Friday, May 10, 2019

Guy Friday- Surface Tension

Mullins, Mike. Surface Tension
Published May 8th 2018 by Tanglewood
ARC from Kidlitcon

Jake is out on a long, early morning bike ride when he slams into the door of a tanker truck and is knocked unconscious. He wakes up in the hospital not remembering too many details about his life, so when a girl in a hijab enters his room, he believes she might be his girlfriend Laurissa... until she tries to kill him! His mother thinks he is hallucinating, and as  more threats to his well being occur, no one believes him. His actual girlfriend Laurissa does, and tries to help him piece together what seems to be his part in the explosion of a plane right after take off. In alternating chapters, we also see the experiences of Betsy, who tries to kill Jake. Her father is a member of the Sons of Paine, and they are trying to make it look like Muslims are committing domestic acts of terrorism, therefore creating ill will towards them. Betsy wants to make her father happy, but after several failed attempts to kill Jake, starts to wonder WHY she wants anything at all to do with her father. Jake is under threat from several different groups, and keeps getting involved in horrible accidents, but his mother still doesn't believe him. Can he figure out how to stay safe and how to keep another plane attack from happening before someone finishes him off?
Strengths: This had a lot of action and adventure, and reminded me a little of Klavan's The Last Thing I Remember. It's one of those rare books with a high school character that stays middle grade appropriate. I liked the twists and turns of the plot, and my readers who have worked their way through all of the Alex Rider books will love this one. The biking is great, too, and groups like the Sons of Paine are a timely topic. Laurissa is an especially fun character-- Jake is too often concussed and spaced out to be all that well developed.
Weaknesses: The first scene where Betsy tries to kill Jake is a bit edgy (she climbs on top of him, purportedly for hanky panky, but tries to squash him), and there are some evil policemen, but it's not as violent as Camp Valor.
What I really think: There seems like a sequel could be in the offing, and I would be glad to read it. Definitely purchasing. We need more thrillers (and murder mysteries!) for middle grade readers.

More blather: Started the week with 1,500 books checked out (the collection is 12,451 volumes as of this morning, but I need to do some weeding!), and we are down to 526. All books were due yesterday, but I had two carts of donations to give to students, and that helped. It's amazing how full the shelves get. Once most things are in, I need to check to make sure I have books in series, remove things like Wimpy Kid books that are falling to pieces, and... weed R.L. Stine. The books I have are SO bad-- I have a bunch of PermaBound copies that are at least 20 years old, smell bad, and have pretty much stopped circulating. They are small books, but I must have three shelves of them!

I'm also redoing my graphic novel collection for next year. I have one shelf of picture books that hardly ever go anywhere (again, twenty years old), and some "You Wouldn't Want to Be" books that were hugely popular about fifteen years ago and are "too many words" for most of my students.

Reading tastes in my library have really changed in 15 years. My students are reading younger and younger titles, and a nonfiction book over 50 pages is a hard sell unless it's for research. I've given up on having Guiness and Ripley's books because they fall apart so badly. Our wonderful volunteer, Mr. Woodruff, buys them at Half Price Books, but they only get checked out a dozen times before the cover falls off, so I've stopped accepting them, even from him! I also ran out of space in the 000.00's, so they are on a shelf under the 900s, just sort of festering.

The end of the year is hard! Hang in there, loyal readers!
Ms. Yingling

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