Summary: Doomed to work his summer away in the Lost and Found Department of the Toronto Transit Commission, Duncan is passing his time sorting the odds and ends that come in from buses, subway trains and streetcars. Just when he thinks things couldn’t possibly get more boring, Duncan comes across a journal written by a man detailing his acceleration from killing animals and starting fires to stalking women he is planning to kill. Haunted by the drowning death of a girl he feels responsible for, Duncan is determined to do something to protect the women in this would-be killer’s sights. When the police don’t take Duncan’s concerns seriously, it is up to him and his friend Vinny to figure out the journal writer’s identity and stop him from acting on his plans.
Number of Pages: 210
Age Range: 13-14
Review: In this thriller-type read, Graham McNamee eases serious themes of death, murder and abuse with wonderful moments of laugh out loud humour. I wish there had been a bit more development around the death Duncan witnessed, because by the end of the book I still didn’t quite understand why exactly he thought he was solely responsible for not getting to her in time.
My favourite character was Vinny because I loved his imaginative and varied responses to questions about his birth defect. He’s a smart character who helps Duncan as needed; finding a friend who accepts him the way he is. Duncan himself is a close second favourite. He seems to put people at ease and allow them to be who they are without judgement or pressure.
I enjoyed McNamee’s depth when it came to Duncan’s grief, as well as all of the information he provides about profiling serial killers as Duncan and Vinny are trying to figure out how to identify the author of the journal. I was wrapped up in the flow of the story but I learned a lot at the same time. McNamee introduces his reader to the darkness of the human mind without overwhelming them.
It is a bit remarkable that two teens could track down a potential murderer without police aid, not to mention dangerous, but Acceleration was a well-paced, spine-tingling read that I would recommend to young teen readers.
“The basketball falls from under my arm and rools away. I feel a tremendous urge to rip this leather-bound book of mental diarrhea into confetti – to destroy it and the warped mind it came from. Behind the words there’s this big nothing where a conscience should be, a black hole sucking you down into the dark.” – Duncan from Acceleration by Graham McNamee, page 33
“Mom worries too much – those ears permanently tuned in to me. Late last year she made me go see a psychiatrist a couple of times, back when I wasn’t sleeping at all. He gave me some pills. They put me out – no dreams, no thoughts, no brain, no pain. But they left me groggy and a little dizzy, so I stopped taking them. Sometimes pain is better than nothing.” – Duncan from Acceleration by Graham McNamee, page 57
“Using my pen, I hold up some extra-large thong underwear. We’re talking a King Kong thong. Wondering how you lose your underwear on public transit, a mystery for the ages, I have to break away from the Kong thong when Jacob dings for me. I drop the underwear in the garbage and make a mental note to burn the pen.” – Duncan from Acceleration by Graham McNamee, page 114
“When breakfast/dinner is ready, Dad drags in one of the big box fans from their bedroom and positions it so we all get our slice of the breeze. We sit and eat and watch baseball, which must be the most boring sport ever invented. But right here and now, I love it. I love this boring, ordinary meal. Freeze the frame here, and let it last. It’s like the eye of the storm. Everything’s calm and quiet, and I can almost forget what’s supposed to happen tonight. So long as I don’t look up and see the wall of the storm that’s spinning around me, waiting for my next move.” – Duncan from Acceleration by Graham McNamee, page 147
“Vinny’s wearing his usual – army surplus jacket, jeans, ratty sneakers. I’m all in black, T-shirt and jeans and baseball cap, waering my steel-toed army boots just in case. Vin brought his Swiss Army knife – the idiot thing weighs about two pounds and includes scissors and a corkscrew. So he can crack open some wine after he gives the nut a haircut.” – Duncan from Acceleration by Graham McNamee, page 149
Acceleration by Graham McNamee is published by Wendy Lamb Books, (2003).