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Review: The Scar Boys

March 28, 2014

The Scar Boys

When he sits down to write his college essay, Harry Jones finds that he can’t comply with the 250 word limit and proceeds to pour out his life story to the college admissions officers, and what a story it is!  When Harry was eight years old, bullies tied him to a tree during a thunderstorm.  The tree was struck by lightening and Harry was severely burned, leaving him disfigured.

Between doctors’ visits and teasing, Harry’s life is pretty lonely until he gets to middle school and Johnny, one of the popular kids, defends and befriends him.  The two become close and, with two others, eventually form a band, naming it The Scar Boys, after Harry.  The summer after their senior year of high school, they decide to book a tour and take their band on the road.  That summer turns out to be a pivotal point in all of their lives.

The Scar Boys, by Len Vlahos, has so many elements I adore so I went into it expecting to love it.  I ended up liking it quite a bit but I can’t say I truly loved it.  I think the book just didn’t quite live up to its potential.

Harry has been through so much but, for the most part, it hasn’t brought him down.  He’s teased and stared at and usually manages to ignore it, especially after he and Johnny become friends.  Johnny is one of those kids that has it all with seemingly little effort – he’s smart, popular, and athletic.  He accepts Harry the way he is, making things easier for Harry.  I liked both Harry and Johnny but wish they (especially Johnny) had been better developed.

I really liked the fact that Vlahos addressed bullying in this book and showed how one person can make a difference to someone who’s being bullied.  I also like the way he portrayed friendship.  Harry and Johnny were great friends, but their friendship wasn’t without its struggles.

The road trip was great fun!  Things weren’t always well thought out so there were problems along the way.  Watching the band members deal with, and learn from, those problems was the best part of the book.  Things definitely weren’t easy but they did a lot of growing up and learned a lot about themselves.

I listened to the audio version of the book and it was a treat to hear some of the band’s songs performed.  I loved the fact that the author actually played the guitar during the songs!  The Scar Boys was narrated by Lincoln Hoppe.  This is the second time I’ve listened to his narration and he’s not my favorite.  I think his delivery is too slow and flat for me.  I do wonder if his narration affected my enjoyment of the book.  The audio book is on 6 CDs and lasts approximately 6 and a half hours.

kid konnection newI will link this up to Booking Mama’s Saturday feature, Kid Konnection. If you’d like to participate in Kid Konnection and share a post about anything related to children’s books (picture, middle grade, or young adult) from the past week, leave a comment as well as a link on her site tomorrow.

Review copy provided by Random House.  I am an Indiebound Affliate.
17 Comments leave one →
  1. March 28, 2014 7:08 am

    This one sounds like a mixed bag on audio — I love it that the author plays guitar but too bad the narrator wasn’t more expressive.

  2. March 28, 2014 9:31 am

    Too bad about the audio – I “hear” what you mean about slow. Adding the band’s music sounds like a nice touch.

  3. Patty permalink
    March 28, 2014 10:13 am

    What an interesting audio this has to be…to listen to the band!

  4. March 28, 2014 12:08 pm

    I hate when a book does not live up to its potential.

  5. March 28, 2014 12:09 pm

    The beginning sounds a bit like The Spectacular Now.

  6. March 28, 2014 12:35 pm

    I love the fact that you got to hear some of the music on the audiobook, that adds so much to the enjoyment of the book.

  7. lab1990 permalink
    March 28, 2014 2:26 pm

    Sorry you didn’t love this, but it does sound like an intriguing novel with an interesting focus on bullying.

    Lauren from

  8. March 28, 2014 7:06 pm

    This book sounds really good! I think I’m going to wishlist it, but I will look for the book instead. Bad narrators mess my reading.

  9. March 28, 2014 7:13 pm

    The band on audio sounds good. I do think the narrator can affect the overall enjoyment of the story.

  10. March 28, 2014 8:39 pm

    This sounds very compelling–sorry it didn’t quite live up to your expectations, although you did enjoy it.

  11. March 28, 2014 9:11 pm

    Just as there are narrators that are always solid there are others that grate on my nerves. Too bad the narration wasn’t better.

  12. March 29, 2014 5:29 am

    I like the sound of this book. thanks for sharing it

  13. March 29, 2014 3:26 pm

    This sounds like a really good story, and with music too! But with a narration that is flat and slow…not good for what seems to be a YA story.

  14. March 29, 2014 4:21 pm

    This sounds interesting- I am going to look for it in book format 🙂

  15. March 29, 2014 4:56 pm

    The book sounds good, but think I’d rather read it instead of listen to it. I have a hard time with audio books if the narration isn’t all that great.

  16. March 29, 2014 6:52 pm

    Very interesting about the narrator. I definitely think that can make a difference.

  17. March 30, 2014 12:20 am

    What you have described in the beginning sounds really interesting. Is this a YA book? Too bad it doesn’t fully gratify. But the premise sure is appealing. “The Scar Boys” is deep. 🙂

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