I’ve been planning on starting this since the dawn of the blog and here I finally am. This is the first in a series of entries examining books and movies dealing with autism. My hope is to get one entry up a month as I explore art relating to the subject matter. I kick things off with a book that seemed to have a lot going for it. Did it meet its promise?
Colin Fischer by Ashley Edward Miller and Zack Stentz
Plot: a teenager with Asperger’s inserts himself into an investigation to clear his bully’s name after a shooting.
Analysis: Colin Fischer is a good book that never reaches great. It’s a definite page turner and I was always interested but I felt a bit frustrated thinking back on it. It’s a case where the genre and the subject matter simply aren’t compatible resulting in an atonal read.
First the good. This is pretty much steeped in autism on every page. Either in actual discussion, and the book gets major points for actually using terms instead of being weaselly in order to create its own version, or Colin’s behavior. Colin is also an exceedingly accurate portrait of an autistic teen. He’s a shade more severe than I was but he’s recognizable to a fault. Teens who find this book are going get a strong dose of what it is to be autistic.
Colin himself is also a sharply etched character in his own right. At times he’s a bit of a cliche. He’s an arrogant autistic with a mystery fixation. But this is a cliche that’s well executed so I let the book have it. He’s given a rich inner life at least.
I also felt like Colin lived in a clear world. I could buy that the writers had thought every element of this story out. Colin clearly lived in a defined universe and I dug that. That’s all too rare. The supporting characters were fairly engaging.
The problem the book hits is a real roadblock. The mystery is almost a complete afterthought. It’s not a very mysterious mystery largely because I didn’t think the book was all that interested in it. There’s a few token clues and it goes through the motions but it’s not at all satisfying.
I also could clearly see this wasn’t written as a novel originally. This is a transparent pilot reworked into a book. As a result it never feels like a complete read much less a book. Adjectives are barely there. A real loss.
And that’s why I’m frustrated. This is ALMOST there as a book. As a depiction of autism it’s incredible. But it’s not satisfying on the basic level. In spite of that, I do recommend the book. It’s worth reading for the depiction. But the balance must be struck.