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Surprisingly Strong Debut
on January 24, 2012
Disclaimer: I do not know the author personally. I first heard of her book on a writer's forum. A poster created a thread in order to accuse the author of gaming Amazon's system in order to create fake 5 star reviews. The author is new; unknown. Slammed is her debut book. Within seven days of release she managed to gain an unprecedented number of five star reviews. She came across this thread and tried to defend herself. She claimed she utilized the power of social media, as well as gained the support (tweet) of the Avett Brother's band. She also said she wrote the book in a month. I was intrigued and curious by all of this. I decided to read the book in order to give a fair, objective, and balanced review.
I confess that I had low expectations for this book. I found it hard to believe that someone could write and publish a book in thirty days and gain all five star reviews. First let me say, I read a lot of young adult books. This is definitely a young adult book, and quite frankly, she did an amazing job (especially considering the amount of time she spent on the book). I was blown away.
Is this book perfect? No. Hence -four stars. She writes in the first person, present tense, which is difficult to do, and requires the reader to make a shift. It took me awhile to get comfortable. She did a good job of staying in the present tense, but there were sentences here and there that felt a bit awkward. The book was relatively clean of typos and convention eras (another amazing feat in such a short amount of time). I spotted about three errors that jumped out at me -things like an extra word or capitalization. These minor issues are fixable and do not take away from the story.
The characters were strong, compelling, and believable. I was somewhat bothered by Kel's age. Kel is the younger brother of the main character. He is 9 years old, but there were times in which he seemed like he was five or six. His actions, reactions, and interactions with his sister were not typical of a nine year. They were often younger. In fact, I think it would make more sense to the story line if Kel and Caulder (Kel's friend) were younger, especially considering their reaction Kel's mother's secret.
The main character is Lake. This story began as a sweet YA romance, but quickly turned into much more. Lake and Will faced an ethical and moral dilemma of such a degree it shut down their relationship, but it did not shut down their feelings. This in itself made me read further to find out how this situation would be resolved. But there was more. Lake's mother had a secret that turned their world upside down. I began to care about Lake and what happened to her. Will was a likable character with a strong emotional appeal. The story moved from sweet to intense, and as a reader, there was no turning back. I had to know how this all turned out, even when it became emotionally difficult to read.
One of my favorite parts of the book was the inclusion of a poetry slam in the story. The poetry the author wrote in the story on behalf of her characters was amazing. The poems added emotional depth to the story and the characters. Everything flowed together beautifully.
The author's voice was strong, young, and believable. The characters were well developed and gave the reader an emotional punch. The story ramped up quickly, and by no means left you hanging. Overall, I must say, I think the author is a rising star in YA. I've come to the conclusion that if she used the power of social media, and gave this book away for free to hundreds of young people, I do not find it outside of the realm of possibility that these young adults would give her five star reviews for this book. It is definitely five star worthy. This book needs a bit of tightening and cleaning up, but the average reader probably won't be bothered or even discerning of the minor issues in this book. The story carries itself. I am amazed that the author did this in a month. That requires some serious talent, and I will give her the credit she deserves -she is very talented. I recommend this book to young adults (high school and up) and adults alike. The emotional impact of this story will effect you, and make you want to hug your children and parents.