Monday, September 29, 2008

Total Knockout: Tale of an Ex-Class President by Taylor Morris


Thirteen-year-old Lucia Latham isn't like ordinary girls. She's about to be elected junior high class president for the third time -- an unprecedented occurrence. Plus she's a competitive boxer, waking every morning at 5am to practice. To call Lucia driven doesn't even scratch the surface. So this year, Lucia has no reason to believe that she won't have things under control.

But no sooner is she elected three-peat president than she's impeached! Now it's up to Lucia to rebuild her carefully constructed world in time to not only save her political future, but also her own self image.

Grade: B+

Thanks to Taylor for the book!

At first I thought this book was cover endearing to MG readers, because, really, isn’t it cute? I’d at least have picked it up back when I was categorically MG.

Now I have to wonder who the hell designed this. With that package, don’t you think it’s a cutesy story about a sixth grader or something similar? Even the description seems to point in that direction


So imagine my surprise when I began reading and found that this pretty much borders lower YA. When I was in seventh and eighth grade I was already devouring older YA books—and if this had come out back then, I probably wouldn’t have deemed it too immature to be read by my more-grown-up-than-thou self.

So, yeah, it’s fine for older people.

When Taylor offered this to me, she said she “appreciated honesty, both negative and positive”. I’m sure this is her half-blessing for me to make of her book what I will, and while I do love getting my snark on, I regret to inform you, Taylor, that it won’t make an appearance this time around :)

I really liked this. (Second positive MG review in less than a week—wow, I’m a groupie!) Let me make a list of why because I’ve tried straight reviewing and it’s not working on this:

The character building was excellent. I could imagine these characters leading their life as depicted. What I mean is, it didn’t feel like any were plot devices yet they all moved the plot forward anyway.

Boxing! I quite don’t like it myself, but Lucia had a knack for making it both relevant and fun to read about. Not to mention the fact she actually deduced real-life lessons from boxing, which makes her character perceptive and reflective.

And the plot was pretty fun, too.

Now, there were some sketchy things left unanswered...

I’d argue that what Melanie did was as bad as what Lucia did. Why was Lucia the only one who had to step down?

What was Nicole’s deal? She was the knickers-in-a-twist school paper reporter who made all her articles sound negative at Lucia’s expense. I was hoping her vindictive attitude toward Lucia would be a subplot, but alas...

The online polls thing. When I was in junior high, we couldn’t do the most ridiculous things like wear bandanas because they’d been used as gang signs in the past and the school didn’t want to encourage bullying. The US is notorious for a strict zero-tolerance policy for any type of mild, suggestive bullying demeanor—so what was up with the allowed online cattiness? (This is pretty anal of me, but then again, I am rather fond of using my posterior as the looking-glass to the rest of the world.)

BUT, my persnickety observations aside, great read. I could see how this might be able to stretch into a series—more time to explore Lucia and Cooper’s oo-la-la-ness a little more.



Amee said...

I think school's are actually less strict about online bullying and such because they are unsure how to deal with it. I've seen several stories about school's doing very little about cyberbullying between students. It's a newer form of bullying and technically off school property so it's hard to know where to draw the line.

Anyway, great review as always! Although I did miss your snark. ;)

Alea said...

I agree with you, that cover screams 6th grade. And I agree with Amee they don't know how to deal with it since it usually happens outside of their walls plus sometimes they don't even know about it. I think some kids from my old high school got suspended last year because of pictures of underage drinking on facebook.

Simply_Megan said...

I was wondering, what does MG stand for? haha.

Anonymous said...

Loved this book - so glad you did too! Great review, and I do agree with your cons, esp. the Nicole one.

Megan- MG stands for Middle Grade. It's the level below YA but above picture and chapter books.

Unknown said...

Yay for Taylor and this review! I've had the book for a couple weeks now, and am hoping to read it soon. Glad you enjoyed it, butt-gazing aside. ;-) xo

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