Smackdown Books 2018

Wolf Hollow
Salt to the Sea
The Serpent King
Optimists Die First
The Hate U Give
Orphan Island
Dan vs. Nature
The Female of the Species
Upside Down in the Middle of Nowhere
Paper Girls, Vol. 1
The Passion of Dolssa
The Distance Between Us
When We Collided
Louis parmi les spectres
Girl in the Blue Coat
Defy the Stars

Friday, January 18, 2013

The Silence of Murder vs. The Fingertips of Duncan Dorfman

So imagine being placed on a team, and the one day you are at home, sick in bed (cough, cough, hack, sneeze) your so-called “teammates” conspire together and elect you to write the Smackdown blog.  Thanks, Arlene and Maureen.

Our choice was unanimous and a fairly easy one to make.  It was not that one book outperformed the other, as neither book is strong enough to make it past the next round; rather, one book did not deliver what I had expected. Perhaps it was “judging a book by its cover” that swayed my decision. When the cover art shows three teens, one of whom is on a skateboard, being chased by a person in an alligator costume, I assume some lighthearted and funny episodes lie within. Even the title The Fingertips of Duncan Dorfman leads the reader to expect a certain level of humor to be present. Now to be fair, the book starts off well enough with Duncan claiming the nickname of “Lunchmeat”, but it never seems to gain a comfortable rhythm or flow. Add to this the exhilarating play-by-play action of Scrabble, and the plot gets mired in the TEDIUM (9 points) of the letter tiles. Perhaps there are some readers that love to follow a game of Scrabble in a novel; I am not one of these nor do I expect that most students are. Overall, the necessary ingredients for a humorous novel were present, but they were never fully developed.  A theme park called Funswamp and a character’s supernatural ability to read with his fingers should provide much more levity than they did. This is a very easy, light and enjoyable read, but not the book to move on in Smackdown.

So why is The Silence of Murder our choice to move forward to the next round?
Right from the start, the reader is intrigued.  I found myself wondering, “What is the voice of God?” and  “Why is Jeremy not talking?” The plot moves quickly to the main problem of the story which, as the title indicates,  is that Jeremy is charged with murder.  Unlike most murder stories that are written for young adults, this one doesn’t have detailed crime scene descriptions of violence, blood and gore, which is a nice change and keeps the story moving.  There are, however, some weaknesses with this book. For most experienced readers of young adult fiction, the plot is telegraphed early on. For a student that is just beginning to get hooked, this may not be the case.  To be fair, I haven’t finished this book and perhaps in the last few chapters horrid events will occur that were not present earlier.  However, my teammates who have read both books also selected this one to go forward, so we are united in our decision.

So The Silence of Murder lives on for another day and The Fingertips of Duncan Dorfman gets put on the library shelf for immediate checkout.

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