Monday, April 16, 2018

Review: Ray Vs. The Meaning of Life by Michael F. Stewart

Ray Vs the Meaning of LifeTitle:  Ray Vs. The Meaning of Life
Author:  Michael F. Stewart
Publisher: Publishing House
Publishing Date:  May 15th, 2018
Pages: 284
Genre: YA Humor/Coming of Age 
Series:  Stand Alone
Source:  ARC
Grandma’s Last Will and Testament names Ray to inherit the trailer park. It’s a million-dollar estate with one hitch: to prove he’s not as aimless as he seems, Ray must discover the meaning of life by the end of the month. (She left the answer in an envelope.) If he fails, the camp goes to his estranged family.

How does anyone find the meaning of life while running a park full of misfit miners, would-be truck racers, and one demanding little girl? There’s a bear too. A grizzly. Maybe that’ll help?

This book really appealed to me when I saw the cover and read the blurb. I havn't read this author before but I do have another book by him on my TBR. I thought this would be a great one to start with. The book started out on a real good note. Humorous... but as the book continued the humor didn't seem so funny and it kind of went downhill for me. 
Ray lives in a vacation trailer park with his family, which owns the campground, his mother, uncle, siblings, and grandma. Well, one day his grandmother dies and she leaves in the will that Ray gets everything if he can answer the meaning of life. He remembers his grandmother talking about this one day and remembers tuning her out. So he doesn't have the answer. His grandmother also paid for a little help from a life coach to help Ray out with his problem. So between Ray trying to find the answer to the meaning of life (according to his grandmother) the guru helping him find his zen, keeping his mother and sister from sabotaging him, and catching the girl of his dreams, Ray's life becomes a jumbled mess. 

Okay so, I loved the beginning of this book and thought if the book was like the beginning, it would be a slam dunk. The beginning is just a jumble of mess of the accident that killed his grandmother. The events are hilarious and it was really the funniest part of the entire book... and no I am not twisted. It was written really well and so hilarious. I really enjoyed the first 20 percent of this book. But after that first bit of humor, the humor seemed to die down and it was a story of Ray facing his fears and finding his emotions and grounding himself. The guru was a little funny... but really the humor left. Now this story may have been good with the same story told in a more serious way. The problem I had was the entire time it felt if it was on the verge of being funny but didn't quite reach the destination. 

The story was good in itself. I enjoyed the life problems that Ray was facing and figuring out. Really like 90 percent of the teens heading for adulthood out there. Lost and confused. He really didn't want the park or the money. He wanted just enough money to make it out of this hoboken town and a bit of a cushion to live off of until he settled in somewhere. Sounds reasonable. The problem Ray had was his family. They were pretty selfish and greedy. They wanted all or nothing. Yup crazy right. 

I also enjoyed some of the characters. Ray's dream girl and her father were lovely characters. I also really liked the crazy guru. I even liked Ray even though he was lost and confused. I think he had the best intentions he just wasn't aware of real life. 

The story wasn't bad and the characters werent bad but it didn't have oomph for me. It needed something more. I just felt detached reading it. I wanted a good funny roll of the floor laughing kind of read and didn't get it. Maybe if the beginning hadn't been so funny or if I went expecting something different, or if the book had more of an emtional side. It just felt on the verge of soemthing the entire time. Really hard to explain. Some people may really love this book but it just wasn't my cup of tea. 

Great start but didn't last for me. 

Michael F. Stewart

Michael F. Stewart embraces all forms of storytelling. In 2009, he created Bully For You for Scholastic, a fully functioning social media platform with an embedded interactive story. He’s written graphic novels for Rubicon Publishing’s Boldprint series, illustrated early readers and novellas for Pearson (coming in 2019!), non fiction texts on Corruption and Children’s Rights; he even tried to convince the world that we needed a location based storytelling app with augmented reality (NARR8R)—we still do!

He’s written adult horror, sci-fi, urban fantasy, and adventure. He’s even written books you’ll never find.

But nothing is ever wasted. His most recent book, Counting Wolves, a contemporary YA, was named to Kirkus Reviews “Best Books of 2017” list. The Boy Who Swallows Flies (2018) won Killer Nashville’s Claymore Award, and the Assured Destruction Series won The Creation of Stories: Best YA Award at the Toronto International Book Fair. In 2016, Michael was selected to join the CFC/Entertainment One TV Adaptation Lab. Stay tuned for more soon.

Herder of four daughters, Michael lives to write in Ottawa where he was the Ottawa Public Library's Writer in Residence and runs free writing workshops. To learn more about Michael and his next projects visit his website at or connect via Twitter @MichaelFStewart.

1 comment:

  1. I'm sorry the story seemed to die down after the first little bit! It's always disappointing when you're really enjoying something and then it stops being what you were enjoying. Does that make sense? Lol. I agree... books need oomph!

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