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Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Book Review: Cassidy Jones And The Secret Formula

Cassidy Jones And The Secret Formula is a young adult novel, the first in a series, written by Elise Stokes. I usually don't read young adult (aka YA) fiction but this one seemed promising and had lots of positive reviews.

The premise is simple and predictably comic booky: during her dad's interview with a famed geneticist, fourteen-year old Cassidy suffers an accident that enhances her strength and senses. Shortly after that the scientist is kidnapped. When the scientist's son Emry comes to live with Cassidy's family, the two join together to find Emry's mom.

I'm a little on the fence about this one but hear me out. First the bad. It's written in first-person POV, which I've stated before that I don't like. Next is the dialogue; which, while not horrible, isn't very good, especially for a teen novel. However, I do know that writing dialogue, especially good dialogue, is one of the most difficult things for a writer to do. I know I have atrocious dialogue and I can forgive Elise on this. Some writers are just naturally good at it. The dialogue in the novel serves the purpose of conveying information and moving the plot forward. But the characters just don't seem to have a unique voice.

Each character has their own personality but I found Emry the hardest to wrap my mind around. He is supposed to be mature beyond his years, because of his genius intelligence, but something about him just seems...off. While trying to make him mature but a teenager at the same time, it seems Stokes hasn't quite got a handle on how to write him.

These quibbles aside, I liked the book. I liked it for what was not in it. Angst and romance were in short supply, which I was thankful for. Cassidy loves her family and she isn't bitter or angry towards them. Her and her brother have the regular sibling rivalry but I love the fact Cassidy is smitten with her five-year old brother. Rather than being annoyed by him, she likes it when he smears cookies on his face and just generally likes him, a nice break from the "I hate my family" angst. The family seem a little too clean-cut but they are nice.

Cassidy is well-written and likeable and the main villain is a hoot. The action sequences are fairly well thought out and portrayed well, although a few fights were cut too short, in my opinion, and I would have liked to have seen more feats of strength from Cassidy.

The pacing is fast and the story is enjoyable with likeable characters. I don't know how long the series will go on, and while I may not read every story in the Cassidy chronicles, I'll definitely pick up the sequel. All in all, a nicely executed enjoyable book.

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