Thursday, June 27, 2013

The Twelve-Fingered Boy by Jack Horner Jacobs: Book Review

The Twelve-Fingered Boy
Author: John Hornor Jacobs
Publisher: Carolrhoda Books, 2013
Age level: 15 up, Young Adult (fiction/horror)
Pages: 264

Shreveport Cannon (15) lives with his alcoholic mom and little brother in a trashy trailer court. Life really could not be much worse—until the arrest. Shreve foolishly steals a neighbor’s truck and is sentenced to eighteen months in Arkansas's Casimer Pulaski Juvenile Detention Center for Boys. Despite the adjustment, Shreve fits in with his peers and actually enjoys the stability Casimer provides. However, six months into his sentence Shreve is told he will share his cell with a younger boy, Jack Graves. 

Jack comes from an unexplained violent background and had recently hurt five foster kids, putting all in the hospital. Shreve is puzzled by this violent record since Jack is small in size and seems like a nice kid. Shreve then discovers that Jack has twelve fingers (six on each hand), which to his surprise when Jack notices his stare triggers a violent reaction. A strange energy flows from Jack that ripples the air and damages everything in its path. Shreve is unharmed but Jack feels terrible, because it is a power he cannot control. 

Meanwhile, two human services officials (Quincrux and a woman) come to interview Jack. Shreve spies behind doors and learns they are interested in Jack’s powers, and apparently have strange powers of their own. Shreve observes the warden standing nearby in a zombie-like state as they talk. When the session ends the warden is awakened by Quincrux, but he is confused and disoriented. What happened there?

Later Shreve experiences something similar when Quincrux attempts a mind/body control, but Shreve resists and the unexpected happens. A power transfers to Shreve that enables mind control of others. However, convinced of Quincrux’s evil motives, Shreve escapes with Jack from Casimer. The plan is to avoid capture, learn how to control their powers, and find out why Quincrux and others are nervous about the northern state of Maryland.  

Jacobs does a good job of honing in on the boys’ need for control and normalcy in their lives. Jack becomes Shreve’s little brother, but unlike Shreve, Jack does not have a home to return to someday. It is a need that Shreve miscalculates and must reason out on his own. The Twelve-Fingered Boy is fast-paced and mostly geared for boys. There are unanswered questions at the end that hint of a sequel.   

Copyright 2013 © Sharon M. Himsl


  1. This sounds really good - I'd never heard of it. Love the title!

  2. I've never heart of it either, but it certainly sounds like a book that would grab the attention of teen boys. Good review.

  3. Hi Sharon,
    Just checking to see what you were up to since the A-Z. Enjoyed your last three posts. The Mercy ship report was very interesting and I enjoyed reading your grumpy vacation post. This book sounds like a good read.
    I took a vacation from blogging for the month of June after having posted for 23 months with out missing a day, Monday -Friday - it was time for a break. Anyway blog vacation ends on Monday - yikes a month passes quickly.

    Hope all is well,

  4. Sounds like it is an interesting book. The title is great.

  5. Great to see a YA for guys, and it sounds like an interesting one too.

  6. It's nice to see Carolrhoda branching out into more commercial works. But with Andrew Carre as the editor (he used to be with Flux), you could probably expect that. It's always good to see a book geared more for boys than girls.

  7. Fascinating! I often come up short when my 14-year-old son asks me for book recommendations. I'll mention this to him. Thanks!

  8. --Kimberly and Jai: The title really drew me in too!

    --I agree, Elizabeth. We need more books for boys, teens especially!

    --Hey, Margot. Glad you are back online. Appreciate comments on last 3 posts!

    --Thanks, T.Drecker. Let the guys know about this.

    --Publisher is unfamiliar to me. Thanks for your input on the editor, Cathy!

    --Jenny, let me know if your son likes this. I think he will. Language is "all boy" but was not offensive at all.

  9. This book sounds really interesting. It is nice to see there are YA books geared toward boys. Another good "boy" book is The Secret To Lying by Todd Mitchell.

  10. Fascinating title. I'd read it just for that!

  11. I've been wanting to read this one, Sharon! Thanks for the thorough review!

  12. Thanks for stopping by Kerrie, Sherry and Kim. A busy summer and too behind on my comments!


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