Jason Taylor is a “middle-ranking” boy who watches his position in the school yard fall perilously into “leper” status, before bobbing back to “middle-rank.” Jason is comfortable exploring the woods outside his home, yet finds himself at odds with his mother, father, and know-it-all sister. Jason doesn’t realize the vanity of labels or name-calling until close to the end of the novel, when he triumphs over local bullies and overcomes his strange fixation with cruel Dawn Madden. As usual Mitchell employs innovative narrative techniques. Jason Taylor hears voices in his head, “Unborn Twin” and “Maggot,” that speak up at various times in the novel. Hangman, the personification of his speech impediment, also takes control of the exasperated Jason at humorously inappropriate times.
David Mitchell might become popular again now that a movie version of Cloud Atlas is forthcoming.