Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Book review: Struck by Lightning by Chris Colfer

Struck by Lightning: the Carson Phillips Journal is originally a movie script to a movie playing in U.S. theatres these days. Chris Colfer wrote the script, plays the main character and has also written this book based on it. Colfer is also an actor on the TV-show Glee and this is his second book, the first being a children's fantasy novel, Land of Stories. Just to be clear, I am already a fan of Chris Colfer as an actor but I'm gonna try my best not to let that influence my review of this book.

SBL is written as the diary of the main character Carson Philips. He is an outsider at school, both smart and a smart-arse. He's from a broken up home, where his father left years ago and his mother hasn't really gotten out of the couch since then. Carsons biggest dream is to get out of the small town he lives in where his talents are unappreciated. He finds some dirt on a couple of his more popular classmates and decides to blackmail them into writing for him in a literary magazine. He needs this to show the University of Northwestern that he can inspire and create to fulfill his own dream of going there and become a sucessful journalist and editor. He then realizes how most people have skeletons in their closets, so why stop with only two classmates?

Struck By Lightning: The Carson Phillips Journal

High School. Society’s bright idea to put all their aggressive, naive youth into one environment to torment and emotionally scar each other for life.

 I like the storyline of this book and it's what made me want to read it in the first place. Carson's story is pretty tragic and sad but is told in a very sarcastic tone. Carson is a very ambitious, arrogant and quite cynical character but he has his reasons. I read that Chris Colfer wrote the original script as a teenager in high school because this is the movie he wanted and needed to see. The main character is based on himself but more as the person he wanted to be, the one that punched/fought back with witty comments and didn't only think them, or in my case thought of them waay later:-) Even though Carson isn't a very sympathetic character I still care for him. I think many of us at times have wanted to find our inner Carson Phillips (or Veronica Mars<3) despite the fact that he thinks he is better than everyone else. Sometimes you have to think that way to get by, it's a defense mechanism. This kind of character is usually not the one we root for and I don't root for Carson all the time either, but I guess that makes him a somewhat complex character. I especially liked the parts of the book where Carson went to see his grandmother with Alzheimer's that is the only person he really cares about and also the scenes with his depressed mother. They felt very real and heartbreaking and adds some debth and humanity to the character.

This book is at times very funny, even hilarious, and at times it makes you both sad and angry. Carson is both bitter and cynical and his way of caracterizing the people around him reflects this. The characters are high school-stereotypes and described almost as caricatures but it works in a way because it is written as a diary and therefore in Carson's own words and opinion. I still have a feeling that this works better and feels more natural on screen than on paper.

The bottom line is that I really like the plot, the dark humour and the sadness side by side but the execution is not flawless. Colfer's writing has a certain edge and I think an originality to it but the book feels a little rushed especially towards the end. It's a very entertaining and easy read so you don't have to think twice about it if you're curious to see what Chris Colfer can do as an author. Even though this book doesn't live up to it's full potential in my opinion I am very curious to see what else he's got up his sleeve because I think he shows a lot of promise as a YA-author with Struck by Lightning. I am also very excited to see the movie. Has anyone seen it?
My rating:


Bought my own copy.


  1. I agree at times it would have been nice to find our own Carson Phillips. I love that Chris Colfer wrote this in high school. What a great way to channel all those emotions and hormones.

    1. Yes, maybe that's the way to do it when you can't find those witty or sarcastic things to say when you need them.

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  3. I think'll read Land of Stories first(because I own a copy) and I might just watch the Struck by Lightning movie instead of reading the book. Excellent review, Silje.


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