The Alex Crow

The Alex Crow

Book - 2015
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The story of Ariel, a Middle Eastern refugee who lives with an adoptive family in Sunday, West Virginia, is juxtaposed against those of a schizophrenic bomber, the diaries of a failed arctic expedition from the late nineteenth century, and a depressed, bionic reincarnated crow.
Publisher: New York, New York :, Dutton Books, an imprint of Penguin Group (USA) LLC,, [2015]
ISBN: 9780525426530
Characteristics: 317 pages ; 22 cm


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Jan 10, 2016

I was not looking forward to reading this due to the fact that I disliked Grasshopper Jungle so much. I was pleasantly surprised by this. It has some of the same crudeness tot he story that GJ has but it did not come off as annoying.i really carried about the characters.

Aug 12, 2015

The Alex Crow is a novel which narrates through three separate plots which ultimately blend together. After multiple readings, it can be described as a satire of young adult fiction for boys. One plot talks of the time the protagonist, Ariel, and his brother, Max, spent at the fictional Camp Merrie-Seymour for boys. At the camp, Ariel, who is Max's adoptive brother brought to America from a foreign country, and Max befriend Cobie Peterson and the three go on to do the things at the camp together. The second story revolves around the travels of an insane man named Leonard Fountain. He continuously hears voices and even converses with them. Despite this, at the beginning of the book it is neither completely obvious that these are voices nor does it ever confirm that they are voices. The third plot is Ariel chronicling to Max about his time before he was brought to America. Occasionally after one of the stories, there is a diary written by Dr. Merrie (the namesake of the summer camp) about his expeditions on a boat called The Alex Crow. On my first reading of the book, I was quite confused as to what had happened, as the book didn’t seem to make much sense or really add up. I had however found the book to be quite consistently funny throughout. And upon my second reading, I had realized the book was not taking itself very seriously. The book contains a lot of humour that is dependent on shock value and physical comedy. It also satirizes young adult fiction by having each of the main characters assigned to a specific archetype (the shy and quiet one, the one who talks to much, the leader of the group, etc.) of fiction. Also, all but one of the main characters is male and the only female is an antagonist. This potentially purposefully male driven narrative is also to satirize boy fiction. This book, if looked at in that light, is very funny. But if taken seriously, it may seem disgusting or even repulsive.

May 12, 2015

Smith successfully "keeps it weird" again, blending his usual themes of alienation, total adult ruination of the world, the sexual development of teen boys, etc etc. You'll find yourself laughing and crying, often simultaneously.

JCLChrisK May 06, 2015

The promotional tour Smith undertook with the release of this book was dubbed "Keep YA Weird," with an accompanying online campaign and fun images. And on the general continuum of stories books tell, The Alex Crow does indeed tilt toward the stranger side--

{Consider, for instance:

- The subplot about Leonard Fountain, the physically deteriorating "melting man," who might just be the most insane man on the planet, as he wanders the countryside in an old U-Haul with a radioactive bomb he's built, bullied (and constantly urged to homicide) by the voice of Joseph Stalin in his head--along with multiple other voices and hallucinations--in search of the Beaver King he needs to blow up.

- The subplot about a failed arctic expedition from the past, conveyed by the journal entries of one of its few survivors, that led to the discovery of a "devil-man" frozen in the ice.

- The scientific pursuits of the protagonists' fathers, which include bringing extinct species back to life and using them as "biodrones" to spy on--and blow up--whomever they please.

- The lone female colleague of their fathers, who has penned a book titled, Male Extinction: The Case for an Exclusively Female Species.

- The antics at Camp Merrie-Seymour for Boys, where the protagonists are sent for the summer since it's a free work perk for their parents, which include . . . an honest look at how teen boys act when left alone under the supervision of barely-not-teen-boys, with their constant talk of masturbation and threats of violence toward each other.}

--yet it's not the weirdness that really defines this book, but the underlying weight of its connecting themes. Even during the most ridiculous, often hilarious moments there is a looming sense of menace and gravitas that maybe its not all just fun and games. That maybe, even as fifteen-year-old narrator Ariel weaves in chapters of his long, arduous flight from the Middle-East as a refugee, being resurrected from one life to the next until finally landing with a family in West Virginia, all of our efforts are really just leading us toward self-extinction.

The Alex Crow is a collection of stories, some of which have clear linear connections and some of which weave together in unexpected ways. They all converge in the end to make a larger whole, one that is compellingly interesting, disturbingly amusing, and insightfully--if somewhat scarily--satisfying.

MacLeod Andews' audiobook narration is absolutely stellar, and I highly recommend consuming the book in that medium. Smith's writing seems all the more eloquent when he brings it to life.

LibraryK8 Apr 08, 2015

Much like the cabins of Camp Merrie-Seymour for Boys this book is really a solar system of stories, revolving and orbiting each other, crossing paths briefly. Ariel tells the story of how he came from a war-torn town in the middle east to be adopted by a family in Sunday, West Virgina and became Max's brother. The Alex Crow embarks on an exploratory voyage to the north pole in the 1800's, tragically becoming trapped in the ice and loosing most of it's crew. Leonard Fountain, "the melting man" and the product of biomedical research, drives cross-country with a bomb in the back of his u-haul, egged on by Joseph Stalin. Because this book is written by Andrew Smith, these stories sound unrelated and impossible to connect...But Smith connects them masterfully.

Every Andrew Smith book is different, and I don't even bother reading synopsis anymore, because I trust him to deliver. This book won't disappoint Smith fans. If you haven't read him before, you are in for an enjoyable (if weird) ride!


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Jun 23, 2015

<i>The Alex Crow</i>'s protagonist is a boy named Ariel, who has fled to America after surviving an attack on his village. There is Leonard Fountain, the schizophrenic melting man, and there is a failed Arctic expedition. As Ariel and his adoptive brother Max goes through a grueling summer at Camp Merrie-Seymour for boys, the dirty secrets about Merrie-Seymour are revealed through the diary entries, Leonard's scenes, and Ariel's adventures at the camp.

LibraryK8 Apr 08, 2015

Camp Merrie-Seymour for Boys is the home to Ariel and Max for the summer. Six weeks without technology, living in the Jupiter cabin (all the cabins are named for planets) they quickly realize they are different from everyone else at camp. Sent there not to overcome their addiction to technology (the advertise goal of the camp) Max and Ariel are there because their father works for Merrie-Seymour and camp tuition is free for employees. The only ones not obsessed with getting a sweet taste of the internet, the boys of Jupiter quickly begin to win the cabin competition. But when the boys of Jupiter sneak out of the cabin in the night to explore the counselors break room, they discover weed, booze and a book that may reveal the true goal of Camp Merrie-Seymour for Boys.


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