Alexie’s Flight glides rather than soars

Bradley Wilson, Editor-in-Chief

Meet Zits, the main character in Flight, by Sherman Alexie, an orphaned half Indian, half Irish teenage boy, struggling to find his way in a violence, drug, and crime filled life. Zits has been in and out of numerous foster homes and housing situations, and been stuck jail almost as many times.

Soon after the novel opens, Zits is found in jail again, where he meets another teenager who goes by the name of “Justice.” Justice takes Zits to his home in an abandoned warehouse, where the two spend their hours pretending to shoot newspaper and real life targets with unloaded guns. As they spend more and more time together, Justice convinces Zits to take their practice into real life situation, with loaded guns.

After gunning down a bank, and consequently taking a bullet to his head, Zits wakes up in a body that is not his own. Throughout the rest of the book, Zits keeps waking up in different bodies and taking “flights” to different historical events and being put in the bodies of numerous characters. The novel progresses as Zits learns and changes his perspective on things during these “flights.”

Flight is unlike any other book I’ve read in the fact that it blends so many genres into one novel. Historical facts, humor, and even a little time travel are combined to create Flight. As a whole, Alexie hits the spot in blending these elements together and weaving a cohesive story all at the same time, however Flight is missing a few key ingredients for it to be fully satisfying.

Flight succeeds at most levels, especially as an attention keeper. I read through the novel twice, and could hardly put it down both times. The story telling is good, although not brilliant, and Zits comes alive as a main character. The novel also is interesting from a historical perspective, as Alexie gives his representation of some famous historical events. Despite serious themes, a raw and often dark sense of humor runs throughout the entire novel.

Despite all of the positive aspects, Flight left me itching for more depth. Many of the side characters felt underdeveloped and the plot, especially the ending, lacked the punch that I was hoping for. Alexie set the framework for an incredibly deep novel, but failed to deliver.

While I enjoyed Flight and would probably recommend it, much of Alexie’s other work is stronger, and would be recommended far before Flight.  It was an interesting read, but the lack of depth kept Flight from being as good as Alexie’s other novels.