Rating: 2/5 stars.
Struck By Lightning: The Carson Phillips Journal by Chris Colfer details Carson Phillips’ struggle to gain admission to the school of his dreams: Northwestern University. He absolutely abhors everyone in his small, narrow-minded town – everyone aside from his ailing grandmother and depressed mom. When he realizes that he needs to create a literary journal to bolster his chances of acceptance, he blackmails various people from myriad social groups to write for him.
I empathized with Carson. Trust me, I did. I don’t live in the most conservative, small-minded town ever, but my area is far from New York City or Los Angeles. My yearning for college stems from my need to experience a different setting. In that respect I connected to Carson; his development in the ending spoke to me as well.
However, overall, I detested Carson. Lately I’ve read books with unlikable characters who are unlikable for no reason – like Carson, they’re not fleshed out or written well. Carson castigates his peers for being immature and shallow and superficial, yet he embodies these characteristics as well. He starts rumors and treats his teachers with no respect. He makes snarky, cocky comments that do not contribute to his welfare or better his situation. Here’s one passage I found unduly offensive:
“Personally, I don’t buy ‘rebellious phases.’ I think they’re just dramatic ways of saying, ‘I have no real problems, so I’m going to dress differently and hurt myself so people think I’m more complex than I really am.’ I’m sorry, you can kiss my a** with your ‘inner turmoil.’
You want to be ‘left alone’? You don’t want to be ‘understood’? Then stop dressing up every day like it’s Halloween, you whiny little b*tch. Get over yourself, get some Zoloft, and stop being a f*cking eyesore to everyone around you.”
What’s ironic about this passage is that Carson himself often complains incessantly. Go figure.
Finally, a lot of the book felt fake. Carson would often randomly start preaching about accepting others or not being judgmental; then, pages later, he would go back to insulting everyone around him. Moments or characters that could have had significant impact or thematic importance were dealt with sparsely and with little detail, like Carson’s decision to take antidepressants or Vicki’s goth personality.
I wouldn’t recommend reading this book. Watch the movie, but don’t waste your money on the book. As other reviewers have stated, this book seems like it was produced solely to supplement the movie. A lot of the dialogue is exactly the same dialogue from the trailers and I could discern how script-like the book was in nature. Hopefully Chris Colfer writes a more relatable or developed story next time; I haven’t been impressed yet, neither by his role on Glee nor his publishing of this book.