Monday, October 29, 2012

Colin Fischer by Ashley Edward Miller & Zack Stentz

Colin Fischer has Asperger's syndrome.  He loves math and logic and does not like people touching him and has a hard time reading people's facial expressions.  Colin has just started high school, and is without an aid for the first time.  The very first day, Colin gets his head put in a toilet by Wayne Connelly, and then Wayne Connelly gets expelled for bringing a gun to school.  Only Colin knows that the gun wasn't Wayne's.  Colin uses his powers of perception to work out what actually went on in the school cafeteria, turning him into Wayne Connelly's most unlikely ally.

I really liked how Colin's mother, father, and brother were part of the story.  We actually get to see some interaction between parents and with their children that is positive.  The parent's aren't dysfunctional or abusive.  When parents show up in YA and middle grade stuff, they are very often dysfunctional or dying, so this was lovely.  I quite liked Colin's parents, and the way they handled tricky situations in a realistic and caring way.

Colin's little brother was a typical annoying littler brother, with the added frustration of having a brother who took up a lot of attention.  Danny had some understandable frustration toward Colin, who he felt like got away with things because of his Asperger's.

Colin grows as a person over the course of the book.  He is pushed outside his comfort zone in his determination to make what happened in the cafeteria make logical sense.  Sometimes Colin was OK making changes to his regular routine, and sometimes it did not go very well.  I was glad they showed this, because people who are on the Autism spectrum can't always do something just because they want to or someone else wants them too.  Sometimes it just isn't possible, and pushing them will not help.

I didn't love the basketball scene.  It was like suddenly savant syndrome came out of nowhere.  Colin is forced to participate in gym, and is terrible at basketball due to his poor hand-eye coordination.  But the gym coach has him think about it in a mathematical way, and Colin closes his eyes, calculates, says, "Got it" and starts shooting basket after perfect basket.  I would have preferred Colin to stay a regular kid.  He doesn't really have any special abilities, it's just that he can only see things in a carefully laid out, logical way that allows him to figure out what really happened.

I think this is going to be a series.  There is a strange student at Colin's school, who Colin doesn't quite understand but thinks he's really behind everything, but it doesn't go anywhere.  It seems like there will be more books about Colin solving mysteries to come. 

Colin Fischer comes out November 1, 2012.

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