Welcome to the weird and wonderful universe of Trent Dalton, whose first work of fiction is, without exaggeration, the best Australian novel I have read in more than a decade ... His dialogue is every bit as funny and accurate as Winton's, his prose just as evocative, and he's better at wrapping up the ending. The last 100 pages of Boy Swallows Universe propel you like an express train to a conclusion that is profound and complex and unashamedly commercial ... Dalton's novel takes flight in a multitude of unexpected directions ... The story is peppered with wordplay, with crude jokes and gems of literary criticism ... The book is jam-packed with such witty and profound insights into what's wrong and what's right with Australia and the world. It is almost 500 pages long but I read it in two sittings and immediately want to read it again.
...a sprawling novel about a thoughtful boy’s premature journey into manhood ... As a narrator, Eli is a casual philosopher who takes in the glory and consequence of the smallest quotidian details, and his acute observations are often refracted through his singular lens of farce and surrealism ... His loss of innocence comes in narrative sucker punches, plot turns that evoke stomach-clenching terror and sickening grief ... Boy Swallows Universe hypnotizes you with wonder, and then hammers you with heartbreak.
... grim. But Eli, who notices everything and speaks in a kind of hyperactive journalese, is still somehow open to the world, and frequently amusing as a result ... The anxieties of adolescence are persuasively conveyed ... One can’t help quibbling that the story seems designed with an eye to its own presumed dramatic adaptation. The violence is occasionally too much. Toward the end, a plot point involving severed limbs is downright fanciful ... Such florid unpleasantries feel all the more gratuitous because the most compelling aspects of Boy Swallows Universe come from real life ... In this thrilling novel, Trent Dalton takes us along for the ride.