Me and Mr. Cigar

Soho Teen. Jan. 2020. 256p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781616958121.
Gr 9 Up–In this debut novel from the lead singer of the band Butthole Surfers, Oscar’s best friend is his dog Mr. Cigar. When Oscar is 12, the pair run afoul of his sister’s boyfriend, Larry, who kicks Mr. Cigar to his death at the bottom of a bridge. Mr. Cigar resurrects and spawns a bat-like creature that can camouflage with its surroundings. After attacking Oscar’s sister Rachel and biting off her hand, the bat creature flies off, never to be seen again. Years later, Oscar is late in his teenage years and has become well known for throwing massive raves at his late father’s tech company. He’s also something of an amateur drug dealer and Mr. Cigar is still his constant companion. Eventually, a rogue government contractor recognizes Mr. Cigar and wants him back. That, coupled with cryptic phone calls from his sister Rachel in New York, convince Oscar to pack up Mr. Cigar and his human friend Lytle to embark on an impromptu road trip. Can he get away from the evil Colonel Sanders and save his sister in time? The author draws upon his own modest suburban upbringing in Texas in crafting the character of Oscar and his surroundings. The end result is unique, but also highly scattered. The narrative loses focus several times, in particular in a chapter where Oscar is slipped an acid tab by DJ Mike. Teens will no doubt appreciate the way that Oscar and Lytle talk to one another, as their organic dialogue repeatedly reflects modern adolescent immaturity and amazement. Some moments, as when Oscar and Lytle arrive in New York, buy their bikes, and explore Central Park, are a delight to read.
VERDICT This strange novel is a supplemental purchase for YA collections.

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