Every once in a long while I have to drag myself away from my own writing and check out the books around me. I’m glad I happened upon Spinner.
Spinner is an emotionally powerful story of a young boy, Alex, who has been spat on his whole life, in fact, life itself has spat on him. He is poor, crippled, abandoned, and lives unloved and unwanted with his most recent foster mom. And at school, he is nothing but a special needs kid, dismissed as worthless “crip.” What else could go wrong? Plenty. Alex is haunted by demons. No, literally demons are after him!
These demons talk to him through dreams, through animals, and even through inanimate objects. They have a special agenda for Alex, and Alex will have to summon all his powers in order to resist their malevolent scheme.
But what truly gives this story its power is the special abilities that Alex has – the ability to absorb and eliminate the pain and suffering of those around him. Alex is a healer. Barely aware of what that means, Alex comes to see himself as a freak. And why not? Everyone around him treats him as such, unable to truly appreciate the wonder that is right in front of them.
Fortunately, Alex does have a friend who transcends the shallowness of most of his peers, and appreciates Alex for what he is – a miracle. And with his friend and companions, he confronts his demons and learns a lot about love and friendship in the process.
Michael J. Bowler has written yet another poignant story that like his critically acclaimed Children of the Knight, features outcasts and rejects as the heroes of the story. He gives so much beauty and humanity to these characters that you can’t help but feel the injustice of a society that so often dismisses them as trash. Bowler is to be commended for seeing beauty, hope, and love, where others see nothing but garbage. And just as Bowler is able to show us the humanity of these outcast, Alex, eventually understands that he truly is a miracle himself.
Spinner is a frightening but touching tale for all fans of young adult, and it is a very special treat for those into horror and paranormal. Reading Spinner felt a lot to me like watching a Stephen King movie from the 1980s. I fully appreciated the nostalgia.