Tuesday, December 9, 2008

I Am the Cheese by Robert Cormier


I Am the Cheese may be the best thriller I've read in years. Whether this is a strong compliment because it's officially a YA novel, or faint praise because I don't read many thrillers, I'm not sure. Regardless, IATC gripped me from the second chapter and I finished it just a couple hours later.

The story, already summarized nicely by Chris and Carlton, follows the events surrounding Adam, a young man whose family is an inductee into the witness protection program. The narrative of the book is split, with about half consisting of transcripts of taped interviews and half chronicling Adam's bicycle journey from his home to Rutterberg, Vermont to see his father in the hospital. Things are not as they seem, however, and the final section of the book (along with a couple pages of government paperwork to clarify) turns everything on its head. For a YA book, the ending is somewhat ambiguous. At first glance, it appears that Adam's journey has been entirely fabricated in his mind, probably to deal with the trauma of losing his parents, but Cormier leaves open a couple other possibilities as well. It is possible that Adam is reliving something that actually happened at one time, and it seems equally possible that Adam is just mental and none of the book's events happened at all. It's never made explicit, and somehow that makes the last chapter even more chilling.

After reading The Chocolate War and I Am the Cheese, I'm impressed with Cormier's books. I'm planning to read a couple more of them, although I'm curious if they all hold to the nihilistic worldview presented in the books I've read. I'll touch more on the specifics in my review of The Chocolate War.

Also, I'm pretty sure this is the worst cover this book has ever had.


Carlton said...

From the cover of this book, you would assume that it was about someone biking across communist China.

Nihil Novum said...

It wasn't?

Christopher said...

Okay, now that the three of us have read it it might be okay to talk abotu the end now.

Nihil Novum said...

Ok. Let's go.

Anonymous said...

The inspiration:

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