Friday, August 5, 2011
ARC Review: DEVIANT
The Author: Adrian McKinty
The Publisher: Amulet Books (an Imprint of Abrams)
Expected Release Date: October 1, 2011
The remote Colorado town of Cobalt is known for only two things: its prisons and more recently, its school. Three years ago, a progressive school unlike any other opened its doors. In the controlled atmosphere of Cobalt Charter School, everything is scripted: the dress codes, the class schedules, what the teachers say, how the students respond, and when they can speak, which is almost never. Any parent unsure of how this environment would affect his child need only look at the school's academic record--among the highest in the country--to decide that this is the place for little Johnny or Sue.
Having just moved to Colorado from the bright lights of Las Vegas, Danny Lopez brings Cobalt's student population up to lucky number 100. Lucky for a killer lurking in the small town. Not so lucky for students allowed so few freedoms that they are now sitting ducks.
We all know that I love male protagonists in YA. They are so few and far between, and even less are done well. This is one of those rare gems where the MC not only entertained me, but he made me care what happened to him. Danny is a perfectly flawed character. In the opening chapters, I wanted to smack him. I kept thinking, "Dude, you're such a little punk." even though I sat snickering while he stood blithely by and watched his well-meaning step-dad get himself taken into custody by airport security and almost thrown in jail. All because the poor guy wanted to keep some dude from stealing an unclaimed bag. But, not to worry, folks. Danny learns and grows as the book propels forward, not in one giant leap at the end, but in inches and feet. It's gradual and oh so believable. So, when the action escalates at the end, you're pinned to the edge of your seat, praying that Danny makes it through alright.
And the parents! OMG, the parents! Kudos to Adrian McKinty for not hiding behind the over-used, sofa king irritating 'absentee/irresponsible parent' thing so often seen in YA novels. Yes, Danny's mom works so much, she practically lives at her office. But, she makes him breakfast every morning, relaxes with the family at night, and (gasp!) actually shows concern about her son's well-being. I know. I was shocked about that, too. And then, there's Danny's step-dad. Goofy, well-meaning guy. He just wants to get better acquainted with his wife's son. I almost feel bad for him when Danny brushes him off...well, when I'm not laughing at him for being sofa king gullible.
But, still. PARENTS!!!! I love it. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you, Adrian McKinty.
In regards to the mystery, I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised. I must admit that very rarely do I not guess the killer's identity right from the beginning. This was no different. HOWEVER. Once the killer is revealed, McKinty throws in a little twisty-twist that had me gasping in both amazement and horror.
So peeps, if you're looking for nail-biter of a mystery involving a few spunky kids, involved parents, and one crazy dude with a fetish for killing cats, you will definitely need to check out DEVIANT.