Simon's Bookcase

Reviews from Lord Taylor of Glencoe


Wonder: R.J. Palacio, February 15—17, 2016

My rating: ♦♦♦◊◊

WonderAugust is a regular boy with an irregular face. Due to the amount of surgery he needed in early childhood, Auggie was home-schooled. His transition to a regular school affects a number of people, and this is their story.

Wonder is told from multiple characters’ viewpoints, including August, his sister, his new best friend and several supporting characters. Much of the plot centres around the dynamics between the characters, and the way they change over the course of the year.

Palacio does a good job of getting inside each character’s head. Because each narrator has one extended contribution each (except August, who has three) the empathy builds and each perspective seems entirely reasonable. When a new character picks up the story, they briefly recap the preceding events from their point of view before moving it on. Palacio is very selective in what is revisited, so it’s never repetitive. While there is character development aplenty, they all speak very similarly and the plot is quite predictable.

It’s a clever book. August looks different from other kids, and it’s very plain to see how that impacts him. But the more subtle impacts of his sister Via – known by her peers as the sister of the disfigured boy – or his new friend  Jack – ostracized by those wary of August – is interesting. Is it so bad to want to be known for being yourself? Is it so bad to want the friendships that are only lost by association? These themes could so easily have been patronising, but Palacio is honest enough in her approach to include shades of grey. The principle antagonist does not have a point of view chapter, though Palacio released it in a new edition in 2014.

Spread across a full term, it’s not slow but neither is Wonder a page-turner. Rather, it rumbles along at a steady pace. Quite a lot about this book is ‘steady’, and the focuses are quite narrow. If it was a BBC production, it would be leaning more heavily on ‘inform and educate’, and less on ‘entertain’.

August is endearing, and it’s hard not to root for him. Wonder doesn’t shy away from difficult issues, and gets its message across effectively. Perhaps it’s what Palacio wanted, but it’s the message that will remain with you, while much of the actual story will be very quickly forgotten.


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This entry was posted on February 17, 2016 by in 3 star and tagged .

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@Queen_UK Adolf Hitler agatha christie Alan Clements Alastair Campbell Aldous Huxley Aleksandr Orlov Alex Shaffer Andrew Neiderman Anthony Burgess Arthur Miller Bateman Ben Brooks Ben Elton Bram Stoker Bret Easton Ellis C.J. Cherryh Carolyn Jess-Cooke Charles Dickens Chuck Palahniuk Dan Brown Dante Alighieri dashiell hammett david baldacci David Brin David Glattauer David Kirkpatrick David Line David Tennant David Wolstencroft Dylan Jones E.L. James Edgar Allen Poe Emilia Fox Eoin Colfer Erica Spindler Frank Peretti Gabrielle Lord Gareth Roberts Geoff Ryman George Orwell George R. R. Martin George W. Bush Gillian Flynn Gillian Slovo Graham Greene Guy Piran Harper Lee Harriet Lane Herman Koch Ian Rankin J.K. Rowling Jack Thorne Jacqueline Rayner James Herbert James Patterson Jasper Fforde Jeff Green Jeff Kinney Jeffrey Archer Jem Lester Jenny Robson Jeremy Clarkson Jerry B. Jenkins Jim Thompson John Crowther John Green John Grisham John Tiffany John Verdon Jonas Jonasson Judith Kerr Juliana Foster Justin Richards Kaci Hill Karen Levine Keeley Bolger Louis Walsh malorie blackman Marissa Meyer Mark Haddon Mark Z. Danielewski Martin Sixsmith Mary Higgins Clark Mary McNamara Matt Haig Matthew Ravden Michael Berry Michael Connelly Michael Morpurgo Michael Quirke Miguel de Cervantes Mike Lancaster Morris Gleitzman Morton Rhue Neil Sinclair Nick Hornby Nick Page Patricia Cornwell Patricia Stotley Patrick Ness Paula Hawkins Paul Johnston Peter James Phil Allcock R.J. Palacio Rachelle Dekker Raymond Chandler Richard Bachman Robert Louis Stevenson Robert Ludlum Robin Cook Robin Kirkpatrick sandra brown Sebastian Beaumont Sharon Osbourne Stella Rimmington Stephen Cole Stephen King Steve Lookner Steve Lyons Stuart MacBride Sue Townsend Suzanne Collins ted dekker Terry Pratchett Tim LaHaye Tim Randall Todd Strasser Tom Avery Tom Bower Tom Cain Tom Hoyle tony blair William Golding William P. Young William Shakespeare