Dy's Take

October 16, 2009

Chasing the Bear: A Young Spenser Novel by Robert B. Parker

Filed under: YA — Dy @ 16:51
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This is supposed to be a YA book, and was shelved by the library as such. I’ve been a bit in love with Spenser (does he even HAVE a first name?!) since Robert Urich played him on TV and the books never discouraged me. So I picked it up.

As a Spenser fan it was a satisfying little read—a nice glimpse into the heretofore only vaguely mentioned youth of my favorite PI. As a YA book it is–hate to say it–a miserable failure.

To start, it is framed as Spenser telling Susan about his youth. They make enough lovey-dovey comments that you get the high points: they’ve been together a while and she’s a Jewish princess turned shrink. From a YA perspective: boring. No tween/teen wants to read about someone talking about their childhood adventures, especially not in Parker’s spare, dialogue-driven style.

There is action, and a decent amount of it, but it is strung together loosely and lacks a solid narrative framework. Basically, it’s a series of incidents strung together with questions from Susan, like a brief Q&A in book form.

I also found the young Spenser unbelievable. He sounded too much like the adult Spenser. Almost no one sounds the same as a kid and an adult. If they do, it’s usually a childish pattern that stuck rather than an adult-too-young persona.

I liked it, but I don’t think it succeeded as a teen book, it just relies too heavily on the reader already having a solid idea of who these people are.

This sounds mean, and I hate that because I did enjoy the book. I just don’t think the story ended up being what it set out to be.


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