Saturday, March 31, 2012

The Boy Who Couldn't Die

The Boy Who Couldn't Die

Bibliographic Information:

Sleator, W. (2004). The Boy Who Couldn't Die. New York: Amulet Books. ISBN: 0810948249.


"Those are private voodoo ceremonies, run by houngans. Houngans are voodoo priests who don't practice black magic. When they beat those drums, some people get possessed by spirits-I've seen it"
page 57

"But now, he's moving in slow motion compared to me. He doesn't get a chance to turn around. Against my will, I slash his throat with a knife. Blood spurts out, splashing my face, my clothes. He makes a gurgling noise and says something garbled that might be, "A cave under the far side of the island." He crumbles to the ground." -page 73

Plot Summary:

16-year-old Ken's best friend dies in a plane crash. In order to deal with his loss he decides to see a witch doctor about making him invincible against death in exchange for 50 dollars. In return, he becomes a living zombie that losses his free will and must carry out the heinous crimes of the witch doctor's request.

Critical Analysis:

The Boy That Couldn't Die is fast paced, gripping, engaging, and most recommended for an enjoyable, quick read! Ken is somewhat of a dislikable character: he's rich, cocky, takes things for granted, and thinks everything has a price tag. Those are facts that do not particularly change as Ken goes through various trials to test hs lack of vulnerability, and then to finally cure his zombie fate.

This is a book that I would recommend for older juveniles and teens, or anyone for that matter that has a penchant for fast paced YA lit that specializes in the macabre and has a few hours to spare.

A lot of aspects of this book follow an archetypal YA lit formula. For example, Ken seems to have no parental or monetary bondaries, Also, he gets him self into life threatening problems just as easily as he gets himself out of them and, even though he makes ample mistakes that throw him into the face of danger, he just as easily gets himself out of them. But, that is what makes this book so great. It's like YA crack. This book lacks substance, most likely will not be included in the YA canon of pivotal literature but, I couldn't put it down.


"After his best friend dies in a plane crash, 16-year-old Ken Pritchard keeps thinking of a folktale about a monster that hid his soul, ensuring eternal life. Determined to avoid death himself, Ken finds a woman who removes his soul from his body. At first he is pleased; as in the folktale, he gains physical invulnerability, along with a respite from his misery. But, as readers will suspect from the many creepy details Ken willfully ignores, the rest of the folktale comes true as well. The woman is a zombie master, and he has become a modern-day monster partially under her control. Ken's increasingly desperate first-person narration, as he struggles to find his hidden soul and escape the zombie master's ever more brutal commands, makes for a gripping read. Particularly well rendered are the scuba-diving scenes in the shark-infested waters of the Caribbean and under the thick ice on a wintry Adirondack lake. Sleator spends little time on the spiritual or emotional consequences of Ken's transformation, and characterization is secondary to plot development, but teenaged horror fans won't mind. From the photo of a just-unearthed skull on its cover to the plot twist in its final pages, this fast-paced, suspenseful book will appeal to reluctant and avid readers alike." -School Library Journal

"William Sleator is one of my favorite young adult writers." -R.L. Stine

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