Traditionally, series fiction for teens is light, fluffy, and more likely to be found in a beach bag than on a required summer reading list. But lately, series fiction is starting to take itself a bit more, well, seriously, a good example being The Black Book: Diary of a Teenage Stud
by the mysterious Jonah Black. A projected trilogy, the true author of Jonah's fictitious journal is hiding behind the Black name, apparently not yet willing to take credit for this Twin Peak-ish, literary sex tale. In the first volume, "Girls, Girls, Girls," Jonah reveals his difficulty in separating his rich imaginary life with the real world. Between writing about his steamy, disturbing encounters with the beautiful and possibly made-up Sophie, Jonah also documents some cold, hard facts about himself: he was expelled from his Pennsylvania boarding school, his former Florida high school is forcing him to repeat 11th grade, and his mom is a scary New Age sex therapist who writes books like Hello Penis! Hello, Vagina!
Who wouldn't retreat into a fantasy world? But as Jonah's writing progresses, he begins to drop hints about his sordid Pennsylvania past, and savvy readers will be able to start to put together the clues of his unexplained expulsion. It isn't likely that Jonah's quirkily complex diary will entice the usual Sweet Valley High series reader, but it is sure to intrigue teen fans of oddball writers such as Daniel Pinkwater and Douglas Adams. It's weird, but this darkly humorous mystery is definitely worth it. (Ages 14 and older) --Jennifer Hubert
From Publishers Weekly
Through his journals, Jonah Black (who's listed as the official author) narrates this engaging, if offbeat, first installment, chronicling his return to Pompano Beach, Fla., after he's booted out of his Pennsylvania boarding school. He's forced to repeat his junior year, listen to his mother, a self-appointed "sexpert" and author of the bestselling Hello Penis! Hello Vagina! host a shallow radio call-in show, and watch the best friend he's crushing on fall in love with a worthless womanizer. These often painful doses of reality are overlaid with surreal sexual fantasies, the majority of which involve the girlfriend he left behind (in one, Sophie does a striptease in a classroom). Readers willing to navigate these unannounced imaginative episodes will race through this fast-paced read to collect clues about the cause of his expulsion and to see if Jonah's breaks from reality mean he's crazy or just creative. Regardless, he's instantly likable, and his vulnerabilities, acute description and tenuous hold on reality make for gripping and often humorous reading. Some readers may be frustrated by how many strings are left untied, even as they eagerly anticipate Jonah's next book. Ages 9-up.
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