Friday, November 7, 2014

47 Shopping days Left! Review: Anatomy of a Misfit

Anatomy of a Misfit

It's always a good sign when you start a new book, and are immediately reading lines out loud to anyone round you.

"She's a Christian, so if Mr. Baum is dead that means eternal damnation in the claws of the Beelzebub, whereas I will just be grounded."

"Where Brad is a puppy dog, Jared is a wolf. A big, bad wolf that your mother told you about but now you're just gonna have to ignore your mother."

"My head nodded. I didn't nod. But my head nodded. My head has obviously been taken over by witches."

It was as if Ree Drummond and Beth Woolsey got together to write a young adult novel. No-holds-barred introspective, laugh-out-loud hilarious, all too human tugging at the heartstrings (the little boys in their PAJAMAS omg!). Sex is mentioned but never happens, and Mom is actually not the enemy. A few secondary characters are one-dimensional, but they are only there to help the plot flow, so what the heck. The actual book jacket description:

Outside, Anika Dragomir is all lip gloss and blond hair—the third most popular girl in school.

Inside, she's a freak. A mix of dark thoughts, diabolical plots, and, if local chatter is to be believed, vampire DNA. After all, her father is from Romania. Everyone else in Nebraska is about as American as an apple pie . . . wrapped in a flag . . . on the Fourth of July.

Spider stew. That's what Anika is made of. But she keeps it under wraps to maintain her social position. One step out of line and Becky Vilhauser, first most popular girl in school, will make her life a living hell.

So when former loner Logan McDonough shows up one September hotter, smarter, and more mysterious than ever, Anika knows she can't get involved. It would be insane to throw away her social safety for a nerd. So what if that nerd is now a black-leather-jacket-wearing dreamboat, and his loner status is clearly the result of his troubled home life?

Who cares if the right girl could help him with all that, maybe even save him from it . . . ?
Logan. Who needs him when Jared Kline, the bad boy every girl dreams of, is asking her on dates?

The hysterical and heartwarming bits are interspersed with brief foreshadowing paragraphs that hint towards a less-than-happy ending. I accidentally got a HUGE spoiler in the insert from the publisher (hello! stop doing that!!), but there was still a punch in the gut at the end. The succeeding pages gave some satisfaction and softened the blow a bit, but weren't entirely believable - they were the kinds of things you WANT to happen, though, so I don't think most teens will quibble - this is just the jaded old lady talking here.

This will be one of the must-haves for the season, for any library serving teens.

Gifting ideas: Rather than pair it with anything specific, why not wrap it in a fun way? Mother Reader has some fantastic ideas. A scarf figures in one scene, and is certainly timely. Tie a bookmark on with the tag - hey, here's one from Romania!

(which Anika would never use, but that just makes it funny).
***Edit after reading other reviews (I never read them before writing my own): there are some people who absolutely hate this book, hate the main character, hate the language and some of the attitudes. It is fairly obvious from reading their reasons, though, that they are reading the book as adults, within an adult framework. Guess what, guys: the book isn't written for you. It is written for teens, who hear/think/speak this way every day, and discounting the book for those reasons swings dangerously close, imo, to those who want to limit access to books because they aren't what they think teens should be reading. As I alluded to in my comments about the ending, bloggers/reviewers need to CONSIDER THE AUDIENCE.


  1. One of my patrons, who I've been helping with book recommendations for a project, was absolutely horrified at a passage in Gary Paulsen's Liar Liar series where Kevin sneaks books from his mom's bookstore just to read the raunchy bits. She said it was totally unnecessary and "ruined the entire story" I tried to think of a tactful way to say "um...but that's how middle school boys ARE" and that they love this series, that it's funny and realistic and even includes consequences for Kevin's stupid behavior but I finally fell back on rather lamely saying "well, it is geared more towards middle school...." Usually the Catholic schools I've worked with have been much more open about reading material, preferring to discuss troubling passages with the kids rather than ban books, but I guess not everybody is like that.

  2. Yeah, I'm getting a bit snarky in my old age, channeling Dewey I think - I am finding myself prone to snapping the book shut and saying, "Then don't read it! Problem solved!" I think it's the mama bear in me - I DARE you to tell my kids what they can or can't read! It's frustrating - we want to act like 14-year-olds are innocents who must be protected, then they commit a crime and we want their toenails peeled off one by one.

    Several mini-rants in one, today - it has already been a long day!

  3. And I can NOT seem to get the last part of the text to match up, however I try to change it! Grr!