Wednesday, 20 March 2019

Book Review: An Extraordinary Boy by Vernon Hewitt

an-extraordinary-boy, vernon-hewitt, book

In 1993, 24 terminally ill children are abducted by aliens from hospitals across the UK. They are discovered later dispersed at random and in pairs, cured of cancer with their genomes modified to contain an extra ten chromosomes. The last two, Max Lennox and Jonathan Price, are found in a wood in Leicestershire and later there are rumours that the aliens returned to leave a device of some kind buried in the ground. Who or what is behind these events and why have the children been altered? 

Before I get stuck into talking about the book, can we just take a minute to stop and appreciate how wonderful the cover is? It's simple yet incredibly striking and I think it fits the story perfectly - definitely my favourite cover for a while!

Moving on to the story itself, I felt the plot was very slow to get started. Despite the fact that the author throws you in at the deep end, with little to no initial explanation of what is going on, the majority of the first half of the book was complicated scientific explanation and reasoning, with endless technical jargon. I've never found science to be the most interesting subject, and when faced with pages of complex biology, I wasn't exactly thrilled. In fact, I'm not ashamed to admit that I was strongly tempted to dnf the book on multiple occasions.

Despite that, I persevered - and I'm glad I did. The story switches perspective midway through the book, swapping from Professor Julian Grey's narrative to Jamie Relph's POV. I felt substituting the science for a younger, more naive voice was a real breath of fresh air - not to mention the fact that it helped to add a real element of emotion and humanity to the story.

As a character, Max himself was an enigma, and I think that deliberately choosing not to include him as a narrator was a clever, if unusual decision. By not allowing us access into Max's head, we can only observe him through the eyes of those around him, making his uniqueness all the more prominent.

Similarly, Jamie's blind love and devotion to Max was incredibly touching and bittersweet to read. As the story progressed and the stakes mounted ever higher, it seemed as though Jamie was the sole link to the real world, outside of laboratories, government, and the realm of aliens.

I'm in two minds about An Extraordinary Boy - for one, the science side wasn't my favourite part, whereas the emotional side and the relationship between Max and Jamie was the complete opposite. Plus, after that ending, I have my fingers crossed for a sequel; so many questions have been left unanswered!

Rating: 3 stars

An Extraordinary Boy is available to buy now.

* I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review

Will you be reading the book? Let me know in the comments below!


  1. This is a very generous review - thank you. Looking back now on AEB I agree with the comments on the too slow burn approach and perhaps also with the science. Oddly some reviewers disliked the switch to Jamie, thinking it undermined the plot even more! There is a sequel but it is bogged down with editorial comments and a real problem of scope. It has been finished since 2017 (the year i retired) but it is alas rather stuck for the moment. Writing AEB was easier in that the plot is relatively self contained. The sequel is broad canvas and hard to manage! bw Vernon Hewitt

    1. It's always interesting to see how different readers react to stories in different ways. I understand the issues with the sequel, but fingers crossed you are able to get them worked out!