Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Rush for the Gold, Alienation

Feinstein, John. Rush for the Gold.

Susan Carol and Stevie are back, and this time Susan Carol is very close to making the Olympic team. She is approached by all sorts of agents and sponsors because she is not only a fantastic swimmer; she is also pretty. Her father is bowing to the pressure for her to wear logos at every interview, which confuses and angers her. Stevie, writing for the Washington newspaper, manages to go to the Olympic trials to be with her (their long distance romance seems to be working better than most), and when she makes the Olympic team, he goes to London as well. While in London, the politics and agent anxiety increase-- Stevie is yelled at for talking to Susan Carol and not getting proper permission to speak to other swimmers. He has to struggle with balancing his reporting with wanting to be with his girlfriend all the time. Susan Carol has to struggle with an increasingly overbearing father who wants her to fire her long time coach because he isn't "big time" enough, and with the pressure to win a gold--so that she can earn the big bucks in sponsorships. When it is clear that another girl, Elizabeth, is a better swimmer but not as pretty and personable as Susan Carol, Susan Carol becomes angry that looks count for so much. Is someone sabotaging Elizabeth because she isn't as attractive? Stevie and Susan Carol are able to use their well-honed investigative skills to figure this out.
Strengths: Even though this book is about a girl, the guys will still pick it up. I was oddly intrigued by all the swimming descriptions as well as the machinations of the agents. Feinstein's background as a sports news writer is always apparent, and that's a good thing when trying to hook reluctant readers. I love this series and would really like to see Mr. Feinstein write some stand alone titles about basketball or football.
Weaknesses: While the inclusion of actual athletes as characters will add immediacy to the story now, it will also cause it to date, like R.R. Knudson's Zan Hagen's Marathon. Also, because I am not at all familiar with swimming personalities, I wasn't sure which characters were based on real people and which were purely fictional.

Lewis, Jon S. Alienation. (3 January 2012)
Colt is back with his friends Oz and Danielle. They are concerned because the government is warning people away from a nuclear reactor meltdown, but the real problem is an alien virus from which no one recuperates. There are too many things going on to worry about that for too long. Oz's father, Lobo, has hired Krone, a Thule shape-shifting assasin, to kill senator Bishop, who is a friend of Colt's grandfather, The Phantom Flyer. Once Bishop is dead, Krone comes after Colt, although Colt doesn't really know why. It's time for the three to head off to CHAOS training, anyway, and of course they run into all sorts of problems on the way, like flying jellyfish attacking their jet! At the academy, the students learn to fly hoverboards and deal with the Thule invasion, while trying to be polite to more sympathetic life forms. Krone is still hunting down Colt, and when he finds him, shape shifts into Danielle's form and injects Colt with the virus! Who is more evil, Krone or Lobo? Will Colt survive the virus? What about his alien blood? And more importantly, when will the final book be out?
Strengths: Wow! It's impossible to write a review of this without exclamation points! They have antique jet packs! And have lots of fights! The chapters are short!
Weaknesses: While this is certainly an action packed tome that has the added bonus of comic strips in the front, it was a little lacking on character development and, well, reasons for things to be exploding. See? I have not completely turned into a 12-year-old boy!


Betsy said...

I was pleasantly surprised by Rush for the Gold (I haven't read his others). A fun series it seems--despite the uber-current sports names.

Melissa said...

I haven't read either, but I laughed at your review for Alienation. I feel the same way about exclamation points sometimes. :-)

Mrs. F-B said...

Love the Feinstein series, but do not get the audio. He's great in an interview on the radio, but he should leave the book reading to the pros. Looking forward to reading this one just in time for the Olympics! Pretty good marketing on their part.

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