The Tragic Age by Stephen Metcalfe | ARC Review

The Tragic Age | Stephen Metcalfe
Pages: 320
Genre(s): Young Adult, Contemporary, COA
Published: March 3, 2015 | St. Martin's Griffin
Format: ARC - Paperback
Source: Publisher

This is the story of Billy Kinsey, heir to a lottery fortune, part genius, part philosopher and social critic, full time insomniac and closeted rock drummer. Billy has decided that the best way to deal with an absurd world is to stay away from it. Do not volunteer. Do not join in. Billy will be the first to tell you it doesn’t always work— not when your twin sister, Dorie, has died, not when your unhappy parents are at war with one another, not when frazzled soccer moms in two ton SUVs are more dangerous than atom bombs, and not when your guidance counselor keeps asking why you haven’t applied to college.

Billy’s life changes when two people enter his life. Twom Twomey is a charismatic renegade who believes that truly living means going a little outlaw. Twom and Billy become one another’s mutual benefactor and friend. At the same time, Billy is reintroduced to Gretchen Quinn, an old and adored friend of Dorie’s. It is Gretchen who suggests to Billy that the world can be transformed by creative acts of the soul. 

With Twom, Billy visits the dark side. And with Gretchen, Billy experiences possibilities.Billy knows that one path is leading him toward disaster and the other toward happiness. The problem is—Billy doesn’t trust happiness. It's the age he's at. The tragic age.

I received this ARC in exchange for an honest review. This opinion is my own, and will not be affected by this.

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Outside of the blogging community, I'm one of those people who has a ton of friends. The difference between me and other bloggers I know, is that I have more MALE friends than female. I've always chalked this up to the fact that, when I was younger I was a huge tomboy -- well, to a certain extent, I still am. Instead of talking about getting my hair done, or about nails, makeup, clothes, accessories, and boys, I'm chatting about what video games I want to buy for my PS3, how I would bust anyone's ass in Mortal Kombat, or I'm arguing about how Grand Theft Auto 3 will forever be the best game in it's franchise. So to make a long story short, I have more in common with boys I know, than I do with the girls I know IRL. Weird right?

Obviously, this has transferred into my bookish habits, because I've begun to realize that within the YA genre, I typically enjoy the book more when it's from the male perspective. This is probably why every book I read with a male lead is pretty much a home run for me, and The Tragic Age delivered a near perfect pitch.

Chef Boyar-Stephen

Grab a bowl. Mix in 

5 Cups of a dysfunctional family. 4 cups of a unorthodox teenage boy with a wiseass personality. 3 Tablespoons of a deceased sister who still lives within dreams.
2 Teaspoons of a unusual set of friends that include: a nerd so pathetic I wanted to slap him, a rebel newcomer with anger issues, an overly sexual girl who wasn't a friend . . . but then she sort of was, and finally a good girl who was completely oblivious to it all.  Finally add 1 stick of a mind-blogging plot twist.
Bake on 500º for an hour and you have yourself a recipe for disaster.

But a good disaster always makes for a delicious meal.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 

With an alcoholic dad who won 37 million dollars in the lottery, a mother who is oblivious to everything around her, and a sister who passed away too young from Leukemia, Billy Kinsey was pretty much left to his own devices. He was a know-it-all, mixing fiction with factual statements in a surprisingly not-so-annoying manner. I'm usually put off by people with this type of personality, but it was really easy for me to like Billy's character. Right off the bat I knew he would be an introvert, keeping to himself or with a handful of friends, but I wasn't truly expecting him to be this entertaining. I laughed quite a few times at his ridiculousness, and because he was so good at not allowing things to appear as they seem, all the troubling issues he was dealing with, only seemed to surface when he wanted to present them to you.

Up In Flames

What made this book for me, were the friendships, (if you can even call them that) Billy made with the supporting characters. Twom, Deliza, Ephriam, and Gretchen were as odd and uncomfortable as a stripper in church bright & early on a sunday morning. Not too mention incredibly unhealthy. Gretchen, an old friend of his twin sister Dorie, became Billy's girlfriend later on in the story, and was the only one who had any damn sense. I adored their relationship, mainly because it reminded me of how wholesome young love can really be. Being the dummy most adolescent boys are, (no offense, but we all know it's true) Billy couldn't just settle for a normal life with the girl he knew he loved but wanted to push away, instead he fell into the adrenaline rush of chaos his other friends offered.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 

Enter dumb, dumber, and dumbest.
Ephriam, the nerd I mentioned earlier, is suffering from depression (I picked up on this early) and is the hacker of the group. Twom is far from the brain of the operation, but he offers enough muscle for everyone, and Deliza is just there to get her rocks off with the school's new bad boy. Things kick into high gear and actually get a bit exciting, as the ragtag group of misfits begin to break into the homes of their surrounding neighbors. I was a bit surprised to find out that this was Billy's idea, and was easily engrossed by the thrill of it all. I had this strong feeling they would all get caught, but I never would've guessed things would end as badly as they did. Shit completely went up in flames . . .

The Night Visitors

Unlike other books that are compared to The Catcher In The Rye, The Tragic Age wasn't at all what I expected. The writing was pleasant, with characters I would call my guilty pleasure, all wrapped in an explosive plot twist that went from 0 to 100 real quick, (10 cool points if you knew I quoted Drake) leaving my mouth literally gaping open. With all that I loved about this book, I will admit that the ending was probably my biggest disappointment. I'm a huge fan of crazy, and that's exactly what Stephen was giving me . . . until the very end. Things left off on a pretty good note, and to be honest, that's the complete opposite of what I was expecting, and what I actually wanted. I assumed things would continue to go south -- to blow up Billy's face. I had images of jail cells, and crying parents, but nope. Everything ended nice and dandy, which really isn't such a bad thing . . .

The Tragic Age was the perfect book I needed to pull me out of my Young Adult slump. It was a light, fast-paced, refreshing read, that all lovers of YA and The Catcher In The Rye would enjoy . . .


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