26 February 2013

Book Review: "The Jerk Magnet" ("Life at Kingston High," No. 1) by Melody Carlson

Author: Melody Carlson
Publisher: Revell
Originally Published: February 17, 2012
Synopsis: Chelsea Martin is a big-time geek.  Not only does she focus on academics and other "nerdy" subjects, but she is very socially awkward, and guys don't really take notice of her.  However, she is in for some big changes: Her widower father is getting married, and she is moving to San José, California!  To prepare Chelsea for her new life, her fashionista stepmother-to-be Kate gives her a makeover, which causes her to be the belle of the ball at her new school.  However, Chelsea's new-found good looks are attracting some of the wrong guys and causing some of her female classmates to despise her, and it's making her uncomfortable; with the help of her friend Janelle, they show everyone the real truth about physical appearance.

Story: 3.75/5
We've all seen the movies where the homely girl turns into a knock-out; anyone remember Princess Diaries and My Big Fat Greek Wedding? Still, instead of just using the female lead as a showpiece, this story makes a good point that I refuse to give away in this review.

Writing: 4.25/5
Though there were some rough spots, Mrs. Carlson's writing is just as good as, if not better than, it usually is.  I've read some of her other works--the first few True Colors books, every Carter House Girls novel except for the last one, and even some of her Christmas fiction--and this is right up to par with all of that.

Content: 3.25/5
If you have a "Y" chromosome, you might find some of the descriptions to be too much; if you don't, you'll likely understand where the characters are coming from.  Discussions of Chelsea wearing "skimpy" swimsuits, all of which are worn around guys, appear several times, though she is uncomfortable with it every single time, and ends up deciding not to do it anymore.  Also mentioned are overly tight bras and deep cleavage.  I realize that a twenty-five-year-old guy such as myself isn't exactly the target audience for this novel, and most female readers will likely laugh it off; still, I felt it worth mentioning.

Conclusion: After enduring some terrible novels, The Jerk Magnet was a breath of fresh air.  A captivating, engrossing story with great writing? How much better can you get? Though the book wasn't perfect--see above for why--it was still an amazing read that read like a Disney Channel Original Movie.  Fans of Christian young adult fiction should check this out immediately!

Score: 4.25/5

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