I Read a Book
Hello, Internet! Cole here. Recently, I read a book called Population: One. It was about the author, Tyler McNamer, and his life experiences with Autism. In my opinion, the book needed a bit of work. I didn’t hate it, but it wasn’t without its share of noticeable problems. Naturally, I’m going to write my thoughts about the book in this article; otherwise, I would have just been wasting words with the other sentences in the article.
Population: One is categorized by the bookstore as a self-help book, but I don’t fully consider it as such. The book is more like an unusual sort of autobiography – each chapter is about a different subject regarding Tyler’s own life. For example, in one chapter he focuses on the divorce of his parents, and in another chapter he talks about the time he tried to start a club around an ice-cream eating competition. The chapters themselves are written in a stream-of-consciousness style that follows his thoughts wherever they go and only drops off when he thinks it’s time to stop.
Though I gave a slightly negative review overall in the introduction, I believe that the book had some entertaining qualities. Tyler’s life is somewhat interesting, at least compared to mine: he’s experienced his parents’ divorce , he’s had to deal with bullying and negativity in his school , and he’s even had to fight in self-defense . As such, his life provides decent fodder for a semi-autobiography. The writing is down-to-earth and realistic, allowing the reader to better empathize with Tyler and his thoughts. The book provided me insight into what it would be like to have more severe Autism, and I respect it for that.
However, the negative qualities of the book greatly hampered my ability to enjoy it. For example, part of the reason I thought that the writing was realistic was that Tyler wasn’t the best at it. The grammar was a bit wonky in places and somewhat basic for the most part, and the use of colloquial speech bothered me – maybe I’m just a prude, but I got anxious whenever I saw the word “dude”. (Hey, I made a rhyme. Guess I’m in my prime. I’m a spiritual lyrical miracle individual skippin and flippin and dippin and slippin…). According to the introduction, Tyler’s original style was left in the novel to provide greater insight into how he thinks, and I can respect that; the book is more about Tyler’s perspective than about the technical aspects of writing. I’m simply delivering my own opinion of the novel here, and my brain simply couldn’t help pointing out all the rocky parts.
Rough prose aside, I also thought that the book lacked direction overall. Because of the aforementioned stream-of-consciousness writing style, the ideas in each chapter didn’t necessarily build towards anything. Instead, the paragraphs mostly swarmed around the main topic and attached to it in sequence. At the end of the book, I wasn’t quite sure what I was supposed to take away from the experience; I ultimately took away the idea that one should try to be oneself instead of striving to be what one is not, but I doubt that idea encompasses everything in the novel. Perhaps the intent was that everyone could take something different away from the novel, but that just irks me in a different way. I believe that Tyler should have focused on one idea and attempted to flesh it out in his writing; as it stands, I felt like a lot of ideas fell to the wayside as a result of haphazard placement.
In conclusion, while the book wasn’t awful, it wasn’t necessarily good either. There clearly was room for improvement, particularly with clarity of purpose and with writing style. As such, I have to give this book a 4.75 out of the square root of 103. (Three significant digits, if you’d please.) And Tyler, if you’re reading this somewhere on the Internet, please: don’t ever stop writing. You are a great person, and even though some aspects of your book rubbed me the wrong way, I still enjoyed reading about your life. Keep writing, improving, and building up your own world, and I’ll do mine. Thanks for reading, Internet, and I’ll be seeing ya’!
McNamer, Tyler. Population: one. Lake Placid, NY: Aviva Publishing, 2013. Print.
Cole is our young adult monthly contributor. He is an incredible asset to all of us. He is in the IT program in Henrico County, has Asperger’s and is also an animal whisperer.