SIDE EFFECTS by Jen Calonita


Age Range: 12 - 16
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The novelization of a digital series on the AwesomenessTV YouTube channel features musical numbers translated into prose.

A family of five kids ranging in age from 13 to 23 struggles to stay on an even keel after the death of their mother and the disappearance of their father. The story is told in multiple voices, beginning with ninth-grader Whitney’s, who copes with the stresses of parental loss and bullying from the She-Bitches at school by taking pills from a bottle that warns, “MAY CAUSE MUSICAL HALLUCINATIONS.” When she takes a pill, a musical number begins, which may work onscreen but in print results in a very confusing blend of reality and fantasy, as well as sentences like, “ ‘Scream, shout, and curse!’ she shouts lyrically.” Other chapters are written by older sister Lexi (whom her brother calls “slutty”) and their three brothers, along with quasi-brother Zak. Once the group embarks on a trip to find their dad, a little bit of a plot develops, and there are a few good interchanges among siblings, but overall, it is a bubbly, incoherent mess sprinkled with brand-name references (“Jason…walks by at that moment with a large bag of Cool Ranch Doritos”).

Though it has no redeeming literary value, it may still be popular with fans of the Side Effects series, the first 40-minute “season” of which has close to 3 million views. (Fiction. 12-16)

Pub Date: Oct. 14th, 2014
ISBN: 978-1-941341-09-4
Page count: 256pp
Publisher: Awesomeness Ink
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15th, 2014


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