Adventure, Did Not Finish

Review: The Selected Works of T.S. Spivet

The Selected Works of T.S. Spivet book cover
Image from KPBS

Title:  The Selected Works of T. S. Spivet

Author:  Reif Larsen

Genre:  Adventure

Back Cover:

When genius cartographer T.S. Spivet receives a phone call from the Smithsonian announcing he has won the prestigious Baird Award, a wild cross-country adventure beings.  T.S. sets out alone from his family’s Montana ranch, hopping a freight train with a plan to hobo it east to Washington D.C.  What follows is nothing short of extraordinary, as T.S. maps, charts, and illustrates his adventure – including mythical wormholes in the Midwest, the pleasures of McDonald’s, and a family secret accidentally included in his luggage.  But through it all, a nagging doubt lingers in T.S.’s mind.  What will happen when the director of the Smithsonian finds out their Baird Award recipient is only twelve years old?


I must be feeling nostalgic or something, because I seem to be doing an awful lot of rereads lately.  Anyway, I loved this story when I was twelve-ish, so I decided to read it again and see if it still had the same appeal.

The short answer: No.

I gave it a hundred pages, and then I stopped.  It wasn’t that I hated the book, I just got kind of bored.  Possibly, it was because this was a reread and I knew what would happen – not the details, mind you, but the general scheme of things.

But I think my biggest problem was with T.S. himself.  It’s not that I didn’t like him – he was naive, but sweet.  My problem was that he was a twelve-year-old boy, and acted it.  I know it sounds mean, but I just felt like I’d outgrown him.  His pre-teen observations and imagination that appealed to me at twelve just didn’t have the same appeal at sixteen.

He also had a habit of going off on random rabbit trails, including notes and diagrams and maps of really random things in the book’s margins.  These side notes were one of the reasons I’d originally loved this book so much.  This time around, I just found them annoying.

This is the kind of book that’s better for younger readers.  Like I said, I absolutely loved this book as a pre-teen.  It just isn’t the greatest for older readers.


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