April 21, 2014

Review: Don't Even Think About It

Since her 'Magic in Manhattan' series, I have been a fan of Mlynowski's. She has a style of writing that I enjoy, full of imagination and interesting plot ideas.

Her latest YA novel is no exception. 

But, I have to say that I am not a fan of the cover. I just don't think it does the novel story justice, at all. I wouldn't have picked this up if I saw it in a bookstore or library. But you  should.

Title: ‘Don’t Even Think About It’
Author: Sarah Mlynowski
Pages: 336
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Available: NOW at your local library/book store
Source: Netgalley

Summary (from Goodreads):

We weren't always like this. We used to be average New York City high school sophomores. Until our homeroom went for flu shots. We were prepared for some side effects. Maybe a headache. Maybe a sore arm. We definitely didn't expect to get telepathic powers. But suddenly we could hear what everyone was thinking. Our friends. Our parents. Our crushes. Now we all know that Tess is in love with her best friend, Teddy. That Mackenzie cheated on Cooper. That, um, Nurse Carmichael used to be a stripper.

Since we've kept our freakish skill a secret, we can sit next to the class brainiac and ace our tests. We can dump our boyfriends right before they dump us. We know what our friends really think of our jeans, our breath, our new bangs. We always know what's coming. Some of us will thrive. Some of us will crack. None of us will ever be the same.

So stop obsessing about your ex. We're always listening.

My Thoughts:

What would happen if you were a sophomore in high school and were able to read the thoughts of those around you? Would you use your newfound power for the betterment of society—for yourself?

This is what Mlynowski explores in her latest teen novel.

Mlynowski’s tale follows a classroom of sophomores, all in line to receive their annual flu shot. But something about this batch is off; something goes wrong, and as the kids start to discover that they can read the minds of those around them (and vice versa), the fun begins.

From minor “cheating” in the classroom to a showdown at a birthday party, there is a little something here for all readers.

Parts made me laugh; parts made my heart thump; new friendships were formed; others were torn apart; and I found myself turning the page to see how it all ends.

What a fun read. I found the plot to be interesting, engaging, and fast moving. From the moment those kids stepped into the nurses office until the end of the story, I was hooked—and ready to read the consequences of their new power.

And there were interesting on-the-page play with this idea. Especially when a school cafeteria comes into play; after all, isn’t that where all the awesomeness usually happens in high school? And dances. And parties.

I mean, they are in high school. They are mostly fifteen. Their lives are more a mess than anyone can imagine, but when that is no longer a secret, when those surrounding know every thought, detail, secret, how do the characters cope? How can they grow and bring the story to a head?

Well, Mlynowski does so flawlessly. She has characters that teens can identify with in some way, and she has an engaging idea that can keep those teens hooked into the story, contemplating their own thoughts, details, secrets. What if those in their own classes knew all that was happening, and they were powerless to stop it? Oh the horror—and I think this is what most teen readers will find most intriguing.

For me, I read it as a reader as well as a teacher. I just cannot imagine what would happen if students could read my mind, or if I could read theirs. Yikes!

I was curious to see how all of this was going to end and I had many questions while reading: would they be discovered? is it a weird science experiment gone wrong? could this really happen? And my final thought: this is why I don’t get a flu shot. I would be the one who would end up with a batch of Spidermanesque funk and end up with some weird “power” I don’t want.

I think that is about all I can say without revealing important plot points—and there are a lot in this book.

While the cover is adorable, I really don’t think it fits the plot. It makes it appeal more to girls, and I feel like this is a unisex book. The boys’ thoughts are on the table just as much as the girls’ thoughts. They are equally humiliated, and interesting. Their ups and downs match that of the girls, and they seem to get equal page time.

Publishers should really think about that when putting covers on books. If I was a teen boy, I wouldn’t touch this book with that cover. But boys, I think you would enjoy the storytelling too. Just wrap the cover with a brown paper bag, like back in the old days when we did that. It will be okay. And you will read a pretty interesting tale.

Do I recommend this book?

Absolutely. I recommend this to all fans of Mlynowski, but also readers of Stephanie Perkins and Elizabeth Eulberg. Mlynowski has a smooth style to her storytelling that is approachable for a variety of readers, and this plot is engaging enough to keep readers from tween up invested in the characters and the story.

Let’s talk about books—what’s the best novel you’ve read lately?
Happy Reading!

-      The Hodgenator

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