Monday, September 28, 2009

Alibi Junior High

While it is not entirely uncommon to find a haunted 13-year-old, Cody, in Greg Logsted’s Alibi Junior High, is haunted in an unusual way for teens in the western world.

You see, Cody has been living deep undercover with his CIA agent father pretty much his whole life. He speaks five languages, has two black belts, has lived all around the world, and can make lethal weapons out of whatever is around him. But in all of the dangerous situations he’s survived, he and his father have finally encountered someone who REALLY wants them dead. And now Cody must go into the deepest cover he’s ever known: Normal Kid. And junior high? Far worse than anything he’s ever imagined.

Just so we are clear, THIS IS NOT A TWEEN NOVEL. I know you might be tempted to give this to your average 10 year-old, but know this:

“There’s someone lying next to me. I look over and see the waitress who had winked at me. Her lifeless eyes are now permanently opened wide and there’s a large piece of metal sticking out of the center of her chest. The Yankees cap is still on her head, but it’s now soaked in blood and almost unrecognizable.

There’s an arm near me. Just an arm, and it has a wedding band on the ring finger. I pick my head up and look around at what’s left of the restaurant. There’s blood and bodies all around me. I start to scream but it’s a silent scream. All I can hear is the ringing” p 11.


I just made you either move this one up your queue or drop it entirely, didn’t I?

We originally had this one in the children’s section. We don’t anymore. That passage is by far the most graphic incident in the novel, but since it looks so incredibly kid-friendly with that cover and title, I thought you might want a heads up.

All of this said, you can also probably tell from that excerpt that Logsted captured the spy novel tone. Logsted also did well with that captured, helpless, alienated feeling junior high instills in most of us. Even with the fact that I MUST believe that he exaggerated the nightmare of school a little bit. That school was a misery, although the principal did begin to develop some depth through the novel.

Unlike some of the other characters. Most of Cody’s friends remain one-dimensional. Logsted did far better with the adult characters, most notably the Iraq War vet, Andy, who lost an arm in combat. Logsted handled the disability of that character frankly, never pandering and without didacticism.

An obvious match for Alex Rider and Charlie Higson fans. It’s more… believable than either of those, and immensely readable. Could be a series, although I've found nothing in my cursory searching that indicates it will be.

9 comments:

tanita davis said...

Oh, WHOA. That IS a kid-friendly title AND cover. And a disturbing bit of narrative.

I can't tell from your review whether you actually liked it or not...?

Jackie Parker said...

I liked it.

Erin said...

I WANT THIS.

Jackie said...

LOL, well, hon, it's out, so go to your local library.

Or, being you... you could just ask those PR people nicely...

Little Willow said...

It's been on my to-read list - just have to find it!

Ruchira L. said...

this sounds sooooooooooooooooooooooooooo good!!! :)

Sherry said...

My twelve year old (boy) didn't much care for it. At least he said it was OK. I haven't picked it up yet, butI plan to do so. It's one of the CYbils nominees that I didn't quite get to, and since my son gave it a pass, I wasn;t in a hurry. Maybe I should try ti out soon.

Ms. Yingling said...

I am definitely buying this. As you said, more believable, but also not quite as much action. Still will go over well with most middle school boys, although I might pitch it more as humor than as a spy thriller.

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