books and cleverness

I read books of all sorts, but mostly kids' lit and young adult literature and speculative fiction for all ages—usually from a feminist perspective. 

 

I've adopted a personalized version of the CHOICE reviews approach to recommendations/star ratings:

***** = Essential, a.k.a. truly love, absolute must-read, buy it now
**** = Highly Recommended, a.k.a. this is a really good book; I would buy it as a gift
*** = Recommended, a.k.a. pretty good; worth reading
** = Optional, a.k.a. meh
* = Not Recommended; a.k.a. this is not a good book

The Pricker Boy

The Pricker Boy - Reade Scott Whinnem

As a ghost story, this book has some very creepy moments. As a drama dealing with some serious problems, this book has some very painful moments. What kills it:

 

1) If you, a budding writer, specifically designate a character as a smartass, you had better make damn sure said character is, in fact, clever and hilarious.

 

2) Nobody, least of all teenagers—who are expert code-switchers, by the way—says "items," they say "things." Nobody says "placed," they say "put." Nobody, not even writers, speaks a story in formal prose.