This Week in Reviews September 6, 2010

The following VOYA book reviews are only available online. Read about our review codes.

3Q 4P M J

Echols, Jennifer. Endless Summer. Simon & Schuster, 2010. 624p. $9.99 Trade pb. 978-1-4424-0659-9.

Endless Summer is actually two books in one. In the first, The Boys Next Door, sixteen-year-old Lori McGillicuddy tries to attract the attention of Sean Vader, a college boy on whom she has had a crush for years. Lori and her brother have worked side by side with Sean and his two brothers every summer at the marina owned by the Vaders. Instead of attracting Sean, however, Lori falls head over heels in love with his younger brother, Adam. In the second book, Endless Summer, Lori and Adam’s romance falls into trouble when they stay out all night, Adam reacts disrespectfully to his parents, and the teens are forbidden to date each other for the rest of the summer.

The Boys Next Door was originally released in 2007. The publisher has now packaged the two books together and chosen a much more appealing cover—one that is sure to attract teen girls. Echols serves up light romance with sex that is limited to heavy kissing and innuendo. Readers should not expect great writing but instead will find teen characters that react in typical teen ways and parents who appear unreasonable and somewhat out of touch with how their teens are feeling. Expect teen girls who crave series romances to enjoy the emotional twists and turns in this double bill that is a perfect summer beach read.—Chris Carlson.

2Q 2P MJ

Berger, Brad, and Kalev Pehme. Aim High: 101 Tips for Teens. AuthorHive, 2009. 128p. $9.75 Trade pb. 978-0-615-33022-8.

Berger, an attorney, and Pehme, described as an author, parent, and grandparent, draw from their personal and professional experience to offer a “guide for school and for life.” Each page includes a few short, pithy statements on a separate topic, such as morals, modesty, fairness, humor, and play. Some hints are obvious (“wash your hands”); some are common sense (“if you are going to be out late, call to let someone know”); some relate to academics (“develop a good vocabulary”, “learn another language”); and others advise on personal conduct, habits, and preferences. The advice is the kind a teen might get in conversation with a respected adult. Health and safety issues, such as experimenting with drugs or drinking and driving, are firmly addressed; otherwise, the authors are nonjudgmental and nonprescriptive. The tone is warm and friendly. Blank pages are included for the reader to record his thoughts.

If a major criterion of success is whether the authors succeed in doing what they set out to do, this book passes the test. Whether teens will pick it up and read it is less certain. Readers may miss the nuggets of sound advice because they are put off by truisms (“being nice is nice”). This could find a niche as a browsing item, suitable for the dentist’s or the bench outside the office of the vice principal in charge of discipline. Libraries may prefer more content-rich titles such as The Seven Habits of Highly Effective Teens by Sean Covey (Fireside, 1998).—Kathleen Beck.

3Q 3P S

Rich, Jamie S. Spell Checkers. Oni Press, 2010. 150p. $11.99. 978-1-934964-32-3.

Jesse, Kimmie, and Cynthia are the epitome of high school “mean girls.” The trio rule their school with an iron fist, thanks to the power they draw from a witch’s spell book. But their power seems to be waning. Slanderous graffiti about the girls is appearing at school, and lesspopular students are suddenly not scared of the mightily wicked witches. Kimmie and Cynthia suspect that Jesse is behind the uprising. Throw in Jonas, a boy that both Jesse and Kimmie claim as their own, and the stage is set for a magical throwdown. But the girls discover that they are not the only individuals using supernatural power for personal gain.

Featuring dark humor, edgy dialogue, and sheer nastiness, this first volume in a promised comic series is not for the faint of heart or for readers looking for moral or social justice. The girls wield their powers for selfish reasons, and instead of suffering the consequences of their behavior, they triumph over everyone. Their shallowness makes for entertaining moments, as does the revelation that the whole mess was caused by hard feelings related to a fifth-grade spelling bee. The artwork perfectly captures the girls’ snide and spoiled view of events, adding to the tongue-in-cheek merriment that readers who are able to take the story for what it is will enjoy. Jesse, Kimmie, and Cynthia won’t appeal to everyone but may satisfy those looking for an alternative to happy endings, where nice girls finish first and mean girls get what they deserve.—Paula Brehm-Heeger.

2Q 3P M   J   S   A/YA

Badillo, Steve. Skateboarding: Legendary Tricks 2. Tracks Publishing. 2010. 216 p. $13.95 Trade pb. 978-1-884654-35-0. Index. Photos. Biblio. Source Notes.

This sequel to Skateboarding: Legendary Tricks (2008) continues its predecessor’s style of detailing the origins of celebrated skateboarding achievements, complete with popular histories of each move and quotes from the sport’s founding mothers and fathers. These “stories behind the stories,” combined with numbered stop-action photos of each trick, make the title a must-read for skaters ready to take their repertoire to the next level, and for anyone wanting to know more about the sport’s colorful past.  Step-by-step instructions for twenty-nine incredible stunts are interspersed with skaters’ retellings of the evolution of a sport influenced by inline and roller skating, surfing, BMX bicycling and the punk rock scene.  Photos of famous boarders’ decks lend add to each trick’s nostalgia, such as seeing a photo of one of Duane Peters’ boards while reading about Peters’ 1978 attempt at pulling off “The Loop” that resulted in two broken collarbones for Peters (Tony Hawk’s completed of the trick some twenty years later on a custom ramp built for his Boom Boom Huck Jam Tour).

Though the book covers vert air, freestyle and streetstyle tricks, most of the maneuvers should be attempted on ramps or in bowls, which may limit the book’s appeal to areas where skate parks or bowls are open. As in the first volume, most pictures show skaters without proper safety equipment and the potential danger of each trick is glossed over.  These quibbles aside, the title is a worthy successor to the original and should prove to be just as popular.—Jay Wise.

3Q 3P J S

Stapleton, Rhonda. Pucker Up. Simon & Schuster, 2010. 272p. $9.99 Trade pb. 978-1-4169-7466-6.

In the final installment of the Stupid Cupid trilogy, Felicity, a modern cupid who makes her matches via a magical PDA, is finally dating Derek, her longtime crush. To her surprise, Derek works as a cupid, too. Whereas Felicity makes hasty matches, choosing to follow her gut instead of the rulebook, Derek is thoughtful and takes his time. They hold a contest to see who can successfully match up more couples. Unconcerned with the rulebook, Felicity cannot resist trying to fix the love lives of her brother and her best friend’s parents, too. Although things are going well with Derek, Felicity worries that their boss at the matchmaking company put a spell on them and begins to doubt the sincerity of Derek’s feelings. Panicked, she decides the only way to keep Derek’s attention after the spell wears off is to be mysterious. She overhauls her personality but cannot understand why Derek is growing distant already. With prom coming up, the cupids look forward to seeing which relationships will make it through the night, and if theirs will be one of them.

Felicity remains likable and genuine, but her relationship with Derek feels immature for high school juniors. Her best friends, previously depicted as smart and funny sidekicks, get short shrift, too, as Felicity fixates on how to keep Derek’s interest. Even though the pacing feels rushed, it remains thoroughly entertaining to watch Felicity, who has good intentions, make a mess of everyone’s relationships, including her own.—Amanda MacGregor.

3Q 3P M J

Dixon, Peter. Hunting the Dragon. Disney Hyperion, 2010. 208p. $15.99. 978-1-4231-2498-6.

Fighting pirates with the aid of a trusty dolphin, surfer Billy Crawford gets much more than he bargains for after signing on as a boatman on the Lucky Dragon. The Dragon is a tuna fishing boat; however, many dolphins are netted and killed in an operation that is less than legal. Billy acts out against this practice and is thrown off the boat into the middle of the ocean. With the help of Chatter, his dolphin friend, Billy makes it back to shore and joins up with the crew of the Salvador, a group dead set on stopping the killing of dolphins at any cost.

The writing moves at a steady pace, with the plot driving the story. The characters lack depth, which is particularly evident in the love story between Sarah, the pretty young environmental activist, and Billy. The romance feels shallow and undeveloped despite the many vows of love between the two traveling Americans. A strange love triangle emerges between the two young people and Chatter, the heroine who always manages to swim up just in the knick of time. The captain of the Lucky Dragon reads as a caricature tough-guy pirate, ruthless and driven. With a strong environmental message, the book entertains without being overly didactic.—Erin Wyatt.


Leave a Reply