Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Book Review: Spanking Shakespeare

Title: Spanking Shakespeare
Author: Jake Wizner
Genre: YA Literary Fiction (Humor)
Rating: B-

Summary (from Shakespeare Shapiro has always hated his name. His parents bestowed it on him as some kind of sick joke when he was born, and his life has gone downhill from there, one embarrassing incident after another. Entering his senior year of high school, Shakespeare has never had a girlfriend, his younger brother is cooler than he is, and his best friend's favorite topic of conversation is his bowel movements. But Shakespeare will have the last laugh. He is chronicling every mortifying detail in his memoir, the writing project each senior at Shakespeare's high school must complete. And he is doing it brilliantly. And, just maybe, a prize-winning memoir will bring him respect, admiration, and a girlfriend . . . or at least a prom date.

Review: I picked this book up because I have a real thing for (in terms of loving to) reading books with male protagonists who are written by guys. I bought this book on Saturday afternoon and read it cover to cover in about two hours.

The characters are all funny, and I found myself laughing out loud at a couple of points (especially when Shakespeare gets stoned, not something that I generally love to read about, but he's so funny and Shakespeare decides against ever doing it again because of what happens during his high).

My only real drawback in terms of Wizner's literary debut was the lack of contractions. I know it seems like a little thing, a weird thing, but Americans speak with contractions and to read stilted prose that doesn't utilize any contractions is weird. [Don't believe me? I'll rewrite that previous sentence sans contractions and you can see for yourself. Americans speak with contractions and to read stilted prose that does not utilize any contractions is weird. See, only one contraction, changing "does not" to "doesn't" makes it more readable.]

You might say that's Wizner's editor's problem, but he should have caught that in pre-review. As he was reading aloud (because that's a smart way to do your own self-editing), he should have realized the text wasn't flowing the way a teenager would talk. (And this is kind of a shame because he does a really good job with language choice... making it teenager-esque without sounding like an adult trying to sound like a teenager.)

The book rated a B- because of the stiff language (as referenced above) and the plot was a little bit too textbook. I knew exactly what was going to happen by page 75. (Granted, the fact that I kept reading it even though I knew where it was going should be a feather in Wizner's cap.)

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