Jack Tumor [NOOK Book]


Hector is being hectored by an unlikely bully: a talking brain tumor. And it’s not just a talking brain tumor. It’s a know-it-all, pain-in-the-arse, jibber-jabbering brain tumor that names itself Jack, and insists on coaching Hector through life even as it’s threatening to take his life away. It’s a pretty good coach, actually. With Jack in control of Hector’s speech and brain chemicals, Hector suddenly finds himself with a cool haircut, a new fashion sense, and tactics for snogging previously unattainable hottie...

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Jack Tumor

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Hector is being hectored by an unlikely bully: a talking brain tumor. And it’s not just a talking brain tumor. It’s a know-it-all, pain-in-the-arse, jibber-jabbering brain tumor that names itself Jack, and insists on coaching Hector through life even as it’s threatening to take his life away. It’s a pretty good coach, actually. With Jack in control of Hector’s speech and brain chemicals, Hector suddenly finds himself with a cool haircut, a new fashion sense, and tactics for snogging previously unattainable hottie Uma Upshaw. But when Jack begins to force increasingly questionable decisions and behavior, Hector has to find a way to turn the tables – before it’s too late for both of them.

Delightfully twisted, desperately funny, and deeply moving, this novel is also the winner of the Booktrust Teenage Prize in the United Kingdom.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

Fourteen-year-old Hector has no shortage of problems: "My mum was a hippie, my dad was nowhere, my school was a dung heap; I was bullied by Neanderthals and ignored by the girls, and my friends were the Wretched of the Earth." But when he learns he has a brain tumor-a vocal one, no less, that waxes philosophical and occasionally assumes control of Hector's movements-he may have hit rock bottom. Except that "Jack Tumor" helps Hector "snog" the hottest chick around, humiliate the school bullies and transform his normally spaced-out mom into something resembling normal. Though the story can ramble painfully, McGowan injects plenty of humor, phallic references and British slang into this edgy coming-of-age tale. His story is geared toward male teens who will get the many sexual innuendos, though when he's not lusting after girls, Hector's musings seem pretty mature for his age. As Hector grapples with love, friendship and death, a broad range of readers should find the trip worth it. Ages 12-up. (Apr.)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
School Library Journal

Gr 8-10

This story swings between laugh-out-loud funny and tastelessly raunchy. Hector and his nerdy friends are losers, bullied at school, and don't stand a chance with any of the popular girls after whom they lust. Hector's fainting, vomiting, and headaches send him to a doctor; a brain tumor is diagnosed. The teen's often annoying, amoral tumor, introducing himself as "Jack," berates Hector into improving himself with a cool haircut, new fashion sense, and strategies for snogging the class hottie, Uma Upshaw (whose initials even look like "bra-busters"). In many ways Hector is a typical geeky teenager. His comments on life are often wise, sensitive, and hilarious; his first-person narrative voice is pitch-perfect. His Valium-addicted hippie mom provides a lot of opportunities for his humorous observations. Hector's fear about what is happening to him is palpable and draws empathy. An operation will mean the end of Hector or Jack or both of them. The love-hate relationship between Hector and his alter ego is engaging. But, the abundant penis jokes, sex gags, farting, and use of the f-word and other profanities are over-the-top. One tires of distended testicles, pubic lice, anal probes. The message that brain cancer need not mean the end of one's life and can actually help a teenager stop worrying about his peers is a good one. Too bad the message, Hector's insightful humor, and his love-hate relationship with Jack are buried in so much vulgarity.-Connie Tyrrell Burns, Mahoney Middle School, South Portland, ME

Kirkus Reviews
Sarcastic, goofy D-lister Hector Brundy needs a makeover. His consultant? A talking brain tumor named Jack who's full of advice on what to wear, how to talk to girls and other important activities that boys need to learn. Jack's recommendations grow more dangerous as the tumor in Heck's head worsens. McGowan's jokey sense of humor outweighs his other writing abilities in every sense. If teen readers can wrap their head around his bizarre and frankly ridiculous plot, they'll definitely get a taste of raucous, uncouth, sidesplitting and occasionally gross-out humor that should keep them snickering for weeks. Heck and his band of dopey friends, whose hilarious nicknames feel straight out of Superbad, feel fully conceived in their raw, teenage-boy essence. A British import, the narrative contains many references that American teens might not understand, but who cares with a concept like this? Lots of laughs but little else. (Fiction. YA)
From the Publisher
“Hector confronts both his hormones and his mortality with wisdom.” —Starred, Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books

“McGowan laces plenty of pratfalls, Brit-slang, libidinous adolescent chatter, and stock comic supporting characters into his tale, but centers it around a protagonist (or two, depending on how one counts) so intelligent, vulnerable, and generally decent that readers will be won over.” —Booklist

“Lots of laughs.” —Kirkus Reviews

“The love-hate relationship between Hector and his alter ego is engaging.” —School Library Journal

“McGowan injects plenty of humor.” Publishers Weekly

"The most interesting part of the book is definitely the character, Jack Tumor . . . The boy and brain tumor conversations make you keep on reading."—A YALSA YA Galley Teen Reader

"This book is funny."—A YALSA YA Galley Teen Reader

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781429947541
  • Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
  • Publication date: 4/27/2009
  • Sold by: Macmillan
  • Format: eBook
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 304
  • Age range: 12 - 17 Years
  • Lexile: 890L (what's this?)
  • File size: 532 KB

Meet the Author

ANTHONY MCGOWAN has written books for children, teens, and adults. His previous young adult novel, Hellbent, was declared “a brilliantly nauseating thriller” by the London Times. He lives in North London.

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Read an Excerpt

Well, that’s what I heard. I don’t know if that’s what he really said because that was his .rst word and I don’t know if he was just learning to speak then or if maybe I was learning to hear but that’s what it sounded like.
I stopped what I was doing. What I was doing was reading, although I wasn’t really reading, more just turning over the pages with the letters .oating around like astronauts in zero gravity.
I must have said it aloud because some of the other people in the waiting room looked around at me. A woman with big hair and a face like a collapsed lung shuf.ed her chair a few centime­ters further away from me, like that was going to make a differ­ence if I was going to turn psycho and stab her. In fact, it raised my wanting-to-stab-her score by about 72 percent.
Whoever had said arsecheese the .rst time didn’t say it again, and I assumed I’d imagined it. I’d been imagining a lot of things lately and that was one of the reasons I was there. Not the main reason. The main reason was that I’d had headaches so bad I thought the little dude from Alien was going to burst out of my eye socket. The .rst one came on while I was watching a music video, and my mum thought I was freaking out to the music, but really I was writhing around on the .oor in agony. Shows how my mum’s really got her .nger on the pulse of popular culture.
I’d been in the clinic since nine o’clock. It was boring, but I didn’t mind too much as it meant that I wasn’t at school. Except that at school there’d be my friends to keep me company, and not this load of derelicts and mutants. Apart from the lung-faced lady with the big hair, there was a man who looked like a scrunched-up brown paper bag, and another with a beard that started at his eyebrows and went down to his stained crotch, and a boy with a featureless head like a balloon, and a youngish woman who looked like all her bones had been taken out and then put back in the wrong place, and a purple-haired old biddy who had something similar going on with her teeth (I mean, big ones like molars at the front and small sharp pointy ones at the back, and I knew all about her teeth because she kept smiling at me, as if I was the freak here, the one in need of sympathy).
“Hector Brunty.”
“Er, yeah.”
That was me. I mean, that was me responding to a nurse in a brown nylon uniform like something you’d .nd adorning one of the mildly retarded—I mean “special”—shelf-stackers in a Tesco supermarket. You know, the ones who, when you ask them where the beans are, .rst take you to the Thomas the Tank Engine toddler ride and then start shouting at you about sausage.
I stood up. The nurse smiled at me, and for the .rst time I began to understand that my life was going to become less pleasant. At the time my best estimate was about 26 percent less pleasant, but I’ve since recalculated and it currently stands at between 98 and 99 percent less pleasant (you have to allow a margin for error). Although since that .rst day in the clinic there have been blips taking the graph both ways, but we’ll come to those later.
“Is your mother here?”
I felt that I ought to try to explain, but I didn’t have the faintest idea how to do that in less than an hour, so I looked at my feet. And looking at my feet was seldom a good idea as it hammered home the fact that what was happening down there was all wrong, meaning I had on shoes made out of an ele­phant’s foreskin, and not cool or even lukewarm sneakers like every other kid at school. But I shouldn’t say elephant’s fore­skin, because Mum is no more likely to buy elephant-skin products than she is to go whaling. I just meant shapeless blue-gray school shoes, as if something big—okay, let’s stick with elephant—waddled over and dumped on my feet.
I told my mum a whaling joke once. I said, “I went to the Wailing Wall. In Jerusalem.” Pause. “It was rubbish.” Pause. “I didn’t harpoon a single whale.” She looked at me with this expression of disgust on her face, as though I’d just shown her a boil with a maggot in it, because the joke bit of what I said was completely lost by the horror of the killing-whales bit, when we all should know that they are our brothers, and peace-loving Gentle Giants of the Ocean, even though nobody ever asked the krill what they thought about it.
“This way then,” the nurse said, and I followed her into an examination room that managed to be stuffy and cold at the same time. There was a window with a view over the compli­cated rooftop of the hospital, all pipes and vents and skewed angles. It made me feel dizzy, and for a second I thought I was going to have to puke in the sink. The sink had one of those taps with a long handle so you could turn it off and on with your elbow. Or your chin. Or you could stand backwards on a chair and do it with your arse.
But why would you want to do that?
Well, what if you had no arms?
Then you’d probably develop cleverly expressive feet, for which taps would be a piece of cake.
What if you lost your feet?
Well, then you could use your knee, still much better than an arse.
So what if your legs were amputated just below where they join onto your body? In an accident with some intricate piece of farm machinery, a turnip spangler, say, or a hay thrummer, or a many-bladed pig-splayer.
Well, then you couldn’t get up on the chair to use your bum, could you?
Aha! That’s where the special chair comes into play. The special chair with a hydraulic arm that lifts up your limbless trunk, swivels it around, and presents your arse to the tap.
A man looking a lot like a doctor was staring at me. I had a nasty feeling that I might have been acting out being hoisted bum-.rst towards the tap. I’d always done a lot of that—I don’t mean acting out, I mean the internal-dialogue thing. I some­times wonder if that’s got something to do with Jack, I mean how he came into being, how he was how he was.
I nodded.
“I’m Dr. Jones.”
I nodded again. He hadn’t said anything yet that I felt like disagreeing with.
“As you know, this is a teaching hospital. Would you mind if some, ah, observers sat in?”
Before I had the chance to mind, a group of gormless­looking students began .ling into the room. Not all gormless­looking. There was one exceptionally pretty girl, with the kind of straight black hair I like.
It meant I was going to get an anal probe for sure.
I felt the electric tingle of a blush as the whole scene played out before me: the pink rubberized truncheon they were going to use, the sparking electrodes at the end of the probe, the giggle from the students at the farting noise produced as the probe was extracted, my stuttering efforts to say it wasn’t me but the probe that made the noise.
“So, you’ve been having some problems?” said Doc Jones.
Problems! Where did I start? My mum was a hippie, my dad was nowhere, my school was a dung heap; I was bullied by Neanderthals and ignored by the girls, and my friends were the Wretched of the Earth.
But that wasn’t what Doc Jones meant.
“Headaches,” he said, looking at his clipboard. “Blurred vision.”
“Yeah,” I said.
“Anything else?”
Should I tell him about the voices, the strange echoing effect I sometimes heard or felt, as though I were being called from another dimension?
“Been a bit tired. Get dizzy sometimes.”
“That’s good, that’s good,” said the doctor mysteriously. “Why don’t we have a little look at you?”
There followed ten minutes of probing, none of it anally ori­ented. The doctor shone a light in my eyes and moved it around, asking me to follow it. He stood behind me and asked if I could hear his watch tick, .rst on one side, and then on the other. Then he tested my re.exes, which I thought only hap­pened in .lms. All the students had a go, banging randomly around my knee area with a rubber hammer. Then I had to touch my nose with my .nger, alternating left and right with my eyes closed. Then I had to walk in a straight line, again with my eyes closed.
All sounds easy, doesn’t it? Except with all those people star­ing at me, and especially the pretty one, I didn’t do that well in the nose-touching and straight-line-walking parts. There were more questions, more tests. Did I know who the prime minister was? Could I say the days of the week backwards? Did I know my arse from my elbow?
Throughout it all I could feel myself getting more and more sullen-teenagery, and that’s not my normal way. I couldn’t think of any clever things to say.
And then it was over.
“That’s just grand, Hector,” said Doc Jones. “We’ll make an appointment for a CAT scan, and sort this all out. We’ll send the appointment card. Try to fit you in early next week. Or perhaps later this week. We sometimes get cancellations. And in urgent— Well, we might be lucky. Okay?”
And although I knew what a CAT scan was, I still had this quick mental image of a sort of Star Trek tricorder, only shaped like a cat, and Spock with his hand up its bum, passing it over my body and detecting alien life forms in there. Excerpted from Jack Tumor by Anthony McGowan.
Copyright © 2009 by Anthony McGowan.
Published in 2009 by FARRAR, STRAUS AND GIROUX.
All rights reserved. This work is protected under copyright laws and reproduction
is strictly prohibited. Permission to reproduce the material in any manner or
medium must be secured from the Publisher.
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 3 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 27, 2013

    Love books

    Very good book. &#9756

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 29, 2013

    Loved it!

    Grea story

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  • Posted January 14, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Reviewed by Kira M for TeensReadToo.com

    Hector Brunty has a lot in life to worry about. From bullies to his mum's mung bean soup, life seems to like to throw him nasty curves until it finally takes on a new perspective (literally). When Hector gets diagnosed with a brain tumor, things seem like they couldn't get worse - until the tumor starts talking.

    The tumor claims it can coach Hector into creating a better social life for himself. The tumor, however, starts forcing him to do questionable things that make him uncomfortable. This makes Hector decide once and for all to rid himself somehow of the cancer. But how can you defeat a tumor that knows what you're going to do before you do?

    JACK TUMOR is a surprisingly hilarious book despite the sensitive topic it addresses. The characters are fun to read about and Hector's social life has a humorous twist to it. Readers will relate to Hector's embarrassing family, his school life, and might even feel bad for him at times, but will have fun laughing their heads off one page and then feeling discouraged for the main character the next.

    Those who like realistic fiction, humor, and books about surviving school will enjoy reading this book.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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