Sunday, July 24, 2011

Last Bus Out by Beck McDowell: Review by Anachronist

Last Bus Out
Mini review: Last Bus Out by Beck McDowell

The book presents a true story of a black teenager, Courtney Miles, a boy from one the projects of New Orleans, a place called Algiers. He was one of those deceptively common people who in the times of troubles, instead of creating havoc, decided to do something not only for themselves but also for the whole community. Although he didn’t have any driving license at that time he still managed to save over 300 people in Algiers during the disastrous Hurricane Katrina (August 2005) driving a school bus along with his friends, Jabbar Gibson and Nas. As it often is the case Jabbar got a lot of media attention whereas Courtney kept quiet about the role he played and was omitted. This book tries to present his side of the story and also reminding about these sad events.

What I liked:
The main hero, young Courtney, was presented in a very moving way, with his full, sad background and inner turmoil.
The novel is richly illustrated with photos and links which certainly add to the credibility of the account.
It was a very uplifting read; the struggle of Courtney to get a better life and not copy the mistakes of his family and friends I found really heroic. Sometimes more than his private rescue operation.

What I didn’t like:
The jargon boys are using while talking among themselves might be a problem for non- Americans. If you listen to hip-hop you will be ok, though.

It seemed to me that the author couldn’t decide whether or not to present the narration more like a document or more like a novel. As a result the book was, in my opinion, a bit too long, with simply too many photos of documents, rats, politicians, hurricanes, different links etc. They distracted my attention from the main hero.

Final verdict:
A truly gripping, real-life story but it could have been told better…a good editor would know what to do. I still wish Courtney all the best!


  1. I can't decide if I'd like this! HoweverI love your gif. - the one that's titled by pxl animations? It's funny. XD

    ComaCalm's Corner

  2. More things put me off this book than make me want to read it so perhaps not one for me.

  3. I love non-fiction but it saddens me when the publishing house (and I blame them) don't give the author help in making it "more readable". Most non-fiction writers need to tell the story then have someone edit for them so that it flows correctly :(

  4. You know, I find quite a few books that have a very compelling story to tell and the writer obviusly has talent, but for the lack of better editing, could have been really good. It's too bad that it applied in this case because this is a wonderful true heroic story that more people should know about.

  5. I agree with Stephanie. It's sad that so many talented authors actually fail to make it big due to lack of a proper editor. The story seems great! Too bad about the editing though.

  6. Thanks for your comments my ladies, I couldn't agree more: a great story + a very likeable hero + bad editing = frustrated readers.

    Not all authors can self edit sufficiently well. Hell, most of them can't - if they could there would be no work for editors.

  7. So perhaps the language would be a problem for me? Sure I know it, but it always takes a while to get into things. The same with my latest Pirate book where she a few times had the heroine talk with a broad Cornish accent to make a point

  8. Yes, it might be a problem Blodeuedd. It's a slang of southern states but fortunately there is not too much of it.

  9. Glad the overall verdict was a good one for you :D Sounds like a moving story.

  10. Thanks for the honest review! While the real life story aspect intrigues me, it sounds like the pacing isn't quite there. And since I don't list to hip hop, the narrative voice would probably be lost on me. So, I'll probably skip this one for now. Thanks again!


  11. Great review. I don't think it's a book for me. But wonderful review here. Thanks for sharing it!

  12. Thank you for your honest review. I am very picky about what non-fiction I read. So I like to hear about the good points and bad points before I decide if I'm going to read something or not.


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