A bighearted and imaginative tale about a glam god’s fans.

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MEET ME IN THE STRANGE

Two teenagers find salvation in each other in this music-tinged YA sci-fi novel.

Teen Davi is struck by a girl he sees at a glam and glitter rock concert. She isn’t exactly beautiful, but there is something that draws him to her. When he sees her leaving the Angelus—the once-great hotel founded by his great-grandfather and where Davi and his sister still live—he follows her and eventually introduces himself. She is Anna Z., and she’s a girl of a million interests and theories. The two quickly bond over their love of glam god Django Conn, whom Anna sees as the next stage in human evolution: “We’re homo lux. Humans made out of light just like in the movies and the late show on TV. That’s Django—and that’s us too.” Anna opens Davi’s eyes to ideas that he’s never before considered. Davi thinks he’s found a new best friend even though he receives warnings that Anna is not what she appears to be. Nevertheless, he is strongly tempted to join Anna on a pilgrimage to follow Django’s tour across the continent and to discover the secret of “Alien Drift,” a mysterious force that might have great implications for the future of humanity. Watts (Stonecutter, 2006, etc.) writes in an inventive, energetic prose that synthesizes slang and youthful earnestness to capture the personality of narrator Davi: “One half of me was zapped by seeing this girl, like a knife juiced with electricity cutting into my brain. She was gone, vanished, disappeared inside herself.” The world of the novel, from its language and geography to its layers of popular culture, is drawn with intricacy and vitality. Some of the plot points may feel a bit contrived, but the colorful verisimilitude of Davi and his infatuation with Anna should propel readers forward. Django is perhaps a bit too obviously a David Bowie analog, but Watts successfully captures not only the gravity of a teenage subculture, but also the more mercurial feeling of an axial generation on the cusp of something completely new.

A bighearted and imaginative tale about a glam god’s fans.

Pub Date: March 27, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-946154-15-6

Page Count: 260

Publisher: Meerkat Press

Review Posted Online: Jan. 22, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2018

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THE PERKS OF BEING A WALLFLOWER

Aspiring filmmaker/first-novelist Chbosky adds an upbeat ending to a tale of teenaged angst—the right combination of realism and uplift to allow it on high school reading lists, though some might object to the sexuality, drinking, and dope-smoking. More sophisticated readers might object to the rip-off of Salinger, though Chbosky pays homage by having his protagonist read Catcher in the Rye. Like Holden, Charlie oozes sincerity, rails against celebrity phoniness, and feels an extraliterary bond with his favorite writers (Harper Lee, Fitzgerald, Kerouac, Ayn Rand, etc.). But Charlie’s no rich kid: the third child in a middle-class family, he attends public school in western Pennsylvania, has an older brother who plays football at Penn State, and an older sister who worries about boys a lot. An epistolary novel addressed to an anonymous “friend,” Charlie’s letters cover his first year in high school, a time haunted by the recent suicide of his best friend. Always quick to shed tears, Charlie also feels guilty about the death of his Aunt Helen, a troubled woman who lived with Charlie’s family at the time of her fatal car wreck. Though he begins as a friendless observer, Charlie is soon pals with seniors Patrick and Sam (for Samantha), stepsiblings who include Charlie in their circle, where he smokes pot for the first time, drops acid, and falls madly in love with the inaccessible Sam. His first relationship ends miserably because Charlie remains compulsively honest, though he proves a loyal friend (to Patrick when he’s gay-bashed) and brother (when his sister needs an abortion). Depressed when all his friends prepare for college, Charlie has a catatonic breakdown, which resolves itself neatly and reveals a long-repressed truth about Aunt Helen. A plain-written narrative suggesting that passivity, and thinking too much, lead to confusion and anxiety. Perhaps the folks at (co-publisher) MTV see the synergy here with Daria or any number of videos by the sensitive singer-songwriters they feature.

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 1999

ISBN: 0-671-02734-4

Page Count: 256

Publisher: MTV/Pocket

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 1999

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A familiar but heartfelt romance for easygoing readers.

ADORKABLE

In O’Gorman’s YA debut, two best friends try to fool people into thinking that they’re in love—and then discover a new facet of their relationship.

Sally Spitz is a frizzy-haired 17-year-old girl with a charming zeal for three things: Harry Potter (she’s a Gryffindor), Star Wars, and getting into Duke University. During her senior year of high school, she goes on a slew of miserable dates, set up by her mother and her own second-best–friend–turned-matchmaker, Lillian Hooker. Sally refuses to admit to anyone that she’s actually head over Converses in love with her longtime best friend, a boy named Baldwin Eugene Charles Kent, aka “Becks.” After a particularly awkward date, Sally devises a plan to end Lillian’s matchmaking attempts; specifically, she plans to hire someone to act as her fake boyfriend, or “F.B.F.” But before Sally can put her plan into action, a rumor circulates that Sally and Becks are already dating. Becks agrees to act as Sally’s F.B.F. in exchange for a box of Goobers and Sally’s doing his calculus homework for a month. Later, as they hold hands in the hall and “practice” make-out sessions in Becks’ bedroom, their friendship heads into unfamiliar territory. Over the course of this novel, O’Gorman presents an inviting and enjoyable account of lifelong friendship transforming into young love. Though the author’s reliance on familiar tropes may be comforting to a casual reader, it may frustrate those who may be looking for a more substantial and less predictable plot. A number of ancillary characters lack very much complexity, and the story, overall, would have benefited from an added twist or two. Even so, however, this remains a largely engaging and often endearing debut. 

A familiar but heartfelt romance for easygoing readers.

Pub Date: Dec. 3, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-64063-759-7

Page Count: 340

Publisher: Entangled: Teen

Review Posted Online: Jan. 7, 2020

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