Review: Lowboy by John Wray

Title: Lowboy
Author: John Wray
Pages: 272
Genre: Modern Fiction
Release Date: February 2nd, 2010
Publisher: Picador
Source: Personal Copy

Since I didn't really care for this book, I'll just use part of the publisher's jacket copy to summarize. Feel free to skip.

Lowboy tells the story of Will’s odyssey through the city’s tunnels, back alleys, and streets in search of Emily Wallace, his one great hope. It also follows his mother, Violet Heller, as she tries desperately to find her son before psychosis claims him completely. Violet is joined by Ali Lateef, a missing-persons specialist, who learns over the course of the day that more is at stake than the recovery of a runaway teen: Will Heller has a chilling case history [schizophrenia], and Violet—beautiful, enigmatic, and as tormented as her son—harbors a secret that Lateef will discover at his own peril.


There's nothing that can make a reader question her opinion more than disliking a book that critics and other readers raved about everywhere. To be completely honest, I just didn't "get" it, and not in a way that made me want to contemplate and mull over the ending long after I turned the last page. I felt like there were a lot of scenes written only for shock value and as a way to cover up the lack of a moving plot. Situations and actions appeared to just be happening without having any meaningful contribution to the overall narrative.

The way William Heller was written came across as a negative stereotyped caricature of schizophrenics. I guess I went into this book hoping for a more poignant look at a day in the life of someone who suffers from a mental illness, but I ultimately felt nothing but disappointment. If anyone has read this and can offer up some positive merits to be considered, please feel free.

So, what are your feelings on authors creating characters with mental illnesses? Have the novels you've read that showcase different disorders been more positive/balanced or negative? Is it okay to portray such a character in a negative light as a plot device?

Review: 2/5


  1. Oy. This one does sound tough to meander through. I also like a more pronounced and thorough insight into schizophrenia, versus making it into something else. I might need to skip over this one...


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