April 21, 2013

Review: Homeroom Headhunters

After reading the title and seeing the cover, I decided I need to make this novel a part of my life. I was not disappointed.

This is a great read for that reluctant male reader in your classroom/library/home.

Title: The Tribe: Homeroom Headhunter
Author: Clay McLeod Chapman
ISBN: 9781423152217
Pages: 304
Publisher: Hyperion Books
Available: May 7, 2013
Source: Netgalley

Summary (from Amazon):

All Schools are the same and Spencer Pendleton expects no less from Greenfield Middle. But Spencer hasn't met them yet-the Tribe, a group of runaway students who secretly own the school. They live off cafeteria food and wield weapons made out of everyday school supplies. Strangely, no one seems to know they exist, except for Spencer. And the group wants him to join their ranks. All he has to do is pass the initiations...and leave his mother and life behind. Can Spencer go through with it? Better yet, what will happen if he says no?

My Thoughts:

This book = WOW!

It is not realistic fiction. It is not fantasy. I am not 100% sure where I would categorize it. But I will say this—it’s a fast-paced, mind-bending, literary allusion-filled read for boys. I think this would appeal to girls too, but if you have a reluctant male reader, hand him this book. Seriously.

Here’s why.

Spencer always seems to be “that kid” who is always in trouble. So, now is his time to start fresh at Greenfield Middle. But, that would be too easy, right? I mean, we wouldn’t have a plot if that was it.

There is so much more.

The Tribe, a group of kids who have mysteriously disappeared but who live in the school, has their eye on Spencer. He seems like the perfect fit. He has all the attributes they are looking for, so what happens when they try to recruit him? Mayhem, to say the least.

There’s trouble from the start, and for once it’s not Spencer’s fault. With his track record, no one believes him. All of his hope is lost, unless he joins The Tribe. They want him. They believe he can add to their cause. I’m not too sure what their cause really is, but whatever it is, Spencer can definitely add to it.

There were moments when I cringed, I laughed, and my heart pumped. It was a great treadmill/elliptical book because I was moving my legs as fast as Spencer—sometimes.

I really enjoyed Spencer as a character. I’ve had quite a few Spencer’s in my own classroom—and sometimes they help challenge me in new ways (good and bad). I think a lot of male readers will identify with his character for a multitude of reasons, and I think his character sells this plot.

I have mixed feelings about the characters that make up The Tribe, but I think that’s because I am a mom and a teacher. I just wanted those children to go home to their families. To live normal lives. But they left that behind by choice. And it’s their choice to stay a part of The Tribe. Or is it?

The principal reminded me of Mr. Rooney in ‘Ferris Bueller’s Day Off’ – he and his staff added a few comical elements to the plot, again something that will appeal to male readers.

This book has so many literary allusions I cannot begin to count. When I was reading, all I could think was, “This will spark readers to pick up that book to see what it’s all about.” Well-played by the author. Well-played indeed. What a sneaky way to spread the love of reading while having readers read your novel.

The one novel that is alluded to the absolute most: ‘Lord of the Flies.’ Now, I don’t know about your high schools, but here we teach that novel to seniors. I was surprised to see it so heavily alluded to in a book that Amazon says is appropriate for ages 8 and up, but you know what? It’s a good book at any age.

But I just want you to be aware before you put it in the hands of a fifth grader. I know some parents are finicky about what their kids read. The book does contain violence, but nothing on the level of LOTF.

As a whole, I enjoyed this book. I enjoyed the plot, the pacing, and the characters. I gave it three stars on Goodreads because I felt it was a little too drawn out. There were parts where I thought, “Here comes the end…” and then not.

My main complaint with the novel is with the end. I know this is a part of a series, but I really like it when there is an element of a cliff-hanger as well as a ribbon tied to a few plot questions I had. Those did not get answered at all, and I will forgive the author if he answers them in the second book.

Happy Reading!

-      The Hodgenator

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