review: “boys, girls, and other hazardous materials” March 31, 2010Posted by Katie in reviews.
Tags: realistic fiction
Boys, Girls, and Other Hazardous Materials by Rosalind Wiseman.
Putnam // Hardcover // 288 pages.
Reviewed from purchased copy.
After a horrible eighth grade year, surrounded by frenemies and pressured to do what they want, Charlie Healey is certainly ready to make a fresh start at a new high school. But when she arrives at the school, she finds out that her past isn’t so easy to escape — there’s her childhood best friend Will, and Nidhi, one of the girls that the popular crowd tormented at her old school. And that’s not all that’s going on — Charlie’s got to figure out who her friends are and what exactly Will is hiding from her…before it blows up in her face.
I have mixed feelings on this one. I really liked its potential, but it didn’t really achieve it throughout the course of the story.
The first half of this novel is about Charlie and high school; typical freshmen issues — finding friends, joining clubs, classes, lockers. There’s little to no plot. And when Nidhi shows up, I thought, plot! But their differences are quickly gotten over and Nidhi becomes one of Charlie’s friends.
I was interested in Charlie’s life, and pleased to read a YA novel about freshman year. But the plot doesn’t really show up until more than midway through the novel when Charlie discovers that there’s more than meets the eye to the peer pressure and bullying around her.
And then, the plot moves quickly until the end of the novel, which does have a nice wrap-up, without leaving readers wondering what happens.
Charlie also annoyed me sometimes. I was frustrated when she started sounding like a mouthpiece for anti-bullying campaigns instead of a real teenager. (It didn’t happen often, but when it did — whoa.)
The supporting characters (Nidhi, Michael and Sydney) wound up being my favorites. And I did root for Charlie and Will to figure out that they needed to date, but only mildly.
Overall, this is a cute fun (slightly flawed) read that I know will find a place in YA literature. Public libraries would definitely benefit from having this in their collection.