Wednesday 23 June 2021

100 Remarkable Feats of Xander Maze

100 Remarkable Feats of Xander Maze by Clayton Zane Comber (HarperCollins) PB RRP $19.99 ISBN: 9781460759455

Reviewed by Dannielle Viera

When 15-year-old Xander Maze’s terminally ill grandmother asks him to make a list – his favourite thing to do – of 100 Remarkable Feats and then complete each one, he honestly believes that this is the key to saving her life. ‘Nanna needs me to achieve all 100 Remarkable Feats so she can get better,’ he tells his mother.

But some of the tasks are near impossible for the neuro-diverse Xander, especially #9 (‘Ask Ally Collins out on a date’). Nevertheless, in opening himself up to new experiences that are outside his mental comfort zone, Xander begins to change his life for the better – his grandmother’s real reason for encouraging him to create the list in the first place.

Clayton Zane Comber’s stunning second book (after Shooting Stars, his 2011 debut novel) is a compelling exploration of memory, relationships, and metamorphosis. By framing the chapters in a variety of ways – from straight narrative text to lists, letters, play scripts and breakout boxes – Clayton invites the reader deep into Xander’s unusual mind and forges a strong sense of empathy for the struggling protagonist.

We feel every physical and emotional jolt on Xander’s transformational journey as he confronts and connects with a stellar cast of supporting characters. And when the inevitable happens – Nanna passes away – the troubled teen’s sadness is palpable. But heartbreak walks hand in hand with hope, and the reader is left with the distinct impression that the Remarkable Feats have done their job – and that Xander’s grandmother would have been proud of him (ticking off #98 on the list).

Incredibly intriguing from the first page until the last, 100 Remarkable Feats of Xander Maze is a YA book for the modern age. It reassures anxious adolescent readers that the world is waiting to embrace them, if only they have the courage to take the first step.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Buzz Words Books would love to hear what you think.