two-and-half-stars
Bookmarks Issue: 
29-July-Aug-2007
user_rating: 
0

A-FlightJust released from prison after attacking his foster parents, Zits, a half–Native American teen plagued by acne, loneliness, and abandonment, robs a bank and opens fire on the innocent bystanders. Suddenly he is transported to 1975, when he wakes up in the body of FBI agent Hank Storm, who pursues murderers on the Nannapush Indian Reservation. Zits travels back and forth across the centuries, emerging alternately as a young boy observing the Battle of Little Big Horn, a future pilot grappling with guilt for his part in a terrorist attack, and a homeless man in contemporary Tacoma. Slowly, Zits loses his taste for violence and opens up to the possibility of redemption.
Black Cat. 181 pages. $13. ISBN: 0802170374

New York Times 4 of 5 Stars
"In this slim volume (making it more novella than novel), Mr. Alexie manages to move effortlessly in and out of centuries like a person moving between waking and sleep. Rather than getting bogged down in the details of seminal historical events, he telescopes to the most intimate moments, when his characters rise and fall." S. Kirk Walsh

Washington Post 3.5 of 5 Stars
"The secondary characters are more plot props than fully developed people. … Flight lacks the depth and scope of Alexie’s groundbreaking Reservation Blues, but it’s original, funny and provocative—a trip worth taking." Ann Cummins

Milwaukee Jrnl Sentinel 2.5 of 5 Stars
"Alexie does move the reader through his LSD trip of a plot smoothly and without many speed bumps. But that bracing pace is also part of the problem." Tim Cuprisin

Seattle Times 2.5 of 5 Stars
"As always, Alexie produces many affecting moments and encounters, and there are promising themes and ideas submerged in the story, but they never really come to the surface. … In the end, with its warm message and its tidy resolution of Zits’ problems, this slender collection of time-traveling vignettes feels almost like a juvenile novel." Mary Brennan

St. Petersburg Times 2 of 5 Stars
"Perhaps this novel was a young adult book that outgrew its format. But Flight seems unlikely to please adolescents either; even they know that time travel is supposed to feel a little less driven, a little more mysterious than it does in Flight." John Freeman

Rocky Mountain News 1.5 of 5 Stars
"There are a few sparks of that signature Alexie charm in his continued poetry of the failed father and the book’s humor, but Flight falls short in development and description. … Because of the lack of detail, the reader never feels transported to the past along with Zits." Jenny Shank

Los Angeles Times 1 of 5 Stars
"In the thin, disappointing new book Flight, Alexie’s normally noteworthy prose skills are drowned by a goofy, scarecrow-ragged plot, stock characters and a knock-you-over-the-noggin message better suited to material for high school English classes than the trenchant fiction he’s written before. … What’s so frustrating about Flight isn’t the flimsy story line or even the obvious and underwhelming message; it’s that Alexie has wasted such an interesting, wisecracking little imp of a narrator." Mark S. Luce

Critical Summary

His first novel in over a decade, Sherman Alexie’s Flight winds themes of alienation, revenge, and forgiveness through its narrator’s time-traveling adventures. Critics were impressed with the clever Zits: his thoughts and actions are both humorous and painfully genuine, the essence of troubled adolescence. However, reviewers complained about the lack of depth, of fully developed secondary characters, and of historical detail. Many critics also noted that the plot’s swift pace and tidy ending were more appropriate for juvenile fiction. The New York Times, on the other hand, considered these elements part of the novel’s charm. Though Alexie’s latest effort may disappoint some readers, many will still find snatches of his trademark humor and moving prose.