Book Report: Our highly scientific analysis of a book, from the characters to the writing style to the swoon. See More...

Solving Crimes Is Easier Than Feeling The Feelings

A review of Colin Fischer, a book about a crimesolving boy with Asperger's. This review includes photos of Benedict Cumberbatch and Coach Taylor.

Solving Crimes Is Easier Than Feeling The Feelings

BOOK REPORT for Colin Fischer by Ashley Edward Miller and Zack Stentz

Cover Story: Paging Wes Anderson
BFF Charm: Meh, But It's Nothing Personal
Swoonworthy Scale: 3
Talky Talk: Curious Incident's Little Brother
Bonus Factor: Sherlock Holmes, The Coach Eric Taylor Award
Relationship Status: You're A Nice Kid, But ...

Cover Story: Paging Wes Anderson

Doesn't this look like the poster for a Wes Anderson movie? Or at least the latest Michael Cera vehicle? I'm not saying it's bad at all -- it just might be trying a little too hard for hipster cred in the wake of Perks of Being a Wallflower's success, or maybe I've just gotten way too cynical. Hey, I'm open to all these options.

The Deal:

Ninth-grader Colin Fischer is tackling school alone for the first time. See, he has Asperger's syndrome, and has spent the last 8 years being shadowed by a helper named Marie, but now he's on his own. Armed with his trusty notebook and a cheat sheet of facial expressions, Colin is confident he can handle himself. He's surprisingly right, even when he lands right in the middle of a a criminal investigation and sets out to prove the school bully innocent of smuggling a gun into school, as well as develop a killer free throw.

BFF Charm: Meh, But It's Nothing Personal

I'm not discriminating against Colin because of his Asperger's -- I actually find his obsession with facts and trivia endearing and interesting. I just am really busy right now, and while he's a great kid, he IS just a kid. Besides, Colin's spent most of his life hanging out with only adults for friends, and I think it's about time he finds someone his own age. I'm totally happy to give him advice when it comes to charming Melissa, though, and I'll punch out his dickwad little brother any day of the week if he needs me to.

Swoonworthy Scale: 3

I've totally gotta give the authors props for introducing a real love interest to the story. Melissa is sweet, popular, and pretty, AND she genuinely likes Colin for who he is. There was some cute 9th-grade awkwardness, as well as a really sweet backstory towards the end, that gives me hope for the two crazy kids in the sequels, but Colin still hasn't totally come down out of the trees yet, as my dad is fond of saying. Melissa's light years ahead of Colin, while he's just starting to become aware of the potential for feelings for Melissa, and his typical clinical detachment doesn't help things along.

Talky Talk: Curious Incident's Little Brother

OK, so technically I haven't read The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime, but this is yet another book about an autistic kid that spends a lot of time getting into his mind and showing how kids with Asperger's think. It's interesting, and well written, and sometimes pretty funny. The authors do have a parlor trick, where every emotional facial expression is written in all-caps, which made me AMUSED, then EXASPERATED, and finally DISTRACTED and ANNOYED. It would have been a little better if it wasn't so heavy handed, but then again, this book was much more middle grade than YA, and so maybe subtlety's not so important.

Bonus Factor: Sherlock Holmes

Miller and Stentz actually make a compelling case for Holmes having Asperger's. He's Colin's hero, although he's totally misguided in his assessment of the best Holmes ever -- hello, can we all agree on Ben Cumberbatch? OK, thanks. And even if you don't like the modern update so much, I'd argue RDJ is way closer to the original, written Holmes than Basil Rathbone, despite the latter's iconic status as Holmes. Anyway, Colin's crime-solving methods are Holmesian and it's fun.

Bonus Factor: The Coach Eric Taylor Award

The gym coach gets the first ever FYA Coach Eric Taylor Award for his general awesomeness and his impact on his students. I didn't picture him as hot as Coach Taylor, nor does he handle Colin the same way Coach Taylor would, but he's amazing nonetheless, and was my favorite adult character in the book. Yay for awesome adults who have a positive impact on young people!

Casting Call:

Anton Yelchin as Colin

Even though he's too old (Logan Lerman's just too busy these days).

Emma Watson as Melissa

I'm not sure what Emma Watson's up to, but Prisoner of Azkaban-era Hermione, minus a little backbone, would make a brilliant Melissa.

Relationship Status: You're A Nice Kid, But ...

… I'm old enough to be your mother. Or at least your babysitter, and that's what I felt like when we hung out. You're a really great kid, and I'm proud of you. I know you'll get along like crazy with other kids your age -- in fact, I can't wait to introduce you to several 13 and 14-year-olds. I think you'd fit in well in a classroom library, and you'll be better off there than on my shelf. Stay sweet, kid, and I'll see you in my homeroom next year.

FTC Full Disclosure: I received my review copy from Razorbill.  I received neither money nor cocktails for writing this review (dammit!). Colin Fischer is available now.

Meghan Miller's photo About the Author: Meghan is an erstwhile librarian in exile from Texas and writer for Forever Young Adult. She loves books, cooking and homey things like knitting and vintage cocktails. Although she’s around books all the time, she doesn’t get to read as much as she’d like.