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The Quiet Boy

3.71  ·  Rating details ·  218 ratings  ·  46 reviews
From the bestselling author of Underground Airlines and Golden State, a sweeping legal thriller about a sixteen-year-old who suffers from a neurological condition that has frozen him in time, and the team of lawyers, doctors, and detectives who are desperate to wake him up.

Wesley Keener lies in bed: not dead, not alive, not in a coma or vegetative state, but simply fro
Hardcover, 448 pages
Published May 18th 2021 by Mulholland Books
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Average rating 3.71  · 
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Jun 12, 2021 rated it liked it
Put down the bourbon, pick it back up, and listen to the full pod here.

Some novels are greater than the sum of their parts. Others, unfortunately, have great parts but never coalesce into a great work. In my opinion, The Quiet Boy is an example of the latter.
I loved many of the parts of this book. The lead, Jay Shenk, is a “Better Call Saul” variant, a loveable hustler who believes equally in money and the people he is defending. Both ways is the only way I want it, in other words. When Wesley
Jessica Woodbury
I am familiar enough with Ben H. Winters now (this is my 5th book of his) to know what to expect. There will be a mystery that will deeply wrap you up in its characters, but it'll also be a world that is not the same as ours in significant ways (like it's about to be destroyed by a meteor, for example). But this book is the closest to normal reality that Winters has gotten so far, so much so that when the speculative element showed up I was a little surprised. His reality is so real that I forgo ...more
Lisa Wolf
This legal/medical thriller kept me turning the pages, but now that I’m done, I feel like I have more questions than answers.

In The Quiet Boy, we follow two timelines: In 2008, a high school boy named Wesley comes out of brain surgery in an unheard-of state: He walks endlessly around his hospital room, eyes open but unseeing, appearing to be “hollowed out”, no one home, no ability to interact or change. In 2019, Wesley’s father has just been arrested for the murder of the expert witness in the f
May 28, 2021 added it
Shelves: abandoned
This despite loving the Last Policeman series by Winters is a DNF for me.

The plot twists are so confusing and the court scenes just too obtuse for me to slog through any longer. I got past all that but still can't find the thread of where these characters continue.

The premise is excellent, quizzical and it's me and this style that clash. Half the time I don't know what Shenk the pronoun refers to or about a fourth of the time who is even talking. They are all so glib and after returning to the b
...more Mystery & Thriller
THE QUIET BOY is a haunting work that sinks its hook into readers from the first page and never lets go, even after the story has ended. Author Ben H. Winters is primarily known for his works of speculative fiction, particularly his Last Policeman trilogy. He stretches his considerable talent even further in this atmospheric, genre-blurring tale that is by turns mysterious, puzzling and ultimately frightening.

The book ping-pongs back and forth between 2008 and 2019. It is told in a third-person
Jun 23, 2021 rated it really liked it
I always enjoy Ben Winters' writing style. This one reminded me of sort of a cross between Stephen King and John Irving. I found both of the lead characters, Jay and Ruben, to be lovable in their own ways. There's a sense of dread throughout, as you find out right away that things went horribly wrong 10 years ago, and then it's a question of finding out how that happened, as well as what's going on in the present. Personally, though, it wrapped up in a way that made it bearable for me. ...more
Kim Lockhart
May 09, 2021 rated it really liked it
Thank you to Mulholland Press for an ARC for this book, in exchange for an honest review

At first, this appears to be a straightforward courtroom drama. That is, until the ground shifts, and the esoteric elements of the story suddenly arise, in a haze of mystery.

At the heart of the novel, is the tender care Winters takes with his characters. They may not always know who they are, or what their purpose is in this life, but they know how they feel. Emotional connection is the touchstone in an uns
Dan Trefethen
Jun 03, 2021 rated it really liked it
Shelves: science-fiction
You might think that the central concern of this book is the mysterious brain ailment that affects Wesley, causing him to pace around relentlessly. The ailment seems supernatural, as he never tires, never sleeps, never eats, but never loses weight. And while it leads an interesting idea about the nature of reality, that's not the main concern.

The main concern is family. It's about Wesley's family, the mother who struggles to find answers and care for her son, the father who clams up with furious
May 31, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
I usually don't read legal thrillers, but I think I'm going to make an exception from now on for Ben H. Winters.
This was a fantastic read. From the seemingly sleazy lawyer to his stubborn clients to his quiet son, the characters really set the pace. The premise itself seems pretty straightforward -- a lawyer decides to represent a family whose son winds up a walking corpse after emergency surgery. However, it's not the simple. The story then splits off into two timelines: the timeline of the ca
Khris Sellin
Jun 23, 2021 rated it really liked it
This was a gripping and fascinating read, a real page-turner, that ended up falling flat for me. Disappointing, but still a fun ride while it lasted.
Wesley Keener is a 16-year-old high school kid -- musician, athlete, all-around good guy, fun to be around. After a freak accident, he's left with a bizarre neurological malady that leaves him frozen at 16 forever, walking in circles, 24/7. No eating, no sleeping, no responsiveness. There are a few mysteries here -- what is this condition? How did i
May 30, 2021 rated it it was ok
What do you say about a story that asks you to suspend disbelief to this extent? A teen-age boy hits his head and sustains critical brain injury, which results in his simply walking around in a big circle with a vacant stare-----for over ten years. He doesn't speak or react to anything or anyone. He neither eats, nor drinks, nor defecates, nor urinates.

The main story follows the medical malpractice case against the hospital, which is as unrealistic as the rest of the book. Then there's a subplo
Mark Richardson
Jun 12, 2021 rated it it was amazing
The Quiet Boy is a satisfying blend on genres: mystery, legal drama, detective story, and sci-fi. At its core, the book is a magical realism family drama, a story that brought to mind something you might see penned by an author like Aimee Bender (think The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake). I’m a sucker for left-of-center speculative fiction, and this story was right up my alley. But what really kept me engaged sentence-to-sentence was the writing. The prose positively sparkled, and the descript ...more
Jun 04, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Ben Winters' books are always so odd, set in world's where something very different has happened in the world (pending asteroid strike, everyone in California must tell the truth at all times...). This one was different - only one small change, and the effect is has on two different families. ...more
Least Torque
May 28, 2021 rated it it was ok
Shelves: fiction
Good writing, interesting story and characters, compassionate. But a few things bothered me along the way and it didn’t quite work for me in the end.
Allen Adams
Jun 23, 2021 rated it it was amazing
When the inexplicable occurs, who bears the blame?

That’s one of the central questions in “The Quiet Boy,” the new novel from Ben H. Winters. It’s a bifurcated story – on one side, a medical mystery, on the other, a capital murder case – where both tales are connected through time by a tragic event that ultimately proves damaging to two different families.

Winters has never been one to be bound by genre constraints, so it’s no surprise to see the author venturing in a different direction. Here, he
Mar 27, 2021 rated it really liked it
The kind of book that makes you burst into tears at the end. This is the third Ben Winters novel I've read, and although every book is marked with the author's deep care for his characters, The Quiet Boy, more than the rest, is suffused with love. Not only the author's love for his characters, but the characters' love for each other, and a kind of meta-love and kindness and generosity for people in their everyday weakness and strength. Oh, and there's a mystery. And spooky supernatural stuff. Bu ...more
Jun 02, 2021 rated it liked it
Part legal thriller, part medical thriller, part murder mystery, with just a little soupçon of the fantastical, all adding up to a little less than the sum of its parts. We have two parallel stories: one in 2008-2010 revolving around a malpractice suit after a brain surgery leaves a boy in a bizarre condition (constantly walking in circles, never sleeping, never eating, never changing), and one in 2019 after the boy's father is arrested for (and confesses to) the murder of one of the key figures ...more
Diana Garcia
Jay Shenk is an ambulance chasing lawyer who is not the charmer he like to believe he is. He lives with his adopted son Rueben and loves having him “ help” him on his cases. He receives a tip about a 16 year old boy named Wesley Keener, who has just been admitted to the hospital after an accident at school and rushed in to surgery. Wesley has an unexplained transformation after the surgery, he seems to be “ hollowed out”, he doesn’t need food, sleep, all body processes stop except for his unceas ...more
Jun 01, 2021 rated it really liked it
This is a legal/medical thriller, but because it is by Ben H. Winters, there is a little something extra that takes the story out of the normal world we live in. The book swings between the present and past, and centers around the Keeners, whose 16-year-old son Wes suffered an inexplicable neurological condition after brain surgery, and Jay Shenk, an ambulance-chasing lawyer who sues the hospital on the Keeners' behalf. Jay is a single father, and as the story unfolds in the past and present, we ...more
Jun 02, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I guess I admired this book more than I enjoyed it. I was hoping for a science-fiction mystery, and instead I got two mysteries and a tragedy with a dash of the supernatural. The tragedy was clearly telegraphed, and I found it uncomfortable waiting for the conclusion. In some ways, The Last Policeman was about the inevitability of death, and this book was about the inevitability of human frailty. I guess I have more squeamishness about human frailty. I would, however, read a sequel about (view s ...more
Jun 10, 2021 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
May 21, 2021 rated it really liked it
Shelves: kindle, ebook
Wesley hits his head and goes into a trance. He spends his time pacing, never eating, never doing anything but pacing. Jay, a personal injury lawyer, is on the case. His son Rueben, struggling with growing up, helps out. Mix in some supernatural stuff, a bit of Jewish humor and angst, and a lot of thoughts about family. The result is an enjoyable and imaginative story. Rather than rating this in stars, it would be good to rate it in smiles. That would get a 5!
Jun 15, 2021 rated it really liked it
Unlike Winters' Golden State and his Last Policeman trilogy The Quiet Boy is not easily genrefied. A character driven quasi-realistic, quasi-noir work that the author suggests is mostly about family. And while I agree, lots of weird and unsettling things occur that challenge those families and readers who care about them. The main mystery never fully resolves--if that doesn't bother you The Quiet Boy is worth the read. ...more
Cynthia Sacks
Jun 22, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Although this book was not exactly what I thought it would be (the story line got a little strange in the "reason" for the Quiet Boy, in my opinion), it was still a most fascinating and enthralling read. The writing is exceptional and the characters fascinating in their development. Not an easy or quick read, but one to savor and experience. I received a copy of the book as part of a Goodreads giveaway, but that did not affect my rating. ...more
May 31, 2021 rated it really liked it
Interesting mix of genres - crime, horror, thriller. Mostly it worked for me and I read it quickly and enjoyed it. I did find myself skimming toward the end, the book went forward and backward in time frequently and that affected the pacing. I liked it enough to order his previous book The Last Detective.
Jordyn Roesler
Realllly disappointing... after loving Golden State by this author, I was expecting a twisty dystopia/sci fi book that I couldn’t put down- this ended up being slow and weirdly focused on the medical/legal aspects instead of the sci fi piece that it pitches.
Jun 03, 2021 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I may want to read more by this author. His main characters grew on me as the plot developed. The plot was not as appealing as the characters. I found it confusing at times and exciting at other times.
Jodie Siu
Jun 17, 2021 rated it really liked it
Engaging characters, intriguing storyline, lots of action. The ending was a bit unsatisfying but the writing and characters made up for it - I enjoyed myself thoroughly while I was reading it and could hardly put it down.
Josh Newhouse
Jun 23, 2021 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 21jun
This was a weird book. I really like Ben’s work and I liked the first half… the ending felt rushed and weird and the twist was so predictable… it’s a decent character study but it feels like something is missing… 3.5 stars… but it’s still an intriguing page turner even when it falls apart!
May 06, 2021 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2021
This was a little odd, but very compelling. Full review to come soon!
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“It never ceased to amaze Shenk that it was his brand of lawyering that was considered banditry, scorned as “ambulance chasing,” when men like Riggs could blamelessly hitch their wagons to multibillion-dollar companies like Wellbridge, whose business model was highly sophisticated bloodsucking: collect and collect and collect, and only pay when forced; when squeezed; when pushed to the wall by the heroic likes of Jay Shenk.” 0 likes
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