I love to read legal thrillers and when I saw that John Grisham had written ,Theo Boone: Kid Lawyer I bought the book immediately. I spent countless hours as a kid immersed in the pages of Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys. Their books are pretty dated for today’s kids and nothing has stepped up to fill the void. I figured I finally had the chance to turn kids on to a genre I adore. Unfortunately, I was disappointed.
Theo Boone is a 13 year old middle school kid who loves the law. He is a product of two lawyer parents, and strange Uncle Ike, also a lawyer. Through the years, Theo has apparently spent enough time in his parents’ offices, and the courtroom, that he has a fair understanding of the law. As a result, peers come to him for help at school and he gives them advice on which lawyers to see and how to proceed within the law to fix their problems.
Oh yea, there is a murder mystery which is the main plot line of the novel. Mrs. Duffy is murdered, there are no witnesses and Mr. Duffy goes on trial accused of murdering his wife. Yada, yada….Boring. To begin, Theo himself is just not a very believable character. He is unlike any 13 year old boys I’ve ever known. He looks okay on the outside, but when you poke further, there is no depth. Once you get that he likes law in chapter one, you never really find out anything else about what makes him tick and be likeable. Theo is like a piece of decorated cardboard- okay on the outside and nothing beyond.
This book seems to be written with the boy market in mind. Grisham in an interview featured on the Amazon.com website, talks about how he loved the Hardy boys as kid and how this character, Theo Boone, a single child of two lawyer parents came to him first. However, I think it’s going to be a hard sell for most 9-14 year old boys. They typically want more action, and substance. They have been reading Harry Potter, Percy Jackson and the Olympians, and Alex Rider – and are used to fully developed characters, mystery and intrigue mixed with thrilling action. There’s none of that recipe in Theo Boone. The plot never really builds to any great crescendo and it ends with an unsatisfying whimper.
If you are interested in the law and how courtrooms work, you will probably enjoy this book. However, I think with a few exceptions, this book will be collecting a lot of dust on our library shelf. (reviewed by Mrs. Hembree)