Punkzilla by Adam Rapp

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For a runaway boy who goes by the name “Punkzilla,” kicking a meth habit and a life of petty crime in Portland, Oregon, is a prelude to a mission: reconnecting with his older brother, a gay man dying of cancer in Memphis. Against a backdrop of seedy motels, dicey bus stations, and hitched rides, the desperate fourteen-year-old meets a colorful, sometimes dangerous cast of characters. And in letters to his sibling, he catalogs them all—from an abusive stranger and a ghostly girl to a kind transsexual and an old woman with an oozing eye. The language is raw and revealing, crackling with visceral details and dark humor, yet with each interstate exit Punkzilla’s journey grows more urgent; will he make it to Tennessee in time? Told in epistolary style, this daring novel offers a narrative worthy of Kerouac and a keen insight into the power of chance encounters.

About Adam Rapp

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Adam Rapp is a novelist, playwright, screenwriter, and filmmaker. He has written several young adult novels, including Punkzilla, The Buffalo Tree, and 33 Snowfish, and the adult novel, The Year of Endless Sorrows. His plays include Nocturne, the Pulitzer Prize finalist Red Light Winter, and The Metal Children. In 2005 he directed his first film, Winter Passing, starring Ed Harris, Zooey Deschanel and Will Ferrell.  George O’Connor is an author, illustrator and cartoonist. His graphic novel work includes Journey Into Mohawk Country, in which he illustrated the journal of the seventeenth-century Dutch trader Harmen Meyndertsz van den Bogaert, and his Olympians series, which retells the classic Greek myths in comics form. He has also published several children’s picture books, including the New York Times best-selling Kapow, Sally and the Some-Thing, and Uncle Bigfoot. He lives in Brooklyn, NY. 
Published March 12, 2010 by Candlewick. 256 pages
Genres: Young Adult, Literature & Fiction, Children's Books. Fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Punkzilla

Kirkus Reviews

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Fourteen-year-old Jamie (aka “Punkzilla” due to his love of the music) has gone AWOL from military school and is living in a halfway house in Portland, Ore., when he gets the news that his eldest brother Peter, a gay playwright, is dying of cancer in Memphis.

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Publishers Weekly

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Jamie, who has ADD, details every step (being taken advantage of sexually, getting jumped, befriending a female-to-male transsexual, losing his virginity) in expletive-filled, stream-of-consciousness narration with insights into seedy roadside America (“I think that as a general rule lonely peopl...

May 25 2009 | Read Full Review of Punkzilla

Teen Reads

Told in a series of letters to, but mostly from, Jamie, we learn why he was sent to Buckner military school, why he ran away from it but didn't go back to his parents in Ohio, and why P is also estranged from the rest of the family.Jamie's letters to P are all written in the notebook he carries w...

Oct 18 2011 | Read Full Review of Punkzilla

Common Sense Media

On the positive side, people help Jamie out, giving him rides and money. A boy Jamie knows sticks mechanical pencils in cats' anuses.

May 12 2009 | Read Full Review of Punkzilla

Fiction Writers Review

Brian Bartels sits down with Adam Rapp–prolific playwright, musician, director, and novelist–to talk about his latest book, Punkzilla, and the mysterious process by which the words we create are shaped by music.

May 18 2009 | Read Full Review of Punkzilla

ForeWord Reviews

There are other letters, arranged out of sequence, written to Jamie from his family and friends that help explain why Jamie makes some of the decisions he makes, but it is the letters he writes that really reveal the grim reality of where he is in life and just how far he might have to go to surv...

May 12 2009 | Read Full Review of Punkzilla

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