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Sunday, February 28, 2010

Review: 8th Grade Superzero

Title: 8th Grade Superzero
Author(s): Olubgemisola Rhuday-Perkovich
Genre: MG Contemporary Coming-of-Age
Page Count: 324
Publisher: Arthur A. Levine Books

The Summary: For middle schooler Reggie McKnight, being called “Pukey” is the least of his problems. School elections are coming up, but he’s as far away from being school President as he is from shutting down his enemy Donovan or meeting up with the beautiful Mialonie. His friends Ruthie and Joe C. have his back, but let’s face it: Reggie can only be a superhero on the pages of his graphic novel, Night Man.

Then Reggie gets involved with a local homeless shelter, the Olive Branch. Haunted by two of the clients there -- George, a once proud man now living on the streets, and five-year-old Charlie, who becomes his official “Little Buddy” -- he begins to think about making a difference, both in the world and at school.

-- from goodreads, though I omitted the last sentence, as it was spoilery.

The Review: I basically inhaled this novel between the hours from the time I had breakfast to lunch. It was adorable! I wasn’t even put off by the superhero stuff! (Note: Not a fan of superhero genre.) Reggie was lovable, and I really liked how he makes mistakes that not ONLY are acknowledged within the text, but he owns up to his mistakes and apologizes to the wronged party later. It’s nice to see our protagonists not being Always Right. I also liked how Rhuday-Perkovic handled Reggie volunteering at Olive Branch and the homeless residents, how helping out became gradually more and more important to him. And it was tres cool that there were a number of kids in the cast who were concerned with social and/or global issues. It wasn’t done in such a way that I thought these middle graders were acting too old for their age, and also I can see how giving this book to a middle grader can make them think about these issues at hand.

But my favourite part of this novel was Reggie’s relationships with the significant people in his life. I think, out of all of them, Reggie’s buddy relationship with Charlie was the sweetest. (Dora shoes!! ♥) I loved the every changing perceptions of each other, and how their actions influenced each other in good or bad ways. Reggie and Ruthie’s relationship was adorable too. Childhood friendships are the best!! Their love is trueeeeeeeee. (Who’s Mialonie again? =P) I even liked the sibling antagonisms between Reggie and Monica! These moments are always the ones that get me to switch sides from sympathizing with our protagonist Reggie to wholeheartedly supporting Monica. I love Reggie but he’s so clueless about girls. (And also, being a sister, with sibling arguments, I firmly believe that the sister ALWAYS wins. Natch.) Reggie and Monica’s talk was one of my favourite scenes in the whole novel. It was awkward, and loving in the only way squabbling siblings can be, and I love it. I loved seeing how, with siblings, you can be very cruel to one another, but when it comes down to it, you care, even when you don’t show it. I just wish there were more Reggie and Monica scenes. There is just not enough sibling interactions in MG/YA fiction.

If I have to complain about anything though, it’d be the villains. I know it’s from Reggie’s perspective, but Donovan’s villainy was a bit too 2D for me. We got a tiny glimpse of another side to his character, but it was never really developed so that we see Donovan is a character that went beyond his mean bully role. Vicky wasn’t quite as bad in comparison, but still, not as developed as I’d like. Also, while I knew Reggie’s mom was there, her presence wasn’t very strong, especially next to his father and sister. But these are just minor quibbles. The cast more or less satisfies me. I particularly appreciate how there were lots of minor characters around that, while we don’t see a lot of their background, we get just enough of them to feel like they have whole and separate lives beyond Reggie and not like, stock minor characters. =D

I liked the pacing. It was steady and gradual, building up to a good climax and finale. My favourite aspect was the fact that not everything stayed the same, and how we see people and people’s relationship with one another change over the course of the story. I also liked how multicultural the people in the story were, AND MOST IMPORTANTLY how, while their ethnic background is a factor of their identity, it is NOT the dominant driving force of the story. It’s so rare to find POC protagonists with stories that aren’t all about their racial identity, so I reallyyyyyy like that.

The Verdict: If you haven’t read this awesome debut yet you should definitely plan to. Reggie is a wonderful protagonist and it’s cute and funny and FUN and I am already forcing my youngest brother to read this, and basically this book comes highly recommended by me. READ IT!

Rating: 4/5
Enjoyment: 100%

Title and Cover Discussion: The title is absolutely PERFECT. I also am charmed by the cover. I love the colours and the yellow with the dark skyline and silhouette. It's very colour designed oriented, as oppose to, you know, the usual photo stock images or even illustrated covers, so it sticks out for me. I kinda wish the shoes at the top were Dora though. But that's really nothing to kibble over.

Title: A+!
Cover: A

Thank you Zetta, for mailing this to me!
This counts for POC and Debut 2010 reading challenge


Color Online said...

Very glad to read your review. Linking it.

MissAttitude said...

I totally agree that Dora shoes should be on the cover!!!

I gave it the same rating and I agree, i loved this book and I recommend it all the time (reminds me of Steph Su's post about books she rates as 4 are the ones she recommends and rereads all the time) but I too never really understood why Donovan was such a lame. book. I agree the mom was just there.

And I agree, more squabbling siblinbg interatctions but in the middle! Too often the only time we see sibling interaction is in extremes, they totally hate each other or they love each other and I don't think either is completely relaistic. Great exchange between Monica and Reggie. And yes it was really nice to read a book where racial identity is not the key factor of the book, Reggie is Jamaican but it's no big deal.

So yeah this book owns and I totally want to go reread it now and wish that I was Ruthie!

April (BooksandWine) said...

8th Grade Super Zero looks awesome. I've seen so many good reviews of it. Plus, MG fiction is fun and so quick to read.

So glad you enjoyed this :-) I can't wait to read it.