The City’s Son- Tom Pollock
Friendship is man’s greatest good. It’s a sentiment from time immemorial or at least back to Socrates. And most wondrous strange, The City’s Son feels like an old friend already. Though it is completely new and wholly unique, it sings the song of old human truths—of friendship and love, sacrifice and bravery, of fear and loss. It is the type of book that has you holding your breath to the very last page, and upon coming to that end your exhalation brings painful, blissful relief. The plot reminds me of an epic saga though I suppose stories of war and friendship when done right should remind one of the rage of Achilles, the friendships of The Shire, the love of Odysseus, the bravery of the kings and queens of Narnia, and the dangers of Mordor. It is impossible not to love and cheer for Fil, Beth and Pen. It is impossible not to fight with them, cheer them in their triumphs and cradle them in their fragility. Even the parental element was well done, which is so rare in YA these days.
Pollock writes as though he were the boy with the city in his skin. He gets it—the allure of iron and concrete and towers that reach to kiss the heavens. He sees the magic they hold. For a long time I’ve held that each city has it’s own pulse-a heartbeat you can hear if you’re listening for it. New York’s is the fluttering beat of hummingbird wings more of a constant buzz then a drumbeat. New Orleans sounds more like the slow, lazy upward tilt of a jazz song (I always think of Datri Bean’s “Slow Down Summertime” when I’m there). I’m convinced Pollock can hear the city’s pulse too, and what is more he can help others hear it.
The prose is practically poetry all at once both searing and subtle. It resonates to the core of universal truths and expresses what before had been ineffable with such stunning grace it honestly stole my breath. On nearly every page was a phrase that needed underlining; a glimpse into brilliance itself. I can’t quote everything because it would ruin the loveliness for you when you experience it the first time but I will say these pages I’ve dog-eared and underlined in my book: 53, 124, 129, 182, 188, 193, 261, 276, 334, 380, 398. And those are just the dog-eared pages, forget about the ones where I annotated the margins.
At the end what matters is this: the story, the characters, the writing are exceptional and far exceeded any expectations I had. To say The City’s Son is a must read doesn’t even do justice to the book; it is a read that conveys what it is to be human and more so what it is to be human in this awe-full world of cities. Can you say PRE-ORDER?
Overall: A++ (Yes two pluses are necessary)
P.S. Thank God there are two more books coming.
P.P.S. I actually edited out whole paragraphs of this review so you can thank me for that but honestly there is so much I want to talk about with this book. So please read it and ask me so we can talk about it, dammit.
P.P.P.S. Bonus points if you know where the title of this post comes from. If so, color me impressed. Googling does not count.
The City’s Son is due out in September from Flux (@fluxbooks). Pre-order your copy here.
Follow Tom on twitter @tomhpollock or at his website here.
ARC provided gratis at BEA.