Cooper is not only dead, but he’s also a young adult


Book Review:  Cooper Bartholomew Is Dead by Rebecca James

As the title says, Cooper is dead. How, when, who, and why someone killed Cooper is slowly revealed via short chapters each featuring the point of view of one of the four major characters. Cooper and his girlfriend Libby’s chapters are written in the first person. Cooper’s best friend, Sebastian, and Cooper’s ex-girlfriend Claire’s are written in the third person. The chapters are also split into ‘then’ and ‘now’ sections; the ‘then’ being flashbacks, obviously. It sounds a little complicated (and is to explain!) but I feel like this part worked and I had no trouble with the jump from character to character and/or from time to time.

Cooper is pretty much your typical young Aussie book/movie character. He likes the occasional beer, surfs, lives with his single mum (his dad died before he was born), is poor but so popular that the rich kids allow him to be part of their world, works honestly and hard (making furniture), is very good looking, charming, but is lacking in ego or pretension. I’m pretty sure that the late Heath Ledger could have played him without any trouble.

Libby is the down-to-earth university student who is friends with a much more academic crowd, and believes Cooper would never look at a poor plain girl like her.

Claire is the glossily made-up, popular, rich mean-girl.

And Sebastian the millionaire’s petulant gay son.

Unfortunately I can’t say I adored any of these four. I mean, I didn’t hate any of them either, but for some reason I found them all rather ho-hum. (Perhaps I would have been more excited by them if I hadn’t grown up in the 80s and seen things like Pretty in Pink, or read things like Less Than Zero, both of which I kept thinking of as I read this especially.)

The one character I liked the most, in fact, was a minor one named Atticus. But then again, now that I think about it, his plot line wasn’t anything particularly original either.

The plot supposedly had a huge twist at the end (according to publicity) but I thought it was fairly predictable. To be honest, I wouldn’t even have classed the book as a mystery if the publishers hadn’t marked it that way.

In saying all this, the novel was enjoyable enough if I simply classify it as a drama; I did like the author’s style of writing; and it was an easy read with nice Australian language and settings.

I think my problem was I’m not a huge fan of the young adult genre anyway, and a lot of times the characters just made me feel depressingly old.

Finally, I would give a small warning and advise readers be in their late teens at least. There are many drug, alcohol, sex, and suicide scenes/references. (I think I’d recommend it for readers in their early 20s.)

3 to 3 1/2 stars from me, 4 if I was younger.


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