Well, this book was supposed to be my very first Early Review for Library Thing’s Early Reviewers group. The bad news is that I didn’t receive the book until one week after the publication date. The good news however, is that this book is readily available for purchase for all you lucky readers.
A few years ago, a friend of mine once told me that the very first line in the book is the most important line in the entire work. This is the sentence that is supposed to hook the reader, and leave the reader wanting to reading more. To this day, I always take in the first sentence to be a sort of thesis into how the rest of the book will carry through. Usually, I am not surprised.
First line: “Superman One?” The “odd boy” turned his face, never completely clean, toward the school building and Harvey watched his nose wrinkle as to a bad smell.
The Swap is the story of one’s man’s trade of a comic book, Superman One for a piece of tubing string in 1982. Fast forward 20 years, and the giver of the comic book, Harvey Briscow now owns his own comic book store and deeply regrets having traded Superman One. The comic book is now worth over $200,000. With the upcoming 20-year high school reunion, Harvey hopes to find the boy he traded the comic book with, and try to retrieve this valuable piece of comic-book history. What happens following the reunion is a murder mystery-love triangle-misunderstandings situation that is full of twists and turns all set in England, mostly Cornwall and London.
I would consider this work a black comedy. There are some very funny scenes, but the overall tone is dark and slightly depressing. The main character, Harvey, starts off very likable, but soon loses his appeal and comes off as lazy and rather lacking common sense. We see very little of the “odd boy” or “Bleeder” as he is rudely nicknamed all through school, even though the entire story revolves around him and the swap made with him back in 1982. To be honest, I think this novel was a little to short. There were a number of areas where I wished the author had expanded and added more detail too. I enjoyed Moore’s wit and fluid story-telling. Although the story is told mostly through Harvey’s perspective, there are instances when another character’s point of view is the main focus. I found those chapters to be a little distracting, because all my energies were focused on finding out what was going to happen to Harvey. The ending felt very rushed, considering what the entire novel was leading up to. Although not the most memorable novel I’ve read this year, I wouldn’t object to reading another Moore novel in the future.
FINAL GRADE: BThe Swap by Antony Moore Bantam Dell, 2008 ISBN 0385342346 262 pages