Review of Tales of the Madman Underground

Tales of the Madman Underground: An Historical Romance 1973Tales of the Madman Underground: An Historical Romance 1973 by John Barnes
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

[i]Tales of the Madman Underground[/i] was a slow burner. My initial ambivalence was due to my increasing weariness with writers trying to be gritty and edgy in order to appeal to teen readers, as if only the sordid and dark can entice teens to read. Sort of a combination of Chbosky, Portman, and Krovatin, but without the depth. Then things started to build up over the 500 pages of the book. The characters got more interesting, the conflicts more profound. The main character lives a horribly dysfunctional life, has horribly dysfunctional friends and family, and has decided his senior year is going to be his turn to make a go of living a normal life.

Filled with black humor and enough profanity to make Lenny Bruce blush, this book isn’t going to appeal to everyone. I will say, though, that the very last section of the book paid off big time. I was, literally, crying as I finished the book and saw the protagonist finally get some justice and compassion in a world that while sometimes humorous was all too bleak.

A 5 star ending, but I took away a star because of the slow start.

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