Friday, February 28, 2014

Don't Even Think About It by Sarah Mlynowski

Main character: The students of homeroom 10B, all high school sophomores
Location: Bloomberg High School, Tribeca, Manhattan
Time period: Contemporary
Genre: Contemporary life, slight element of science fiction/fantasy

After getting their annual flu shots, the students in homeroom 10B develop the ability to hear everyone's thoughts.  Hijinks ensue, as do confusion, opportunism, emotional upheaval and moral dilemmas.

The book is written in a communal voice, which I found very appealing--it's rather like a first-person omniscient narrator.  We have seen stories told by alternating narrators before, or even a small collective of two or three characters, but this is the first time I have seen a collective of 20-odd characters speaking with one voice--and some of their snarky asides are delightful to read.

Of course it is impossible to give equal focus to all the students, and the story winds up being largely about seven kids.  The ones that touched me the most were shy Olivia, whose new power allows her to gain confidence and learn that she doesn't need to change herself just to please a boy; Tess, who discovers that she is not willing to be some boy's second choice; and Cooper, who discovers lies and betrayals on so many levels but emerges at the end as a strong and perceptive young man.

Then there are those who purposely use their powers for self-advancement.  I was not fond of Pi, but I appreciated her storyline; she is so focused on advancement and exceptionalism that she is willing to cheat on a test by reading the thoughts of her academic rival--but is thoroughly disgruntled when others position themselves to cheat off of her.  And that's nothing to what she attempts to do to the whole group later on.

The writing style is very light and easy.  It's a quick read.  It also reads young which could attract reluctant readers.  It could also attract younger readers which is problematic since, like a lot of contemporary books set in high schools (especially affluent high schools), there is a casual attitude towards sex--nothing graphic, but still something that is not necessarily appropriate for Mlynowski's youngest fans.

I read this as an e-ARC from NetGalley.  Don't Even Think About It is scheduled for release on March 11, 2014.

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