Book Review: Boo by Neil Smith

Boo by Neil SmithBoo: What it is about

From the publishers: “It is the first week of school in 1979, and Oliver “Boo” Dalrymple—ghostly pale eighth grader; aspiring scientist; social pariah—is standing next to his locker, reciting the periodic table. The next thing he knows, he finds himself lying in a strange bed in a strange land. He is a new resident of a place called Town—an afterlife exclusively for thirteen-year-olds. Soon Boo is joined by Johnny Henzel, a fellow classmate, who brings with him a piece of surprising news about the circumstances of the boys’ deaths.

In Town, there are no trees or animals, just endless rows of redbrick dormitories surrounded by unscalable walls. No one grows or ages, but everyone arrives just slightly altered from who he or she was before. To Boo’s great surprise, the qualities that made him an outcast at home win him friends; and he finds himself capable of a joy he has never experienced. But there is a darker side to life after death—and as Boo and Johnny attempt to learn what happened that fateful day, they discover a disturbing truth that will have profound repercussions for both of them.

Hilarious and heartwarming, poignant and profound, Boo is a unique look at the bonds of friendship in what is, ultimately, a book about finding your place in the world—be it this one, or the next.

Boo: What I thought

This book is narrated by a 13-year-old, but it’s very much a book for young adults and adults. This heaven is a very original heaven. It’s far from perfect. The children fight and quarrel, just like they did before. Also, the items around them, such as furniture, utensils, etc. are all clearly second or third hand. Food and goods arrive as if by magic once everything in the warehouse has been used up.

Boo isn’t finding life there all that bad, but when his friend Johnny starts an investigation of what happened to them, he joins in and the adventure starts. Unfortunately, things don’t go well for Johnny, and the story shows what may happen if a large group of 13-year-olds turns against you. It’s not pretty!

A quick and fun read and highly original. For anyone who wants a change of reading scenery.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars (good)

Number of pages: 310

First published: 2015

I got this: from my local Random House representative

Genre: Fantasy, YA


About Judith
I'm owner and editor at and We edit books and articles for independent writers.

6 Responses to Book Review: Boo by Neil Smith

  1. I have this in the TBR pile, but I worried it might be a bit weird. It’s good to see you enjoyed it. I’ll hopefully let you know my thoughts soon!

    • Leeswammes says:

      It’s weird, Jackie, but not very much so. I’m not sure I would read it if someone in my surroundings had died recently, but otherwise, a good and fun read.

  2. I’m intrigued! I’ve had an ARC for a while, but thought it might be too quirky — I’m glad to hear you enjoyed it.

  3. I like that cover much more than our one. I had imagined it was for younger readers so good to know it’s got more appeal than that.

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