I’ve now read two of the three books written by Scott Heim. I watched the film Mysterious Skin before I read the book, simply because I did not know it was a book until after having watched the film. Brady Corbet spoke about the book in the dvd extras section. The film had really got to me. Not only the amazing performances of Joseph Gordon Levitt (my favourite actor) and Brady Corbet, but for the way it was filmed, the subject, everything about it.
So I read Mysterious Skin. The film is very close to the book. The book is more in depth, and in some ways I think the film is more successful than the book because it holds things back that the book delves right into. The film is certainly the subtler of the two. However, I found Mysterious Skin to be an awesome read. The way the vantage points flick between characters really worked, in my opinion. Heim’s style is cool. It’s rare for me to find novels that are actually cool, that can contend with films, TV, music. Don’t give teenagers shit like Twilight to read, give them stuff like Mysterious Skin.
We Disappear is just as good. I couldn’t put it down, and like with Mysterious Skin, the style was cool. Obviously it was less harrowing than Mysterious Skin. I did feel that We Disappear went deeper than Mysterious Skin, and Heim had got a little better at writing, his style more honed. I felt We Disappear outwitted me at times, kept me on my toes, whereas Mysterious Skin didn’t, perhaps partly because I already knew how it ended, having seen the film first.
Both these novels are examples of fresh writing, vibrant/ interesting characters, gritty subject matters. For this reason I think they are good for young people to read (17+). Heim’s style is flawed. It is by no means perfect. The characters in Mysterious Skin alternate the narration, but each chapter has the same narrative voice, despite the fact that different characters are narrating from chapter to chapter. This didn’t bother me, because their different personalities were crisp and obvious enough from their actions, rather than their narrative voices. Heim tends to over explain some parts, gives the reader too much detail sometimes. But again, I think this is part of what makes the books cool. They are not perfect, they are rough around the edges and that suits the subject matter and the audience.