Thoughts on The Tragic Age By Stephen Metcalfe

How it Stacks Up....
★1/2//50%//310 pages//teen fiction
So What's It About?
This is the story of Billy Kinsey, heir to a lottery fortune, part genius, part philosopher and social critic, full time insomniac and closeted rock drummer. Billy has decided that the best way to deal with an absurd world is to stay away from it. Do not volunteer. Do not join in. Billy will be the first to tell you it doesn't always work- not when your twin sister, Dorie, has died, not when your unhappy parents are at war with one another, not when frazzled soccer moms in two ton SUVs are more dangerous than atom bombs, and not when your guidance counselor keeps asking why you haven't applied to college.
Billy's life changes when two people enter his life. Twom Twomey is a charismatic renegade who believes that truly living means going a little outlaw. Twom and Billy become one another's mutual benefactor and friend. At the same time, Billy is reintroduced to Gretchen Quinn, an old and adored friend of Dorie's. It is Gretchen who suggests to Billy that the world can be transformed by creative acts of the soul.
With Twom, Billy visits the dark side. And with Gretchen, Billy experiences possibilities.
Billy knows that one path is leading him toward disaster and the other toward happiness. The problem is-Billy doesn't trust happiness. It's the age he's at. The tragic age.
Stephen Metcalfe's brilliant, debut coming-of-age novel, The Tragic Age, will teach you to learn to love, trust and truly be alive in an absurd world.
Just a Disclaimer...
I received a review copy of this book from St. Martin's Griffin in exchange for a review. This, however, does not affect my opinion or ability to express my opinion in any way, shape, or form. 

I want to start out this review by saying that this was something very very unique. In the writing, in the general concept, and the very different characters. I read that the author was a screenwriter before writing this book, which I guess gives him a special flair in the world of YA fiction.

The characters in this book, as I said earlier, are very unique. They all had very distinct voices that had been very clearly developed. The only characters I cared for were Billy and Ephram. I really liked Ephram. Not because of anything he did or achieved, but because of a unique pity that was brought out of me due to his character. I hated that everyone treated him like crud on the bottom of your shoe. Ephram was special, he was important, and he could achieve lots of things if only you helped him towards it. He had a pressure and a need that no one understood, and he needed help that no one around him could give him.

Billy had a random spout of facts throughout the whole narration, which kept my inner nerd satisfied. I liked the Billy that was buried underneath the coat, the Billy that worked hard, was intelligent and perspective, but unfortunately that Billy was not given to us until very far into The Tragic Age.

I didn’t like how Billy didn’t apply himself, and didn’t use what he had been given. He settled for less than his best, and I know that it makes me sound weird when I say this, but I despise it when people don’t apply themselves. You should do everything you can to achieve everything you can. However, I could see why Billy didn’t apply himself. He was hurt. He was grieving. Bily needed help, and everyone around him was also too broken to help him. Billy also gave us a very unique POV that only comes from a very gifted writer.

The writing in this book has a particular intrigue that not many give off. The Tragic Age's intrigue was one that I enjoyed. The Tragic Age manages to pass off depression and hardship as light and able to be understood. The writing also made the plot a little bit easier to deal with.

The plot was very slow moving, which worked for the most part, but not always. I feel like the plot didn’t have much too it, revealing the author’s past. Movies don’t always have the most plot and things going on in them, and the author is a screenwriter. The Tragic Age also had a very little climax, totaling at about twenty pages, and it wasn’t even that interesting. The climax didn’t feel too important, and just didn’t make me feel anything. The Tragic Age is one of those books that has great writing, so you don’t always care about the lack of plot.

Overall, The Tragic Age had some great things, such as the beautifully crafted writing and the thoughtfully fleshed out characters. The characters were all developed throughout the course of the book, whether it be for the better or the worse. I either felt annoyance, pity, or nothing at all for the characters. The overall plot was very slow moving and sometimes made the book quite boring for me. The Tragic Age lacked a general point to me. It had eloquent writing and was very drawn out for no particular reason. In conclusion, I wouldn’t recommend this to everyone, but to some people with quirky reading tastes.

Have you read The Tragic Age? Did you have any similar likes or dislikes to mine? Tell me what  you thought of The Tragic Age or my review in the comments below. 


  1. This is such an interesting book, and that cover is honestly gorgeous HAHA. I'm sorry that this book disappointed you :( When I read the first part of the book, I actually thought Billy was an intriguing protagonist, but it's really sad how he didn't seem to impress you in the story. I still might want to check this out because I'm sort of curious? Haha. It sounds so new to me, though :) I hope you read a much better and interesting book than this, Veronica!

    Jillian @ Jillian's Books

    1. I would give The Tragic Age a read if you think you have a reading taste that allows for books such as this one. My reading taste is obviously not quirky enough for this book. I'm reading Heir of Fire right now and really enjoying it, so hopefully it turns out better than this one.


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