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"Saying 'I notice you're a nerd' is like saying, 'Hey, I notice that you'd rather be intelligent than be stupid, that you'd rather be thoughtful than be vapid, that you believe that there are things that matter more than the arrest record of Lindsay Lohan. Why is that?' In fact, it seems to me that most contemporary insults are pretty lame. Even 'lame' is kind of lame. Saying 'You're lame' is like saying 'You walk with a limp.' Yeah, whatever, so does 50 Cent, and he's done all right for himself."— John Green


Metamorphosis: Junior Year (Review)

Title: Metamorphosis: Junior Year
Edition: Hardcover, 128 pages
Author(s): Betsy Franco
Publisher: Candlewick Press
Publication Date: October 13, 2009
Source: Amazon.com


The Summary
Life. Love. Death. Identity. 

Ovid’s got a lot on his mind, and he pours it all — as confessions, observations, narrative poems, and drawings — into the pages of a notebook. Inspired by his namesake, he wryly records his classmates’ dramas as modern-day Roman mythology. There’s Sophie and Caleb, the Psyche and Cupid of cyber-couples; poetic Paula, who pursues filmmaker Franny like Apollo chasing Daphne; and graphic novelist Duwayne, a Proserpina shuttling between divorced parents. Meanwhile, Ovid hides his own Olympian struggles: his meth addict sister Thena has run off, leaving him with a suffocating home life and a disturbing secret. In her striking YA debut, Betsy Franco introduces an expressive soul with a heartbreakingly authentic voice. Fantastical ink illustrations by her son Tom Franco enhance the intimate tone, delving deep into one intriguing teen’s imagination.

 My Opinion
What drew me to this book wasn't a review from a fellow book blogger, or even word of mouth from a friend.  Nope, I bought this based on plain old book summary (the one listed above in fact).  I have an obsession with Greek/Roman mythology.  I've read The Odyssey 20 times, watched each movie made about the myths (super excited for The Eagle to be coming out!), and tried to read as many YA books based on the subject (some of my favorites: Psyche in a Dress by Francesca Lia Block, The Lightning Thief (Percy Jackson and the Olympians, Book 1) by Rick Riordan, The Eagle of the Ninth (The Roman Britain Trilogy) by Rosemary Sutcliff & Nobody's Princess (Princesses of Myth) by Esther M. Friesner).  So when I saw that Betsy Franco (mother of James Franco) used Ovid's Metamorphoses in a modern context I was excited!

Unfortunately, when I started to read I was disappointed.  Yes, the story is told in poetry, with a mix of prose to make it more tangible for modern teens, and the illusions  of each character is really good, there isn't enough.  Like when you get a bite of some great dessert, but that's all?  That's how this book was for me.  I wanted more: more character development, more explication, more coherence.  I think it would have been easy to accomplish with the format presented.

This is really upsetting because the writing is beautiful.  There are some really great lines: "But Thena beat every poetic bone out of their bodies.  They walled up that part of themselves, and it'd take a lightning bolt to crack them open again" (pg. 66).  But no matter how good the writing is, the plot is suffering.  All the reader has to wrap up a book with some pretty intense issues being explored, such as, cutting, anorexia, sexual abuse, meth addiction, is an epilogue that simply has a couple of lines about each character.

In addition, Franco has her other son, Tom, include his art to help illustrate the book.  The drawings are suppose to be as if Ovid (the protagonist, go figure) is drawing them.  I understand what Franco is trying to do, but I don't feel this really adds anything to the book.  The drawings are somewhat confusing to look at, which could have been really good as Ovid is confused and dealing with a lot of things, but they end up just detracting. 

I really wanted to love this book, but I didn't.  I like it, I don't regret buying it, but I just wish it was ten times thicker than it is.

 Final Rating
Book Cover: 4.5/5
Book Title: 3/5
Plot: 6.5/10
Characters: 7/10
Writing: 8/10
Overall: 35/50 - C

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