by Ashley Edward Miller & Zack Stentz
Read by Jesse Eisenberg
Published by Penguin Audio
Running time: 4 hrs, 16 mins.
I think that this book had “too big to fail” written all over it, it’s got an Oscar nominated actor reading the audiobook, it is written by two people who were the screenwriters for “Thor” and “X-men: First Class,” a hero with Asperger’s Syndrome and a facial expression guide on the cover of the hard copy version. What could go wrong? Well, absolutely nothing. This book is a big win and once again proves that Young Adult readers always get the best books aimed at their age group.
Penguin Audio listed this book as one of their upcoming releases and the first thing that grabbed me was the authors listed. Being a comic book fan, this got my attention immediately then seeing that this was a an older version of Encyclopedia Brown with some Sherlock Holmes thrown in made it that much more interesting. Then throw in that the main character, Colin Fisher, has Asperger’s Syndrome, I knew it would be not only very interesting but fulfilling and I immediately requested a copy.
Recently the BBC did two seasons of a television series version of Sherlock Holmes, “Sherlock”, which explained that the genius behind the deductive reasoning of the famous detective was due to having Asperger’s Syndrome. Asperger’s Syndrome is an autism spectrum disorder that is characterized by significant difficulties in social interaction, alongside restricted and repetitive patterns of behavior and interests. In this book many aspects of Asperger’s syndrome are observed in Colin that are humorous, those are: he has a vicious dislike for the color blue, he cannot stand to be touched, he needs index cards to recognize facial expressions and does not get humor. These all combine in Colin Fisher to create a very quirky genius detective.
It’s Colin’s first day in High School and he feels he’s armed for the worst, with his notebook for jotting down observations, his collection of cards with various facial expressions and his intellect. But that all goes to pot (literally) within the first few minutes when his nemesis, Wayne Connelly dunks Colin’s head in the toilet. So much for High School being different.
Some things have changed however, Colin’s nerdy female friend returns from the summer having had the full effect of puberty hit head on. In other words; she left middle school a nerd, but comes to high school as a hotty. Throughout Colin’s school life she has always been a friend to him. When her friends bring her a cake to school to celebrate her birthday, the school’s peaceful atmosphere is forever shattered when a gun is fired amid a scuffle between boys wanting to get some of the cake.
The gun is found on the cafeteria floor with a smudge of frosting by Colin, to which he simply replies, “Interesting,” while all of the other student’s run out of the cafeteria in fear for their lives. The school officials immediately put the blame on Wayne Connelly, but Colin knows better and sets out to prove his nemesis’ innocence.
Putting the powers of Asperger’s Syndrome to work, Colin is able to find the real owner of the gun and create some humorous situations that can only happen to Colin. One of the fun things about this audiobook is that whenever a situation arises that needs further explanation or just that something reminds Colin of a fact he knows, there are footnotes. In the production of this book all footnotes and Colin’s journal entries are produced with a slight reverb-type effect that gives the listener the feel that this occurs within Colin’s brain. Nice production trick that makes this book very interesting. By the way, there are several footnotes that range from in depth explanations of Asperger’s Syndrome, the doctor for whom the syndrome is named after, various logical thinkers in history and fiction and sharks.
Speaking of the production, Jesse Eisenberg (who starred in “Zombieland” and “The Social Network”) narrates the audiobook and in my opinion has the vocal fortitude and acting talent to bring the character of Colin to life. He is able to deliver parts of the story with the proper emotional level and yet,when portraying Colin, is able to be the non-emotional Asperger’s Syndrome personality that makes Colin tick.
All in all this is an extremely fun book for all ages, to prove that, I had the audiobook playing during one of my family’s out of town shopping adventures, and everyone in the car; my 12 year-old son, my wife and myself were quite and absorbed by the story. This was yet another audiobook which my son would not let me listen to unless he was present. We all had a blast with this story, and from the way the book ended with a hint of ongoing adventures, look forward to many more Colin Fisher stories.