Title: The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid
Author: Bill Bryson
Page Count: 416
Bryson’s non-fiction is always a lot of fun to read, and this book was no different. What’s interesting, though, is that instead of focussing on travel writing as he usually does, this was instead a memoir about Bryson’s childhood adventures. That was cool in one sense, but in another sense I would have preferred to have had some travel writing from him, purely because that’s what he’s best at.
There’s also the Thunderbolt Kid gimmick, which I wasn’t particularly a fan of because I’m not much into superheroes in general. I get that it was his childhood fantasy and stuff and it did a good job of tying the book together, it’s just that I have different interests I guess. Plus it wasn’t really needed, and it ended up just feeling like a gimmick that Bryson relied on when he wasn’t too sure how to finish a chapter.
But I don’t want to complain too much, and in fact as a general rule, I did still really enjoy this. Bryson’s writing is always a pleasure, and I’m sure he could write about literally any subject and I’d still enjoy it. If anything, that’s kind of the gist of this review. I have less in common with Bryson when he’s writing about his upbringing as a kid in America than I do when he’s writing about the places that he’s visited.
And that’s kind of the problem here. I don’t really have anything else to say about this one and it was just okay, although at least it didn’t have any of the sort of inadvertent snootiness that’s ruined a couple of other Bryson books for me. Overall, it was eminently readable and I’m glad I picked it up, especially because it was for free from a little book exchange outside someone’s house, but it wasn’t quite as good as I was expecting.
If you’re a Bill Bryson fan then you’ll want to pick this one up of course, but at the same time I should warn you that it’s just so-so, and definitely not up to scratch if you compare it to some of his other stuff, and Notes from a Small Island in particular. If this was written by just anyone, it would’ve been fine. But because it’s by Bill Bryson, it’s a let down.