Book Review: Henry Franks by Peter Adam Salomon

13490787Title: Henry Franks
Author: Peter Adam Salomon
Genre: YA, psychological thriller
Publisher: Flux
Publication Date: September 2012
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Review copy provided by the publisher in exchange for honest review.

A dark, psychological thriller about a boy’s search for himself

Four thousand, three hundred and seventeen stitches, his father had told him once. All the King’s horses and all the King’s men had put Henry Franks back together again.

One year ago, a terrible accident robbed Henry Franks of his mother and his memories. The past sixteen years have vanished. All he has now are scars and a distant father—the only one who can tell Henry who he is.

If he could trust his father.

Can his nightmares—a sweet little girl calling him Daddy, murderous urges, dead bodies—help him remember?

While a serial killer stalks their small Georgia town, Henry unearths the bitter truth behind his mother’s death—and the terrifying secrets of his own dark past.

Sometimes, the only thing worse than forgetting is remembering.

Henry Franks is one of the most disturbing, twisted, intriguing stories I’ve ever read. From page one, my heart went out to the charming albeit timid, sincere, sensitive, intelligent protagonist, Henry. After a terrible car accident that killed his mother and wiped all of his memories, Henry is forever scarred – and not just emotional. His entire body is riddled with scars and stitches, and when he pricks his fingers he doesn’t feel pain. As a young adult going through all this terror, Henry feels very lonely, and his psychiatrist isn’t of much help. Neither is his Dad, a workaholic who buries himself under piles of work and goes as far as to bring the work home as well. Thank God Henry has Justine, a nextdoor neighbor of his age, or his social interactions would’ve been nihil. But something terrible is happening in the small island community. Police has found quite a few murder victims, all murdered in gruesome, terrifying ways. And somehow, Henry’s scars and memory loss may be connected to the murders…

The cast of characters is small and straightforward, which only adds to the strength of the book. I like books that don’t have an impressive chain of characters coming along, but instead focus only on a few important ones. It leaves time to get to learn the characters better. Henry is a protagonist who is totally unique, and instantly relatable. Suffering from memory loss, he struggles to find back those missing years. Plus, when he starts having strange dreams about a little girl calling him Daddy, he fears something may be very wrong. He isn’t your typical handsome sixteen-year-old stud who charms the hearts of many girls. Instead, he’s bullied, shyed away from, and apart from Justine, doesn’t have any friends. I felt so sorry for him, at times I just wanted to hug him and tell him everything will be all right. Other times, I was on the verge of tears for what was happening. It’s excellent writing when an author can make you feel all that for a character.

Henry’s Dad is another story all together. I felt instantly there was more to the man than meets the eye. I hated him for how he treated Henry – disinterested – and the choices he made through life, but from another point of view, I kind of understood why he acted the way he did, and I actually felt sorry for him as well. Sometimes there are no easy choices.

I loved Justine however. Unlike many other teenage girls, Justine manages to look past the scars and stitches, and see the boy underneath, an intelligent, caring individual who deserves to be loved. I applaud her for the brave choices she made, sometimes without even realizing it. Her relationship with Henry was probably one of the sweetest YA relationships I’ve ever read. All characters in this book were equally strong in terms of characterization, but in terms of personality, Justine was without a doubt the strongest.

Not only does author Peter Adam Salomon deliver an intriguing set of characters, he also delivers an excellent, sharp, fast-paced plot that left me on the egde of my seat. You can’t read this book and stop halfway through, it’s simply impossible. The story pulled me in, enthralling and mysterious as it was, and didn’t let me go till far beyond the ending. This is the kind of book you have to let sink in. You have to ponder the meaning of it, of what happened, and it takes some time to realize you’ve actually finished reading.

Those who read my reviews often know that I don’t give out 5-star ratings often. However, Henry Franks truly deserves it. This book takes YA fiction and lifts it to a whole new level. Who needs paranormal demons and supernatural ghosts when the true evil can be far more mundane, and all the more horrifying? The story reminded me of Frankenstein in the sense that it too investigates the nature of what is evil, and asks the question who the monster truly is. And, of course, the names used are a playful wink to the original Frankenstein story as well.

The ending was a nice surprise, although I did guess some parts right about what would happen. I always enjoy when a story manages to surprise me at the end.

Strong writing, excellent plot and intriguing characters. Don’t miss out on Henry Franks or you’ll regret it. This is a true gem in YA literature, and I can’t recommend it enough.

Comments

  1. Claudia Salomon says:

    Tank you for the wonderful review of my son’s work

  2. Things did happen fast, sometimes too fast, especially the ending. I would have never guessed that one. Interesting, unique book. Great review.

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