May 22, 2014

Review: The Vigilante Poets of Selwyn Academy

Finally! I have found a YA novel that uses rhetorical strategy lingo of my AP Language students. See guys, this stuff does appear in REAL life.

Title: ‘The Vigilante Poets of Selwyn Academy’
Author: Kate Hattemer
Pages: 336
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
Available: NOW at your local library/book store
Source: Netgalley

Summary (from Goodreads):

Witty, sarcastic Ethan and his three friends decide to take down the reality TV show, For Art's Sake, that is being filmed at their high school, the esteemed Selwyn Arts Academy, where each student is more talented than the next. While studying Ezra Pound in English class, the friends are inspired to write a vigilante long poem and distribute it to the student body, detailing the evils of For Art's Sake. But then Luke—the creative force behind the poem and leader of the anti-show movement—becomes a contestant on the nefarious show. It's up to Ethan, his two remaining best friends, and a heroic gerbil named Baconnaise to save their school. Along the way, they'll discover a web of secrets and corruption involving the principal, vice principal, and even their favorite teacher.

My Thoughts:

I read this book in two sittings in March, which is one of my busiest months. That is how much I really enjoyed reading this book.

First, let me talk plot—which I loved. The idea what words can (and do) change the world really drove the storytelling. It is a fabulous reminder to teenagers to actually listen and participate in English class because if nothing else, English teachers can help students learn to use their words in a more effective way—possibly to take down the corruption that surrounds them. Just a thought.

I also loved seeing the upper-level vocabulary words used throughout this novel. I was tweeting my AP Language students because I would see one of their rhetorical strategy terms in the novel. It made me smile.

The idea of reality TV hitting our schools, and we have seen this already, is something not only topical but also applicable to teen lives. I mean, some of today's teens really hold reality “stars” in high esteem. They would love to find themselves on a reality show. I think for this reason, many teenagers will find the novel engaging. For those who are against everything reality TV stands too will find the novel engaging.

I found the pacing to be right on target. As readers, we know what we need to know at the right moments. And the characters, they all brought something to the table. Do you know how sometimes you read a book and you think, “Where is the writer taking this character?” or “Why is this character even here?” Yeah, that doesn't happen. They all build from one another—sometimes what appears to be the most trustworthy character on the page is the one who has the biggest 180.

Which I liked.

Do I recommend this book?

Yes—I especially recommend this novel to readers who enjoy realistic fiction. I thought the novel was a solid read with a solid story and strong characters.

I especially feel that the book is for the more sophisticated reader in your life, but I think anyone who has ever felt like rebelling against anything they didn't agree with would enjoy the novel.

What's the best realistic fiction novel you've read lately? Comment below; start a conversation about books.

Happy Reading!

-      The Hodgenator

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