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Boys of Blur

3.88  ·  Rating details ·  1,434 ratings  ·  322 reviews
Fans of Jerry Spinelli's Maniac Magee and Louis Sachar's Holes will enjoy this story about a boy and the ancient secrets that hide deep in the heart of the Florida everglades near a place called Muck City.

When Charlie moves to the small town of Taper, Florida, he discovers a different world. Pinned between the everglades and the swampy banks of Lake Okeechobee, the small t
Hardcover, 208 pages
Published April 8th 2014 by Random House Books for Young Readers (first published January 1st 2014)
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Average rating 3.88  · 
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 ·  1,434 ratings  ·  322 reviews

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I like a kid’s book with ambition. It’s all well and good to write one about magic candy shops or goofy uncles or simpering unicorns or what have you. The world is big and there’s room for every possible conceivable type of book for our children you can imagine. But then you have the children’s book authors that aim higher. Let’s say one wants to write about zombies. Well, that’s easy enough. Zombies battling kids is pretty straightforward stuff. But imagine the chutzpah it would take to take th ...more
G.M. Burrow
Dec 05, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, favorites
This book blurs. My heart is still sprinting. N. D. Wilson’s new story of boys, brothers, swamps, stink, muck, and monsters grips from the get-go and never lets up. Ever. It is scary fast. I sat down to read it and a few hours later—done. A little dizzy, but done. Some of Nate’s best prose yet is crammed into this breathlessly exciting mystery-adventure that openly and happily shoplifts all the best stuff out of Beowulf and is (so far) definitely the easiest of his to translate into a movie: com ...more
May 29, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: finished-in-2014, ya
Boys of Blur (now there's a word) is well-written in parts, give it that, but the well-written parts cannot salvage the whole. It is, in fact, a mish-mash that some readers will be perplexed by. Is it a realistic novel? It certainly begins as one. Boy (Charlie) moves to a Florida town with Mom who has married a new man while the old one's still about. As said town (Taper) is step-dad's (Mack) hometown, he is cued up to become the new football coach, replacing the recently-passed Coach Wisdom.

Benji Martin
Mar 05, 2014 rated it it was amazing
So I just finished an under 200 page book filled with swamp muck, high school football, dead bodies, an abusive father, human appendages nailed to walls and an awful stench that makes you hate everyone and everything, and the only word in my head after finishing the last page was "Beautiful." Only N.D. Wilson can do that. ...more
Mar 06, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I burned through this book--reading it the day it arrived. I've enjoyed every book Nate Wilson has written, so I knew I was in for treat. Boys of Blur exceeded my high expectations. A fantastic story with brilliant writing. ...more
Valerie Kyriosity
Jun 14, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Back in the early '90s, Eugene H. Peterson was my pastor for about five minutes. (I was in the last group of folks to join Christ Our King Presbyterian Church before he left. I don't think correlation indicates causation...) Gene's son once told him, "You only have one sermon"—an observation that Gene didn't take as a compliment. Sometime later, the son moved away to another state and started looking for a new church there. After visiting one congregation for a while, he switched to another. Why ...more
Barnabas Piper
Feb 17, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Another good one

Wilson always delivers and this was no exception. I'm always amazed by the vivid imagination and fantastical worlds he creates. So enjoyable.
Apr 29, 2014 rated it it was amazing
So a few weeks ago, I made this comment: "I just don't like middle grade books."

I think someone Up There heard me and put this book in my path. Because BOYS OF BLUR is one of the best books I've read this year and quite possibly the best MG book I've read ever.

I make the comment all the time that there is a class of YA Fiction that I call "sophisticated". Sure, there are plenty of fluffy and fun YA books, but there seems to be this class of books that is expertly crafted, gorgeous, and un-put-d
Jan 01, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: reviewed
By rights I should love this. Smart, complex middle grade fiction that defies genre classification! And yet: football.

I've always disliked football. I didn't realize how much that bled over into, say, fiction about football until I read Boys of Blur. It's not so much the football itself - well, it kind of is; the way football is used as a barometer for adulthood, or success, or being a good person. It rubs me the wrong way. It's an accurate reflection of life, but that's probably why it bothers
Aug 07, 2020 rated it really liked it
A retelling of BEOWULF set in "Friday Night Lights" country, and with a healthy dose of zombie lore . . . unusual, to say the least! Charlie is moving to the town where his stepfather, famous retired football player Prester Mack, grew up. But it's also the town where his own abusive biological father grew up . . . and still lives. But that's only the start of Charlie's problems.

I really loved the family dynamics in this: the fathers and stepfathers, mothers and foster mothers. I loved that Mack
Hannah Jayne
Oct 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Glad I don’t live next to a Florida swamp.

(Also, wish I could write in italics, because that’s the only way speed should ever be said again.)
Brandon Miller
Oct 02, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy
This book was a blur.
Emotions. Relationships. Really weird things happening that no one seemed to notice. (Seriously though, minor underreaction to the church thing.) Also football. Somehow that made it in there.
This book tricked me into feeling things I didn't want to feel. Anger. Envy. Condescension. Then is slapped me in the face with reality: those feelings lead to a logical conclusion. Sometimes it's brawling in the stands, sometimes it's Las Vegas (prayers for all affected), but those feel
Jul 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2020, 2019
Second read update: I adore this book.
Brandy Painter
Originally posted here at Random Musings of a Bibliophile.

have been a huge fan of N.D. Wilson's book since I read his first, Leepike Ridge. I pre-order his books as soon as I can and devour them all. I was so excited when I discovered he had a new stand alone, the first since Leepike Ridge, coming out this year. Then everyone else (who doesn't read their ARCs in order of publication date, or at least doesn't get as behind as I sometimes do) started singing its praises and my excitement and expe
Aug 12, 2018 rated it really liked it
my one complaint is that multiple characters were underdeveloped
Jan 10, 2015 rated it liked it
N.D. Wilson is an incredible writer- I would benefit from reading anything of his. That said, this Zombies-in-the-Swamp story was a little much for me. It must be a personal aversion- I'll take Orcs, Fangs, Witches, Goblins and Government-Workers any day, but Zombies fail to penetrate. But in this Wilson spoke true: Grace is greater than sin. And if there is any place in the south zombies are likely to show up, it's at the football game. ...more
Dec 06, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I started and finished it in one day. Its absolutely that good. They way N.D. captures the ethos of a place while also weaving in so many literary references and sensory experiences; it boggles the mind.

I like the way Mr. Wilson sees the world and recreates the world and I love the people who live there.

Superb story. Powerful writing. Wonderful characters.
Jul 28, 2018 rated it really liked it
I keep running into the Wilsons, but I never know what to make of them. Douglas and Nancy Wilson are very hit-and-miss with their "federalist" ways. But I LOVED "Loving the Little Years" by Rachel Jankovic, who turns out to be their daughter. Recently, I stumbled across the "What Have You" podcast (which I recommend), and whadaya know -- it's Rachel AND Rebekah. And everyone and their brother is reading books by ND Wilson these days -- turns out he's their son. Anyone ELSE I should know about?

May 12, 2018 rated it liked it
I was like, Oh, okay. Interesting.
Then I was like, Wait, what?
and then, What in the world. This world?
Then, hahahahahaha too much.
Processing... processing...
Then, Okay, I think I get it now.
Much wow.
Oh, who survived?
Sudden ending.
Back to "real" life.


Reminded me a but of Frank Peretti. Like, it's real world, but then monsters and scary and spiritual stuff, but we're still on earth. Though it's a place with crocodiles and fiery sugar cane fields, so Becky can't relate a
Maya Joelle
I read this almost five years ago and my biggest memory is of constant confusion. Running through sugarcane and football and two fathers and a monster and creepy rituals... yep, it's an NDW book.

Will reread and rethink my thoughts/rating.
Megan Miller
Sep 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I don't know. But I liked it. There was conflict and weirdness and sadness and forgiveness and anger and hate and love and friendship and family and basically all the necessary ingredients for a great story.
You should read it. It's weird. But it's great.
Shanshad Whelan
Jan 03, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Review originally posted at Views from the Tesseract:

What is it that makes a person a hero? In classic literature you rarely had to guess. The heroes were set out before you to defeat the challenges and villains before them. Beowulf, Arthur . . . these ancient heroes of old and the evils they fight are still familiar, still inform our culture. And they reappear in our stories, sometimes mere glimmers but still recognizable in form and action. Even in the
Feb 11, 2014 rated it really liked it
Source: Received from publisher

N. D. Wilson consistently defies the expectations associated with middle-grade fantasy. In his latest book, The Boys of Blur, he immediately subverts the genre by introducing not just a main character with a stable, loving family but one who forms part of a racially mixed family. Moments like those, moments when you know the author cares about reaching his or her audience and meeting them wherever they are at, whatever walks of life they are are travelling, are wha
Joshua Whiting
My review, posted on

Taper, Florida is a town filled with history and muck, sugar cane fields and football fields. It is the home town of both Charlie’s stepfather and his estranged and abusive biological father, but Charlie is there for the first time in his life to attend the funeral of the legendary high school football coach with his stepfather. He is a little bit afraid to run across his biological father. Instead, with his newfound
Jun 07, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
This book was fun, scary, and exciting. I stayed up late because I wanted to finish it~:-) Wilson's fiction comes across as unnecessarily dark to me. He believes in the light and in goodness and in right being strong...but he mentions good so infrequently compared to the time he gives evil. If a reader did not have a Christian worldview (or even a strong theology of God), I wonder if they would not recognize the hat tip Wilson gives to what is right and true. {Or, maybe, I am used to literature ...more
Kyle Rapinchuk
Jun 27, 2016 rated it liked it
I read this book with my son, and while there are some interesting themes and plot, I thought some of the themes were too quickly introduced and not fully developed. For example, a great deal is made early on about Charlie's abusive father and excellent step-father, but I didn't think the the redemptive theme in either case was explored as well as it could have been. Moreover, the depiction of evil in this story did not take on for me a clear picture. I sensed more of a generic darkness than a s ...more
Dec 30, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Yet another triumph by one of my favorite authors. Will the awesomesauce ever end? I sure hope not. ND Wilson's writing is so rich. And I don't mean simply his allusions to ancient history or jabs at heavy British novels. Boys of Blur horrifically portrays the radical corruption of man- man is born to trouble as the Sparks fly upward. We die by living, and yet we live by dying. One, however, cannot truly grasp this author's cadence until he grasps The Author's creed. ...more
Apr 10, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Can a book about fast boys and swamps and monsters be beautiful? Yes, and this is a beautiful book. The writing is amazing... and I lingered over every line.

This books makes me want to read Beowolf again. How many young adult books make you want to read Beowolf?

Love, love, love...

Feb 14, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-aloud
Tighter, clearer, and (ironically) less breathless than his some of his more frenetic fiction-- this is good ND, including some of the best elements from his fantasies, but hearkening back to the neatness and readability showcased by Leepike.

Also (note to all) ND's writing is best read out loud.
Matt Pitts
May 16, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-aloud
This was my second time through. First time was May 2014. I wanted to read it again to enjoy the Beowulfishness of it. It was worth it. Great story.

Update: now my third time, but first time reading it to y oldest boy. Still so good. And it set him up perfectly for giving Beowulf a try together.
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