in the interim, he wants a detailed description of Jaime’s life since he ran away from Buckner, the Military School he had been banished to, thus explaining why Jaime is writing a series of letters describing his every action prior to and since going AWOL.

Through these letters we learn that Jaime suffers from ADD, along with a meth addiction and an overall lack of conscience, imo. We are also provided with the familial circumstances that caused Jaime and Peter to feel disconnected from their parents and sibling, thus resulting in their breaking from the family unit. As Jaime travels across country, the letters begin to include descriptions of his present journey along with details of his colorful past.

The letters were incredibly well written, too well written in fact, for me to believe they could be written by a 13 year old. This made Jaime’s tale seem contrived, bordering on obscene, as Rapp clearly wrote this book for shock value’s sake. That’s just disgusting, especially when you read some of Jaime’s more morally ambiguous thoughts. While I have no doubt that there are young teens that must survive in similar means, I shudder to think their favorite pastimes would be similar in taste. Nonetheless, the ending made me cry, though I attribute that to Peter, as opposed to Jaime. Peter was a truly endearing, fascinating character and I would have much preferred this story to have been told from his POV. I would give Rapp props if I felt like this book wasn’t exploitive, but I do, so I won’t. Stick to playwriting Adam Rapp, or switch to adult fiction. I'm giving this one two stars in lue of none as the letters truly were well written and would have been captivating if they had come from a character slightly older, late teens perhaps.
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Comments (showing 1-8 of 8) (8 new)

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message 1: by Tatiana (new)

Tatiana 13 and already on meth?


Heather Yup and exploiting mentally challenged 24 year old women for blow jobs.


message 3: by Tatiana (new)

Tatiana Ewww. Some authors really go out of their way to push the envelope, don't they?


Heather Yes they do. I just thought that was in poor taste. I don't think a 13 year old boy would exploit someone 10 years his senior for a blow job.


message 5: by Tatiana (last edited Apr 28, 2010 10:25AM) (new)

Tatiana I am sure it is possible, but hardly applies to majority of the children. Why portray such a marginalized person, IDK. Only to shock?

P.S. I'll probably end up reading it eventually anyway:)


Heather I think he wrote this soley for the shock value, which I don't appreciate. I was holding out hopes that it would turn into a cautionary tale, but the ending drowns out any possiblity of that happening either, so yes, just to shock.


message 7: by Kate (new) - added it

Kate Character is 14, nearly 15, and has done meth but doesn't actually appear to be a habitual user.


Suzanne Peterson I've actually met quite a few 14/15 year olds like Jamie. The world isn't always as nice a place as we'd like it to be.


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