Friday, September 25, 2015

Teen Review: The Fixer again

I promised that after my review of The Fixer, I would publish Patrick's when he also finished the book, so here it is!

The Fixer
by Jennifer Lynn Barnes
384 pages
YA thriller
First in a series

8th grade and up

Reviewed by Patrick Castro, grade 12

Wow. Just wow. I loved everything in Barnes's new book The Fixer, from its strong heroine to a suspenseful story line set in scandalous Washington, D.C.; it was perfect! I've read a couple of Barnes's other books, but The Fixer tops them all, and is possibly one of my favorite reads of 2015 so far!

The Fixer begins as Tess Kendrick's life is turned in a whole different direction when her sister, Ivy Kendrick, takes her away from her grandfather. Tess's relationship with her grandfather has been strong ever since the death of her parents. Ivy then whisks her away into the political, social bubble of D.C., where she is enrolled in Hardwicke Academy, the school for all the rich and powerful elite children. But Tess knows something is up, and she begins question who her sister really is and the power she hold in D.C. as "the fixer." I absolutely loved Tess--she was smart and sassy, and knew what she had to do. She was the type of person you know would do anything to undercover a mystery, and Barnes wrote her well. All the other characters, such as Ivy, Adam, Vivie, were great, each with their own struggles that brought the novel together. I honestly felt sooo sad for Vivie, especially the things she goes through, that was brutal!

Action and suspense are bread and butter to the novel. I loved the suspense after each chapter: Barnes always leaves you hanging, making you want to read more and more. Tess learns so much more about her family, herself, and the world she is now part of. I did feel sad for her, but she is a tough character and she fought through. Another aspect I loved was the whole Scandal vibes I got from this! I felt like I saw Ivy as Olivia Pope and it oozed Scandal. If you have not picked up that TV show, it is a must-watch!

Overall, I LOVED The Fixer, a perfect balance of romance, action, scandal, and drama. Perfect for any reader looking for a great suspenseful, scandalous novel, YOU NEED TO PICK THIS ONE UP!

Editor's note: It looks like we essentially agreed on this one!

Sunday, September 20, 2015

What we're reading: The Boy Most Likely To

Tim Mason is the guy who's been evicted from every school in town, for making every bad choice it's possible for a high school kid to choose. No one expects much of him, except that he will continue to be the screw-up that he's always been. Sure, he's charming and likable and funny, but he's also in AA, out of options for finishing high school, unable to keep a job, and has been kicked out of his house by his humorless martinet of a father. He's The Boy Most Likely ToFail.

Alice Garrett is the responsible oldest of eight (soon to be nine) children, and she's looking ahead. She has high hopes of moving out from among the chaotic embrace of her large family, first into the garage apartment for a little privacy while finishing nursing school, and then, once her father has recovered from his accident and her mother has had the baby and they're both back on their feet, she thinks she might get to go have a life. But times are tough, and Alice's options are limited while her responsibilities are multiplying. What she doesn't need is one more burden, which is initially how she sees her brother Jase's friend Tim. But there's a chemistry between them that she can't deny...

I have only just realized, by reading the reviews of others, that this is a "companion" book to characters previously met in Huntley Fitzpatrick's My Life Next Door. Since I never read that book (I read and thoroughly enjoyed What I Thought Was True, but it's not related), I guess I will have to go back and see what everyone was raving about. Many reviewers on Goodreads seemed disappointed that this book wasn't the swoon-worthy romance they expected, but I really liked it, and since I didn't have the blueprint of the first one with which to compare it, I didn't feel the lack of more love story, as some did, but felt that it was all exactly right.

The two voices of Tim and Alice were individual and compelling--Tim wry and self-deprecating, Alice fierce and forthright. The way their romance was derailed by a truly life-changing event was a fabulous twist, and I adored all the subsidiary characters, especially little Patsy with her "Hon!" whenever she spotted Tim. I will say, parenthetically, that I was horrified by a family with nine children in this time of limited resources…except that when I was growing up as an only child, like Jase's girlfriend Samantha, my favorite thing was to go to my friend Trudy's house, where there were four brothers and sisters to play with, so I get the attraction.

I think if you go into this book not expecting a repeat of the last one, but anticipating that Fitzpatrick will still keep you interested and involved, you will like it as much as I did. The style and pacing reminded me of Stephanie Perkins's books, but it's edgier, and definitely for more mature teens--I'm going to say 10th grade and up.