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Mini-review: The New Phenomenon (Chris Raabe)

Product Details:
Reading Level: Middle Grades, young YA
Pages: 368
Publisher: WriteLife, LLC
ISBN: 9781608080397
Source: book from the author in exchange for an honest review


The New PhenomenonEvery teenager wants to fit in, and Christian Pearson is no different. He is a phenomenon on the athletic field and in the classroom, but a terrifying accident on a fishing trip with his grandfather changes Christian's life forever. As he enters his freshman year of high school, Christian hides a secret that he plans to take to his grave. When the Pearson family moved from the city to the sleepy town of Red Oak, Iowa, before his freshman year of high school, Christian hoped for a smooth transition to small town life. Being the new kid in school has been a blessing and a curse. Most of the boys in Christian's class view him as a threat, so Christian struggles to fit it, but as an outcast, his secret is safe. When three freshmen, all from the same family, start school a week late, Christian senses something different about these new students. He reaches out to "The Three" seeking some semblance of friendship in his new hometown. When "The Three" confront Christian about the secret he hides, Christian is faced with a huge problem. Will this secret cost Christian his friends, his family, his freedom, and even his life?

My thoughts:
Innovation– I liked that the majority of this story felt realistic. The situations that Christian, the main character, faced were believable (i.e. bullying, peer pressure). I think younger teens could relate to his experiences as a freshman in high school. There was an element of paranormal to the plot. I liked how the author used the mystery of Roswell as part of his plot.

Story– I would consider this one a paranormal thriller/suspense book. While many of the conflicts that the main character faces are realistic, his special power that makes him a government interest is far from your everyday occurrence.   There was enough suspense to keep the pages turning, even though I found myself scanning over the lengthy football details. (Main character is a football star… more teen boy appeal.) The G-rated romance factor would appeal to girls, but not make the boy readers want to vomit from mushiness. =)

I feel that this book is geared more towards the young male reader because there is a lot of detail given to football terminology and team dynamics. I think that would grab the attention of many male readers. The subtle inclusion of the paranormal elements didn’t overwhelm the story, which would act as a smooth “introduction” to the genre for a reader.
Characters– I liked Christian well enough. He’s a typical main character—nothing that really stands out and wows me. I did appreciate his fascination with S.E. Hinton’s The Outsiders and Clint Eastwood. The characters that I liked the most were Alexis and Christian’s dad. If I grew up in a small town, my own father would be this character: strong and supportive with a corny sense of humor. The whole family dynamic with this set of characters was very wholesome.

I liked Alexis because there was a sense of mystery about her. She was rough around the edges and tough as nails. She rocked. She stood up to the school bully in a very classic scene. That brings me to another character… Calvin, the antagonist. I didn’t like Calvin but that is because he was well written. You aren’t supposed to like Calvin. He was a bully and a punk. The author did a good job showing those character traits.  
Sticky Fingers – I read this in two nights. The plot had a steady ebb and flow of climax building and suspense. The author’s writing style is easy to read. The characters’ dialogue reminds me of what I might hear in a small mid-western town (a far cry from the urban setting that surrounds me).

Emotional Connection – Neutral. There wasn’t much that I could connect to as a reader, other than my love of S.E. Hinton books.
Overall– 3 stars. It was an easy read that would probably appeal to boys (sports fan).

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