I could call this book pretentious if I didn’t hate the word and like the book so much. Evey chapter is named after a respected novel (Brave New World, The Trial etc), there are numerous references to texts both real and imaginary during the story and it ends with a Test. It’s a very long book. It’s also very funny, clever and enjoyable. Blue Van Meer, the adolescent narrator, is very likable and tells her story with so much enthusiasm and so many unusual metaphors, the whole thing is a delight to read. It reminded me a lot of “The Basic Eight” by Daniel Handler, a book I’ve read twice this year because I love it so much. The two books have a similar narrator, an infectious smart-alecky style and a murder buried somewhere in both their plots. Handler’s book just about tops “Special Topics” purely because of length. He manages to introduce as many characters and obscure references in half the time, and is better for it.
I still prefer Handler's novel, and subsequent reading of Donna Tartt's "The Secret History" reveals both books great debt to Ms. Tartt, but I'm still curious about the forthcoming film adaptation of Special Topics.
Half Nelson-director Ryan Fleck will direct. He will also write the screenplay along with Anna Boden, with whom he worked with on Half Nelson. I didn't see that film, but it got good reviews and they're relative newcomers, which could be a positive.
The main thing I'm wondering (apart from the casting) is how they're going to adapt such a literary novel to the screen. Reading the book is like digesting an entire library on acid, while Cary Grant shouts at you.