I have to admit this book read kind of like a NaNoWriMo novel. I'm not saying that in a bad way. Just that the voice of the protagonist lends it to the type of writer who has a word count to fulfill or who gets paid by the sentence. There is a lot of extra stuff here. Do I really care about the Battle of the Fish and Chips Shops? Not really. But the way the author puts himself in the head of the main character, it's obvious that Heck cares about it, or at least has that flotsam floating around in his head, and by golly if he's writing a book it is all spilling out on the paper. At first I found this a bit annoying. But Heck is one of those characters who grows on you. By the last page, he was someone I could genuinely care about, for all of his silly meandering mental paths. His voice is very clear.
That's kind of how the entirety of this book was for me. At first I had a hard time settling myself down in the plot and setting. Not because I'm unused to British novels or slang, because I'm not, but because seeing the world through the viewpoint of someone who lives it every day naturally means you get a few strange things thrown at you all at once and not everything is going to be explained. But as the novel carried itself along, I grew more interested in Heck's life, his friends (though I never could tell them or the bullies quite apart), and his family. By the end of it I genuinely was rooting for Heck.
I had a hard time with Jack. Maybe it was just his ALL-CAPS dialogue though normally that doesn't bug me. I had a hard time figuring out what he was saying and what his motives were. It felt strange that a tumor would actually have motives. That kind of got me off on some long train of thought about If I Were a Brain Tumor, What Would My Life Goal Be? Would it be different if I were a tumor in somebody's colon, or a piece of plaque blocking their artery, or an ulcer in their tummy? Hmm. Thinking about the thought paths of vicious bodily problems occupied me quite a bit as I read along.
I would like to see this comic ending that got cut out of the American version. I HATE when books are changed from country to country. It is a pet peeve of mine. Here's hoping the comic can be put online somewhere...