Getting the Girl: A Guide to Private Investigation, Surveillance and Cookery by Susan Juby

Sherman Mack, well he’s kind of a nobody, but he knows what he likes: cooking classes, detective stories and girls, well one girl in particular…Dini Trioli. When Dini starts dating a popular lacrosse player Sherman’s afraid she is in danger of being defiled. No one knows who starts it or why, but once a girl’s picture appears on the bathroom mirrors in the school with a big D written on it, she’s as good as invisible, a social lepper, and Sherman thinks Dini’s next. In order to save her reputation, win the girl and be the inevitable hero, Sherman goes undercover.

Getting the Girl is a wryly observant look at high school and the social and physical awkwardness of grade 9 boys. The narrative is sincere and unapologetic in its frankness and it makes for quite an enjoyable read. Sherman is one of the best male main characters I’ve read in a while. I thoroughly enjoyed all his embarrassing moments and naive reflections, he was very lovable. The supporting characters were quirky and equally as fun to read about.  Judy also did a wonderful job at addressing social hierarchy and bullying in a way that was humorous and unobtrusive. The thing I enjoyed most about this novel was the flow and Juby’s writing style – I can’t wait to read more of her books. YA boys might also really enjoy this novel.

You might enjoy Getting the Girl if you like books with: male main characters, quirky and hilarious storylines, high school settings, a good mixture of likable characters and fast moving plots

Also by Susan Juby: Alice I think, Alice Macleod Realist at Last, Another Kind of Cowboy, Miss Smithers

If you liked Getting the Girl, you might also enjoy: Boy’s Girls and Other Hazardous Materials by Rosalind Wiseman, The Dark Days of Hamburger Haplin by Josh Berk, Will Grayson; Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan

Author website: http://www.susanjuby.com/

Rating: W4/4   C4/4   P3.5/4   O3/4   PP3/4   CR3.5/4

Grade Level Interest: JS

By the Time You Read This, I’ll be Dead by Julie Anne Peters

Daelyn doesn’t want to live. After a string of botched suicide attempts she is determined to get it right and starts looking at a website for “completers.” She’s tired of the bullying and the loneliness and she is determined to end it all. Then some boy named Santana begins to sit with her after school and he just won’t leave her alone. She doesn’t want to make any connections because she doesn’t plan on staying around but Santana won’t let up and she starts to have doubts.

Julie Anne Peters is one of my favourite authors but for me this wasn’t one of her greatest books. I really struggled connecting to Daelyn as a character and I had a difficult time feeling anything for her. It might have just been that I have a problem with the topic, but I just couldn’t get past it. There were a few things I did really enjoy that I thought made this book stand out that I think will appeal to many readers. First, the main character is silent. Daelyn cannot talk and that made for a very unique reading experience that I really enjoyed. Also, Peters leaves the ending very vague, so the reader can decide what happens, which is rather creative. Also, I think those who like to read issue fiction will find a lot of the elements they are generally pulled to in this book. So while I didn’t necessarily love this book, I still encourage you to read it and make your own decision.

You might enjoy By the Time You Read This, if you like books with:  real life serious issues, not a lot of focus on romance, sensitive and emotionally evocative storylines, quick and fast paced plots

Also by Julie Anne Peters: Luna, Between Mom and Jo, Far From Xanadu, How to do you Spell G-E-E-K?

If you liked By the Time You Read This, you might also enjoy: Willow by Julia Hoban, Crash into me by Albert Borris, Some Girls Are by Courtney Summers

Additional Info:

www.through-the-light.com

Ontario Association for Suicide Prevention. This is a list of Crisis and Contact numbers throughout Ontario

 gURL – great website just for teens, has information and resources on suicide, bullying and other difficult issues teen face.

Rating: W4/4   C2/4   P2.5/4   O3/4   PP2/4   CR3.5/4

Grade Level: JS

Boys, Girls and Other Hazardous Materials by Rosalind Wiseman

After escaping the clutches of her middle school drama queen friends, Charlie wants to start high school drama free. Things go well for her; on the first day she makes a few great new friends and joins the newspaper. Things are even better when her old next door neighbour Will shows up looking amazing. Things seem to be going fine for her and her new friends as they navigate the ups and downs of high school, including dating, grades, sports, etc. That is until Will gets caught in a horrible hazing scheme gone wrong and someone ends up in the hospital. Charlie is torn between doing what is right and her feelings for Will, and at the end of the day she might just lose everything…

Readers who enjoy realistic fiction that puts a strong emphasis on the daily grind of being a teenager in high school will love this book. Boys, Girls and Other Hazardous Materials is witty and sweet and Wiseman does an amazing job of creating down to earth and relatable characters. While there isn’t too much in the way of plot development, the book reads rather quickly as you just can’t get enough of the dynamic Charlie. It was definitely honest and fresh and I appreciated the balance between highlighting the importance of friendship and relationships and the realities of bullying and insecurities. I thoroughly enjoyed the reading experience, and feel that despite some negative reviews it definitely does add something to the YA sphere.

 “..to all the teens and kids I work with. I tried my best to write something that would reflect your experiences of what it is like to be your age today – for the good, the bad and the ugly. I believe what you are dealing with is important and should be respected as such. I hope I did right by you.” – from the book’s acknowledgements.

 You might enjoy Boys, Girls and Other Hazardous Materials if you like books with: realistic high school setting, characters that you could encounter in your real life, a focus on friendship rather than relationships, humour.

 Also by Rosalind Wiseman: Queen Bees and Wannabes and Queen Bee Moms and Kingpin Dads (Boys, Girls and Other is actually her first YA novel)

 If you liked Boys, Girls and Other Hazardous Materials you might also enjoy: Getting Revenge on Lauren Wood by Eileen Cook, Something Maybe by Elizabeth Scott, Along for the Ride by Sarah Dessen and The Dark Days of Hamburger Halpin by Josh Berk

Additional Info: Did you know that one of Wiseman’s other books, Queen Bees and Wannabes was the basis for the movie Mean Girls?

Author website: http://rosalindwiseman.com/ – amazing website/resource

Rating: W4/4   C4/4   P3/4   O2.5/4   PP3/4   CR3.5/4

Grade Level: JS

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Generation Dead by Daniel Waters

“But she knew what she was doing, deep down. Tommy Williams was in her head, his white, angular face, the ghost of a smile on his lips, and a pale light in his slate blue eyes.”

Zombies! All over the United States teenagers are coming back to life, many of them even continue to attend high school. Phoebe Kendall is her high school’s resident Goth, which is sort of ironic considering her school has a surprising number of dead heads, aka Zombie students. When Phoebe falls for Zombie leader and football player wannabe Tommy Williams things start to change. Her best friends don’t understand and students with a hate on for Zombies begin to find excuses to eliminate them and their human friends. It isn’t long before Phoebe, her best friends Adam and Margie and even Tommy find themselves on a hit list.

Side note before I review: last semester my teacher suggested that we examine the role of Zombies in teen literature and discuss them in the same way we talk about Vampires. I already posted how I thought the idea of Zombies as romantic partners was really strange, so reading this book was my attempt to understand this new genre…

Having said that, I’m very much converted to the zombies as boyfriends movement. Daniel Waters writes a surprisingly enjoyable book on what it would be like if zombie’s were an every day part of your life. I enjoyed the lightness and humor of the book, and the fact that Waters didn’t spend too much time world building. The way it is, he just asks the readers to go with the idea. If he had tried to prove and justify his zombie world I think it would have lost significant credibility. However, I think Generation Dead is a complete success; the characters are fun and the plot addicting. Some of the writing and plot elements were pretty cheesy, but for me that was part of the enjoyment. I also especially liked how the narration was shared between a bunch of characters, again making the book feel light and easy. Read this book, you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

You might enjoy Generation Dead if you like books with: more of a focus on plot than character development, fantasy/paranormal love stories, fun and light writing, humour

Other books by Daniel Waters: Generation Dead: Kiss of Life

If you liked Generation Dead you might also enjoy: Prom Dates from Hell by Rosemary Clement-Moore, Ghostgirl by Tonya Hurley, The Summoning by Kelley Armstrong, Pride & Prejudice and Zombies by Seth Grahame-Smith, Zombie Blondes by Brian James and Never Slow Dance with a Zombie by Enrich Van Lowe

Author Website found here.

Tommy Williams blog found here.

Additional Info: the third book in the series, Passing Strange, is set to be released June 1st 2010

 Rating: W3/4   C3/4   P3/4   O4/4   PP3/4   CR4/4

 Grade: JS