Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Wolves, Boys, and Other Things That Might Kill Me

After a bunch of great blogger reviews helped fill up my bookshelf- I wanted to return the favor!  I ordered the recently released 'Wolves, Boys, and Other Things that Might Kill Me' by debut author Kristen Chandler:
KJ Carson arrives at the surface of the puberty pool pretty much unscathed.  But between her tense relationship with her father, the arrival of Virgil- a shaggy haired city slicker and his hippie mother Eloise, and the town’s hysteria over whether or not the wolves in Yellowstone park should be hunted- her small world in her small town are growing more and more complicated.


The characters in this book are wonderfully flawed and believable.  KJ is not some over confident smart ass like we often see in YA lit.  She has her own set of insecurities, including a constant fear of never succeeding at anything or living up to who her father wants her to be.  Virgil isn’t a ripped Abercrombie model come to sweep her off her feet.  He’s a ‘real’ sixteen year old boy and a genuinely ‘good’ character, which is rare. 

I love how we observe KJ develop over time. She grows a backbone and succeeds in creating change in a place where things seem like they’re stuck in a time capsule.  Chandler also does a great job of showing us both sides of the story so that there’s no distinct ‘villain’, but a situation that escalates and leaves everyone the victim in some way.

What immediately drew me to this book was its title and cover art.  ‘Wolves, Boys & Other Things That Might Kill Me’  Awesome, awesome title and flashy cover art. 

However, everything you see when you pick up the book (even the back excerpt) plays on the popularity of paranormal stories about werewolves and vampires when it has absolutely nothing to do with either.  It gives the impression that we’re in for suspenseful and dark YA when it’s really a humorous mainstream middle grade novel. 

The book is written entirely in present tense, which I found a bit disconcerting but eventually got used to.  And many of the secondary characters could have done with more physical description.  The only characters I found really well described were Virgil and his mother Eloise.  I had to let my imagination do the work for the rest, even for the main character KJ.

I stress the point that this book should be considered middle grade.  The dialogue and action were anything but edgy, with ‘Holy Smack’ being about as bad as it gets.  I was able to put it down but still thought about the characters and the story.  All in all, I found this book really ‘cute’ and would recommend it for kids eleven and up or people who enjoy middle grade in general.

Hope this helps!

Creepy







27 comments:

The Alliterative Allomorph said...

I LOVE present tense. I write in present tense. Isn't it so much more intimate?

Melissa said...

Personally I love present tense, it's so immediate and emotional. But then I'm biased considering I write in present tense myself.

Hmm, I like the idea that KJ isn't just a smart ass and she grows and gets a backbone. I love watching characters grow into their potential instead of having their potential realized at the outset of the story.

I really like the title as well

Lindsay (a.k.a Isabella) said...

Thanks for the great review. I love finding new books to add to my list. This one sounds awesome. I like a heroine that isn't a smart ass but develops.
Off to order this one now. :)

mi said...

thanks for the review!

Bethany Elizabeth said...

I loved the title - it immediately makes me want to read it. :) Thanks for the review, as well. I have a hard time reading present tense sometimes, but when it's well done I love it. :D

Laura Pauling said...

Thanks. I do love the title. And I think we might see a comeback of contemporary novels!

salarsenッ said...

Thank you for doing a middle grade review. We need more of these. I will surely check it out.

Enjoy ur day!

Slamdunk said...

Good review. Writing in the present tense can be quite a challenge.

Melissa said...

I already posted my comment here I just wanted to let you know that I've got an award for you on my blog.

Old Kitty said...

I love the title! It drew me in immediately! And the review is wonderful. Kids have the best books written for them! :-)

take care
x

Christina Lee said...

Sounds really good. I would have thought it was paranormal too (had you not explained).

Stina Lindenblatt said...

Great review, Creepy! I love first person present tense (more and more YA novels are in the that pov/tense). I'd have thought the same thing as you about it being paranormal, dark, and YA. It's a book I'll pass on 'cause it's not YA. BUT maybe my 10 yo might like it.

Vicki Rocho said...

I have to say if the story hooks me like it should, I don't notice what tense it's written in. Just keep me moving is all I ask!

The Empress said...

I love the title, and I myself love YA fiction.

I'll be checking it out for myself.

Thank you.

Aubrie said...

Holy smack! That's funny! But I do need to figure out how to make my characters more flawed, so this book would be good for me to read. Great review!

Mary McDonald said...

I'm not a YA fan, but this one actually sounds appealing since the characters are more realistic. Thanks for sharing!

JustineDell said...

YA's not really my thing, but this does sound neat. Plus, I give chops to anyone who writes in present tense. I think it's hard.

~JD

Janet Johnson said...

Present tense pulls me out, too. I usually get used to it . . . as long as it's done well.

Great review!

Jen said...

Great review, I love learning about new books so I'll definitely be looking into this!

Elle Strauss said...

Thanks for the review. Too bad the thought they had to misrepresent it for marketing--MG is underrepresented and would probably sell well pitched the way you did.

Melody said...

Sounds like a good book! I may have to check it out. I love present tense.

But I have a question: Is there anything that says that YA has to be "edgy" and have coarser language? Shouldn't it have something more to do with reading level and character age? Just wondering.

Creepy Query Girl said...

Good Question Melody! YA doesn't have to be edgy but there is such a thing as 'edgy YA' which has more controversial things like bad language, behavior etc... I just wanted to make it clear that this was not like that. What makes this middle grade, in my opinion, is the maturity of the characters and the reading level. It almost felt like the mc was originally younger but they bumped her up to 16 for marketing purposes. Same goes for the supporting characters. The dialogue and interactions were really relative to a younger age group and I had a hard time seeing sixteen year olds talking or acting this way. I think a younger audience would probably appreciate it more. HTH!

Suzanne Casamento said...

Oh Creepy, it's hilarious that you sign your posts "Creepy."

Sounds like a fun read. I'll have to check it out!

miss ali said...

hey creepy! just wanted to let you know there is a blogger award waiting for you over on my blog :) cheers! http://lovemissali.blogspot.com

Theresa Milstein said...

I hadn't heard of this. It sounds interesting, though maybe like false advertising.

The present tense is hard to get used to at first. When I first read The Hunger Games, I thought I wouldn't stop noticing it, but soon I felt like it all happened in real time.

Susan Fields said...

Thanks for the review! That title does sound paranormal - I guess I have werewolves on the brain. :)

WhisperingWriter said...

The book sounds interesting. I also write in present tense.

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