Friday, May 21, 2010

My Take On: Catholic, Reluctantly by Christian M. Frank

   George Peterson used to wrestle for a big school. Now he has to go to a Catholic school run by a few parents: John Paul 2 High. Just seven kids in a rundown building where scary things are happening. Then there’s Allie. Gorgeous, yes, but hardly Catholic! Why do they make her go here? And what is Allie so afraid of?

  With a bullet point synopsis reminiscent of Nancy Drew, I wasn’t quite certain of what I was in store for, but I was certain of oine thing: Catholic, Reluctantly was not going to be my usual cup of tea. What I got was a light mystery filled with emotional teen conflicts, some soul searching, hard-hitting elements like hazing and gun violence, and not a lick of magic or monsterage. But I like broadening my horizons, so I gave it a shot. I’m rather pleased that I did.
  The story centers on George, a big time wrestler with a heart of gold who went to the state finals and would like nothing better than to return to his old stomping grounds and his old life, a life where he had nothing to worry about but pinning his opponent and getting his homework done, a life where the impending doom of his new school wasn’t constantly weighing on his mind; Allie an average girl who’s been dropped into a weird, new school after a gun scare at her old school and feels like an outcast among the “goody-goody Catholic kids”; Celia, John Paul 2 High’s principle’s daughter (and the nicest person you will ever read about), who struggles with the weighty belief that she alone has to save the school from being closed down or condemned; and James, a new transfer to JP2 High whose bizarre loner personality and tendency to spout disdain set him at odds instantly with everyone at the upstart Catholic high school.
  A couple unique things I liked about this book were the smattering of IM conversations which filled in the gaps and linked the characters to their respective clicks. The small cast was a little weird at the beginning (I mean a school with only seven students? Sounds kind of strange), but I actually liked it. I thought at first that the author was trying to keep it simple by keeping his (or her) cast so small, maybe make it easier as I suspect that this is his (or her) first novel, but the lack of peopleage was actually very important to the story. The meager student body of the fledgling high school was important; it made it where, in certain situations, the JP2 kids had to either stick together or risk being swept apart. And with such a small group of students there was no room for clicks to form, which really emphasized the fault lines between them. I also liked the (obvious) emphasis on Catholicism; it’s not often that you come across a book that features faith in an interesting and realistic way. It reminded me strongly of The Dead and the Gone by Susan B. Pfeffer in that the characters really struggled with their faith and with what it meant to live it, even when faced by severe persecution. The JP2 High kids really stand out when compared to the rest of the teen populace, and they catch their share of flack about it. When two of the seven teens join the public school wrestling team, more than their skill on the mats is tested. They meet with people who don't understand them, their faith, or why it is that they're willing to stand apart.
I give Catholic, Reluctantly
…Three and a half zombies!
A quick read with an admirable, if not dimensionally challenged, cast and a heavy-on-consequences but light-on-complexity plot that pulled me along and left me wanting more. I look forward to continuing the saga with Trespasses Against Us.

Happy Reading!

NOTE: Sophia Institute Press, a non-profit, Catholic publishing house, sent me a complimentary copy of this book for review.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

And the winners are...

The random number generator has spoken! VVB of vvb reads, a true zombie lover, is the lucky winner. Velvet said her love of zombies are, "too many to count... they just keep coming despite people beheading them ;-D" Great answer, V! And because the randomizer was so much fun to use I've drawn a second winner! The second winner is Corcey of The Flying Muskrat who said, "I love zombie because I love the idea of people eating others brains and us having to run away from them. It makes a great story and I love great supernatural stories with death on the line! Death is one of the biggest prices to pay and when you have to spend your eternity searching and scraping for living people's brains, it just makes it all the more desperate. I love zombies so much I'm currently writing a book where the protagonist's name is Zombie. Love them." I love your blog title, BTW! Corcey will be receiving a surprise work of zombie art entitled "The Attack!"
And while we're at it, I've picked a surprise winner chosen for their clever answer! This lucky winner made me laugh with their hilarious answer. Winner #3 is Heather of Gofita's Page who said, "Zombies rule! My love of zombies comes from Night of the Living Dead which I saw many years ago! I always like to dress up as something dead every halloween and one year was a zombie hippie. That was one of my favorites. Usually buy all the zombie books I can get my hands on as well! There's just something about their brain eating ways that fill me with joy1!"
1: Brain-eating zombies fills me with joy, too.
Heather will also be getting the work titled "The Attack!"
I really did try to post pics of y'alls' prizes, but my computer is being super slooow and won't upload anything *dratted Stone Age relic*. I will try again later, though. In the meantime I'll be getting in touch with you lucky zombiephytes and will be shipping you your prizes ASAP!

So, to sum up:
Winner #1 and recipient of the gilded "Shambling Man" is Velvet
Winners #2 and #3 and recipients of "The Attack!" are Corcey and Heather
Thank you all for celebrating my first blogoversary by entering my little contest and submitting such funny answers. It warms my heart to see so many zombie aficionados!

Happy reading!

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