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Bookworm: DC Pierson's novel takes us into our teenage imaginations

By Kathleen Duncan
May 22, 2013 at 12:22 a.m.


Every young teen dreams of adventure - the adventures in their comic books, their novels, their favorite movies and in their imaginations. Darren Bennett is no exception.

Darren spends the end of every school period doodling in his notebook, creating a world full of aliens and cyborgs and mythical creatures. He doesn't have a lot of friends or social interactions until the day Eric Lederer walks up and asks him, "What were you drawing?"

From that moment onward, Darren and Eric are friends. They spend lunch and evenings after school together, inventing a universe full of temporal distortions, government conspiracies and cybernetic modifications on soldiers.

Their lives consist of disinterested parents, mean siblings and oblivious teachers. Eric hides from Darren's older brother and his friends, bullies who dress up as ninjas, speak in bad British accents and party too much.

Together they avoid their schoolmates, families and society in general as they go deeper and deeper into the imaginary universe they scrawl on paper every day.

One day, when Eric feels that Darren is ready, he tells him his biggest secret. Eric can't sleep. Ever. At first, Darren doesn't believe him. but as they start testing Eric's power, Darren is convinced and thrilled. The world is a place with actual unexplained phenomena in it. It is grand and mysterious, just as he always hoped.

Though "The Boy Who Couldn't Sleep and Never Had To" by DC Pierson is a teenage romp of a story, it wasn't quite what I expected. Despite that, it was imaginative and entertaining, and you get sucked into their awkward teenage existence quite easily.

There are moments of clarity in their imaginings when we can sympathize greatly with these characters. One of the most touching moments is when Darren experiences his first betrayal.

"I guess it is only a little bit of a surprise that people have these hidden personality explosions where they turn out to be someone entirely different than who you thought they were."

We can all relate to that moment when we realize that just because someone is our friend, it doesn't mean that they can't hurt us in a way we never thought possible.

But in the true spirit of young friendship, Darren and Eric rise above their problems to save each other from evil corporations and corrupted government officials. They lay plans, foil enemies and run, run, run from those pursuing them.

The universe these boys build is completely their own, and by the end, no one - not even the reader - can tell what is truly real.

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