Sunday, February 8, 2009

Book Review: Evolution, Me, and Other Freaks of Nature

Title: Evolution, Me & Others Freaks of Nature
Author: Robin Brande
Genre: YA Fiction
Rating: D

Summary (from "Your best friend hates you. The guy you liked hates you. Your entire group of friends hates you. All because you did the right thing. Welcome to life for Mena, whose year is starting off in the worst way possible. She's been kicked out of her church group and no one will talk to her—not even her own parents. No one except for Casey, her supersmart lab partner in science class, who's pretty funny for the most brilliant guy on earth. And when Ms. Shepherd begins the unit on evolution, school becomes more dramatic than Mena could ever imagine . . . and her own life is about to evolve in some amazing and unexpected ways."

Review: The review from Publisher's Weekly up on says that Mena is "an immediately likeable narrator"... I guess "likeable" is a relative term. I didn't like Mena, too much of a wet fish, like this book. This book tried to strattle the line--be all things to all people. Unfortuantely, they missed the mark. I was never sure who the target audience was for this. Most people who would have believed in evolution prior to coming to this book would probably have been put off by all of the religious references (and been reaffirmed in their thinking that the majority of Christians are a bunch of ignorant, hypocritical zealots), and Christians would be put off by Brande's mixing of intelligent design and evolution. There are a lot of people out there who believe that there is some hybrid between evolution and intelligent design, but not all and this book was written to come across as if you weren't able to see the connection, then you were in the "ignorant, hypocritical zealot" category.

I liked Casey, I liked his family, and I even kind of got were Mena's parents were coming from. However, I never liked Mena and I wasn't completely sold on Ms. Shepherd (probably because Brande was lazy and never made you really love Shepherd until way later in the book when Kayla talked about their relationship). Also, I find it kind of watery that Mena thought her parents wouldn't want her to date a boy (nevermind that the boy wasn't a Christian), just that she wasn't old enough. Also, how little did she think of her religious convictions (she makes some statement to the effect of dying before renouncing God), but she just seems to keep following whatever majority is most appealing to her at the time? Whatever.

That's why I gave the book such a low rating. It didn't earn an F because it brought up an intersesting topic for discussion, but it's handling of the material was lazy and lacked credibility. (In my opinion, but I've been known to be wrong before.)

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