Book Review: Struck by Lightning

Author: Chris Colfer
Genre: Young Adult
Rating: ★★★★☆ (4 out of 5 stars)

Struck by Lightning: The Carson Phillips Journal is about Carson who is a driven, passionate and ambitious senior student of Clover High School but who also happens to be at the bottom of the food chain, basically, an outcast. He however continues to do his own thing. He is keeping the school paper alive, despite him being the only one who actually writes every article, because being a journalist is something he is really passionate about. He is also the President of the Writer’s Club who’s only other member is this girl who camcords everything happening and who has a little bit of problem with plagiarism. But well, she was his sidekick. His high school was filled with cliche characters: the cheerleader with an attitude, the dumb jock, the rich kid, the uptight honor student, the closeted gay, the clueless counselor; you guys know the drill.

And everyone hated Carson. Just like the way Carson hated everyone.

Carson grew up in a dysfunctional family. He lived with a drunkard for a Mom who relies on medication to live a “functional” life everyday and who was left by her husband because not even having a son could apparently save their marriage. He’s got a grandmother who probably is the only person whom he truly adored but who does not recognize him anymore due to her deteriorating memory.

The short story revolved around Carson trying to carve his way out of their small town, to get into Northwestern and eventually become the editor of The New Yorker. To raise his chances at getting accepted in Northwestern, it meant having to create a good portfolio. So aside from writing for the school paper and being the president of the Writer’s Club he was also going to start a literary magazine. And for that to be physically possible he needed his peers’ contribution to magazine. The peers he hated. But their contribution he will get no matter what, even if he had to blackmail the most popular students of Clover High School. Carson was a little bit of a selfish prick at first, but the thing is, you can actually understand where he is coming from. And to be honest, aren’t we all  a bit of a selfish prick sometimes? Carson’s character feels very real. He was honest, he was a bit of a jerk, he was intelligent and felt like he’s better than everyone else. But you cannot actually hate him. I mean, as a reader, you cannot hate him. You would go and root for him. And despite him, trying to create the literary magazine purely for his own selfish pursuits, it played a huge role in Carson’s senior life. It lead him to the dark secrets his highschool peers are hiding. But it also lead him to get to know them a little better.

It was a relatively short read but it had evoked so many emotions from me. It was funny but heartbreaking. It was beautiful but haunting. It was dark but it sheds light. I couldn’t help but laugh at Carson’s sarcastic comments and I love reading the other students’ contribution to his magazine because some are just downright hilarious. And it was so nice to get inside the head of the other characters. You would realize that Carson is not alone in his sufferings. They may be fighting totally different battles but they are all fighting in their own ways. And over the last 10 pages or so of the book my tears would not stop falling. You know that feeling when it hurt so bad and it felt like something was constricting your chest. And you are crying so hard that at first no sound was coming out of your mouth and then next thing you know you are howling. That was it for me. I don’t know what it was that really caused me to feel that way but I was so affected!

It didn’t end in the way that I hoped it would be but that really made it more effective for me. Like wow! The way it had affected me.

There is also a film starring the author himself, Chris Colfer, which I believe was made first before the book was actually published. I watched it a couple of hours after reading the book and another crying fest ensued. I love how the film showed more of how Carson actually affects the people around him. But I love how the book gave more of the thoughts of the other characters. Normally I would say that the book is better than the movie but this time I cannot actually say that. Both the book and the film are captivating in their own way. And that’s a good thing right?

I actually don’t now whose book is this. I am not sure which sister of mine bought this book and forgot she had it and left it somewhere in the house for someone else’s benefit. For someone else to read. Who happened to be me! I am actually grateful because this book is a gem. So shoutout to either of my sisters for this book.

I’m giving it four out of five stars!

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