If you’re wondering why we’re a little short on reviews this issue, blame it on Hurricane Isaac. Bookmarked’s leader, Elizabeth Kahn, emailed me these two reviews on August 28, from Jefferson Parish, LA, adding, “The lights are flashing, so I don’t think that I will have Internet access much longer. Let me go.” That’s dedication. Let’s all send a little positive karma to our friends, family, and colleagues in the Gulf this week, OK?
LANGE, Erin Jade. Butter. Bloomsbury, October 2012. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781599907802.
Gr 8 Up—Butter has been obese for as long as he can remember. This used to mean that he was constantly picked on, but now he’s just invisible. Although he doesn’t make much of an effort to have a social life, Butter is incredibly bitter about his lack of friends. Things aren’t much better at home; Butter’s dad never acknowledges his existence, and his mother is a little too willing to always please Butter. However, none of this compares to the hatred Butter feels for himself. Despite the issues in his life, Butter manages to find solace in his saxophone and through an online relationship with pretty, popular Jeanie, who doesn’t know Butter’s real identity. After one particularly bad day, Butter has decided that he has had enough with his less-than-perfect life, and he posts a blog about his plan to eat himself to death. This blog brings him instant popularity, making Butter happy for once in his life. Still, Butter can’t forget the reason that he now has friends, no matter how hard he tries. He struggles to determine who he will be and what course his life will take.
Butter conveys a serious message, but it does so with grace. Humor is used to balance the harshness of the subject, ensuring that the novel never becomes too hard to read. The main character and narrator, Butter, is very easy to like, and although his life is unhappy, he doesn’t come across as pathetic. While the morbidity of the story is usually easy to ignore, the dark topic still lingers throughout. Therefore, not all readers will like the novel.—Kayla T., age 16
KACVINSKY, Katie. Middle Ground. Houghton, November 2012. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780547863368.
Gr 8 Up—Middle Ground, Katie Kacvinsky’s sequel to Awaken, begins with a seemingly normal group of teenagers going out on a Friday night to a club. Readers soon discover that this is a virtual club, in which customers put on glasses and face their virtual selves dancing virtually on a virtual screen. As soon as I started Middle Ground, I immediately put the book down and purchased Awaken, determined to unravel the whole story. My ventures into Kacvinsky’s futuristic world didn’t disappoint me. Readers follow the “plugged-in” life of Maddie, daughter of the man who founded Digital School (DS). The DS is a public institution in which every American student gets a free education but becomes addicted for the rest of their lives to the safety of a computer screen. Maddie, coming to understand the inhumane path humanity has taken, joins a group of DS drop-outs to fight her father’s creation. Throughout her story, Kacvinsky beautifully incorporates the political and psychological problems influencing modern life, not just those in the future. Maddie becomes part of a relationship which essentially illustrates how one person, ruled by hope and rebellion, can join her polar opposite, ruled by fear and selflessness, and create an unstoppable force.—Abrania M., age 15 (aka Brownie on Goodreads)
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