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"Never read books you aren't sure about . . . even supposing that these bad books are very well written from a literary point of view. Let me ask you this: Would you drink something you knew was poisoned just because it was offered to you in a golden cup?"

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Sunday, June 7, 2009

The Switch by Anthony Horowitz

The male version of Freaky Friday (almost). Instead of changing places with his father, Tad changes places with a boy who works in a carnival.

But let’s back up. First, Tad lives in a sumptuous mansion with a narcissistic mother and nearly-absent, busy-working father. One day when he was denied the opportunity to take the field trip he wanted, he wished he were someone else. He managed to wish at the exact same, once-in-several-thousands-of-years time that the wishing star shifted orbit… and voila: next morning: he is Bob Snarby.

On the surface, Bob is the anithesis of Tad. He lives in a filthy trailer with verbally abusive parents. He also is recruited by Finn, a nasty bad guy, to break-and-enter homes.

Tad (now Bob), tries to break-and-enter his old home, ends up arrested and then he's farmed out to a charity which was operated by his own father. He finds out that the charity is a front that actually tests his father’s business products (beauty items) on homeless children instead of animals. He also finds out that his father orchestrated a violent genocide against an Indian tribe who refused to sell their jungle plant to him....

It all ends with the death of Finn, the arrest and incarceration of Tad’s parents, via Tad’s own maneuverings, and the potential rehabilitation and friendship of Tad and Bob returned to their own bodily forms.

It’s a pretty shallow and formulaic story by an author who writes a boy-friendly spy series (Alex Rider ). It has medium readability. The violence is the biggest safety-issue. The bad guy, Finn, explains (though not in great detail) how he “wrote” all over a tattoo artist who had mangled his own tatoo with his this man's needles and caused the man to go insane from the torture. He later kills a man via stabbing when he breaks and enters his home with Bob (who is now Tad). And he dies in the end in a dramatic scene, via being shot by police and then falling off the top of a high roller coaster. Yes, he’s the bad guy, and “lived by the sword; died by the sword,” but this is the equivalent of modern American TV show appealing to flashy and dramatic violence. Blech.

Safety Rating: 1 Vatican Flag


elm June 9, 2009 at 10:17 AM  

Good to know... You mention a boy-friendly spy series, Alex Rider, by the same author. What if anything do you know/think about that series?!?! My (nearly eight year old) boy loves all things "spy." So, I am curious about that series!! Thanks!!!

Tween Lit Crit June 9, 2009 at 3:06 PM  

Hey Elm,
I am sorry to say that I haven't read through an entire Alex Rider novel, but I do remember being on a Catholic discussion once where these were recommended as safe and appealing boy books. (but not all of his others). I perused them and then let my 13 yr. old girl read them, and she liked them a lot. She said they were fine, but hey, she's 13. You could try reading the first one out loud to him; even if you only get half-way through, you'll know by then if it's going to be up-to-par!

elm June 10, 2009 at 8:05 AM  

Thanks a bunch! Reading aloud to him... hmmmmmmm. I wonder if he would have that kind of patience with me anymore! He reads so fast that he gets impatient when I try and takes the book away after less than a chapter... It is what we do if we think he'll like a book and he thinks he won't. We read the first "bit" because he snatches it away since we don't read aloud as fast as he can read to himself!! I'll have to look into them and read it in a secret room and then pass it on to him!!!

Tween Lit Crit June 10, 2009 at 4:58 PM  

he sounds just like my number 2! (snatching books away is a good problem to have!) I'm going to review a bunch of good books for boys his age soon; it's my summer project... I don't know if you've tried this, butif I really want to review a book before her, I get CD's because it's harder for her to grab audio books and get ahead of me. My library is really good and has a lot of them. I figure by about chapter 4, I have a good idea if they are ready for the book and if anything's going to be questionable... I think the Alex Rider series is a pretty good bet, though. I'm going to put Korman's Chasing the Falconers up to the top of my list because I think your guy would like it. If he's already read it, that's OK. I was going to review it anyway... hope you're getting lots of sun, BTW :)

elm June 11, 2009 at 2:00 AM  

He hasn't read Chasing the Falconers... but, he is game for nearly anything on paper! :) We will be off and running for a while - so, if it is good, maybe I can find a fancy pants bookstore to purchase it for in the car while we are on the road... That is, if you happen to read and review it before we make it home - amongst your five (other) million books you seem to read in a week! I surely do not know where you find the time to read all of these books! Do you eat? I do, maybe I should quit that eating bit!! Keep up the great job with all these reviews!! I love reading them! Perhaps you should start one for adults, too. I suppose it might take you a "normal" amount of time to read an adult book, though - and you'd only get to one review a week or so!!! :)

We've had sunshine... and clouds with rain!! I love rain and thunderstorms in the summer!!! On our trip to the midwest, I thought I was going to have to spend most of my time begging and praying and hoping for at least one GOOD thunderstorm to tide me over, but we have had several in the past weeks! Yahooooooooo!!! Rumble rumble rumble - that sound says curl up in a big overstuffed chair with an afghan, a cup of hot tea and a great story to read!!

Tween Lit Crit June 12, 2009 at 9:51 AM  

my hubby is from the midwest, so I got a big smile about the thunderstorms... he's converted me from being nervous about them to liking them when the rare one hit our area.
I do eat, but sometimes my hubby has to make me sit down while I'm doing it. my bad. (but I do sit down at restaurants... .like the Cheesecake Factory:))
Have a great summer; I hope a few good summer storms head your way...

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