Carson Phillips knows exactly what he wants in life, and sticking around his hometown of Clover is not in his plans. In order to achieve his goals, he needs to go to Northwestern University. In order to get into Northwestern, he needs to accomplish something unique—like starting a literary journal at his high school. The only problem? He can't even get anyone to write for the school newspaper. But Carson has spent almost eighteen years in Clover, and he and his friend Malerie observe things that other people might miss. And Carson is so bent on getting accepted, he won't rise above blackmailing his fellow students to get what he wants...
Carson Phillips is a hilarious and sarcastic character and his misadventures in Struck by Lightning won't fail to amuse and entertain readers. Colfer tells Carson's story in a journal format, which is a little choppy, but this choppiness is perhaps appropriate considering the form. The characterization develops gradually, as does the plot, but readers won't mind terribly; Colfer's writing reads like a string of genuinely funny stand-up comedy routines with surprisingly acute insights on life and high school. The actual blackmail part of the story unfolds nicely and is a bit sly and a little unrealistic, but readers won't help but feel a little bit triumphant for Carson as he finally stands up to the people that have pushed him around for years and starts figuring out life. Of course, life never works out the way one expects, which is something that Carson struggles with, especially at the end of the novel, leading up to the surprising ending. Struck by Lightning is unexpected, unconventional, and perhaps a bit unrealistic, but incredibly witty and satisfying nonetheless.
Cover Comments: I love how the broken pencil is arranged to look like lightning--very smart. This cover has a movie poster feel, which isn't entirely surprising considering the audience or author, but it turned out well. I like it a lot.