Colin Fischer by Ashley Edwards Miller and Zack Stentz, Razorbill, 2012, ISBN: 978-159514-578-9
Freshman Colin Fischer’s first day of high school begins in the toilet. Before class has started, Wayne Connelly, the school bully, traps Colin in the bathroom and dunks him head first in the can and flushes.
Wayne, like many others at Colin’s school, doesn’t understand Colin’s quirks, including his need to refer to index cards to recognize facial expressions. Colin has Asperger’s Syndrome, a condition that makes him hyper focused on facts and details, but clueless when it comes to reading people.
While Colin’s condition makes it hard for him to make friends, it gives him a unique perspective in solving crime. When someone fires a gun in the school cafeteria, everyone thinks Wayne is the guilty party, but Colin thinks differently. In order to clear Wayne’s name, Colin must partner with his tormentor and enter a world of messy social relationships to discover who the real culprit is.
Colin Fischer is a fun and engaging read that will appeal to people who enjoyed The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, another mystery told from the perspective of a boy on the autism spectrum. Unlike Mark Haddon’s book, the authors of Colin Fischer tell their story in the third person, which distances the reader somewhat from the main character. The authors help us understand Colin’s thinking by starting each chapter with a diary entry and including interesting footnotes on various details of the text. While I prefer the voice and the dark humor of Haddon’s book, I enjoyed the way that Colin navigates his way through this mystery, often placing himself in dangerous situations.
The authors clearly understand Asperger’s (author Stentz claims to “be on the Asperger’s spectrum”.) Their depiction of high school made this reader question how familiar they were with public schools today. (Do bullies really torment their victims with swirlies? I’ve never heard of this happening.) There were a few tropes and stereotypes here that I didn’t quite buy. Besides this though, the mystery is well plotted, with a number of suspects and red herrings. When the guilty party is revealed, I was surprised. The authors also borrow a nice plot device from the classic Sherlock Holmes mysteries and give Colin a nemesis similar to Professor Moriarty was to the famous detective.
Information about the authors
From the book jacket we learn that Ashley Edward Miller and Zack Stentz “met on the Internet, a consequence of their mutual love of all things Star Trek. Together, Miller and Stentz have written and/or produced over a under hours of television, including stints on Fringe and Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles. Most recently, they co-wrote the films X-Men: First Class and Thor. Miller and Stentz both live in Los Angeles.”
Young Adult Fiction
Reading Level / Interest Age
Grade 9 and up