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FANGIRL by Ken Baker

FANGIRL

By Ken Baker

Age Range: 12 - 16

Pub Date: Oct. 2nd, 2012
ISBN: 978-0-7624-4344-4
Publisher: Running Press Kids

In what could have been an escapist fantasy romp, E! Entertainment Television chief news correspondent Baker delivers a tepid Hollywood romance.

The protagonists are Josie, a 14-year-old California tomboy, and Peter Maxx, a 16-year-old Justin Bieber–like teen idol. Josie and Peter overcome the odds, their frenemies and their own anxieties to find chaste true love and a reliably tidy ending. Whole paragraphs of journalistic exposition befit Baker’s reportorial background but translate awkwardly to narrative fiction; the stiff third-person narration is too distant to make Josie and Peter’s alternating perspectives feel authentic. A relentless stream of pop-culture references  (Coldplay, TOMS shoes, Formspring) feel less like real teen dialogue and more like an adult straining for relevance, anchoring the story to a very specific period in time that might render it already passe among trend-spotting teens. Baker’s access to entertainment titans has given him much to draw upon in his descriptions of the lonely life of a teenage star, but the story’s stale arc might be insufficiently compelling to hook readers not suffering from Bieber fever.

Intriguing premise, flawed execution. (Fiction. 12-16)