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4.3 out of 5 stars
Vibes
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
TOP 1000 REVIEWERon September 16, 2008
Format: HardcoverVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
When I read the summary for the book I was instantly curious. A book about a high school girl who thinks she is psychic and goes through her days being able to read the thoughts of her fellow students and everyone else in her life. Knowing how brutal high school and how cruel teenagers can be I was wondered what direction the author would take the story.

The story is told in the first person, in the voice of the psychic teenaged girl. Her voice is unique and fresh. The action in the story moved along at a quick pace never losing my attention. In fact I began reading this before going to bed and ended up reading it in one sitting, not wanting to put it down. I was surprised to see that it was 2:30 in the morning when I finally went to bed (I never stay up that late). I just had to know how the story would wrap up.

This is realistic fiction set in today's world. The main character's parents are separated and her mother is a workaholic surgeon climbing the ladder at the local hospital. The main character, Kristie, is unhappy and disconnected from her parents (her surgeon father has been volunteering in Africa for a couple of years). Kristie tries very hard to be different and disconnected from her fellow students (wearing heavy makeup and dressing in homemade weird clothes from trash found in garbage bins on the street). As with many of today's teenage girls, Kristie uses profanity and thinks she is ugly and makes other negative statements about herself. Also typical of real life, many of the teenaged boys are more interested in looking at her large breasts than looking at her face.

I enjoyed the book not just because it was a page-turner, but because in the end numerous problematic things turn out right and are heading in the right direction. (Some young adult novels published today have negative elements in them and there is no movement toward fixing the situation. I was happy to see this book moving in the right direction on the various issues.)

I shed a few tears before the story ended, especially because it is clear that the main character's attempt to have a tough exterior was an attempt to hold in and to cover up her hurt and pain. Without giving the story away I will share that Kristie's family situation improves in the right direction, not the best scenario but in a better place than what it was at the beginning of the story.

Although I did predict two big things that happen I still enjoyed the story and won't downgrade my rating due to the predictability factor. Perhaps every reader will not make the same prediction as I did. I could also have done without some of the profanity and the numerous negative references to the girls own large breasts, I understand that they were included to describe the state of mind that the character was in (angry and hating herself).

There are good lessons in this book. There are issues in the book that would make for interesting discussion between girls and their mothers or at a book club for teenaged girls. I don't think that this book would be of much interest to boys (but I could be wrong) so I am not sure that this would be a good pick for required reading for discussion in a high school class or for a high school summer reading list. Some of the discussion topics are judging people on their appearances, judging girls based on their breast size, how teenagers treat each other, teasing, how teenagers try to hide their pain and how hard it can be to be a teenager dealing with real problems such as divorce. The book also contains a girl with an eating disorder (who seeks inpatient treatment). The book contains a homosexual male character too which I'm sharing in case you want to know what other types of issues are present.

This is an entertaining escape read for teenagers yet has some good values addressed within the story. The book will pull readers into the story and they will be anxious to find out how the story wraps up.

Families who want to avoid book with supernatural content would probably choose to avoid this book because the main character thinks she is psychic.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Format: HardcoverVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I didn't start out liking Kristi Carmichael, our main character: she is hostile, sarcastic, sometimes intentionally cruel to strangers and classmates alike. I was drawn into the story, however, and she grew on me, with her creativity, her ability to admit to her own faults, and her eventual willingness to question the unquestioned postulates of her life.

There is a lot of ugliness in this story - think of your own high school experiences, viewed through the jaundiced eye of a hostile teenager - but it offers the possibility of growth, even of truth. I liked it!
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12 of 15 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon September 6, 2008
Format: HardcoverVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
This book is extremely captivating, engaging, and great for all ages. I am past my teen stages and yet I still enjoyed the book immensely.

Kristi is a self-proclaimed psychic who thinks that because she knows what everyone thinks, that she knows everything about everyone. She starts out extremely angry and progresses throughout the book. I thought that Amy Kathleen Ryan developed Kristi beautifully. As the book progresses, the reader really get a glimpse of who Kristi is and discover new things about her just as she is discovering them herself. It is an amazing journey that she takes the reader on and kept me turning the pages to see what happens next.

One thing I want to point out is that I was quite happy about how the mind reading was written. While most books may just put words into the thoughts, there are parts of the book where she doesn't actually hear the thoughts, but instead feel thoughts. I thought that this was the most realistic way of writing about mind reading because when we feel something, when did we think clearly in words, "I feel so happy" or "This is making me mad." I know it doesn't work that way with me. I felt it was portrayed very well and there was just enough of the mind reading in it.

I do not want to give too much away about this book but it is a great read for teenagers who are also struggling to find themselves.

For parents who might be concerned about language, there are quite a few of the B word in the book but mostly only for the beginning and only one incidence of the S word. Overall, it was a pretty innocent book for younger readers. There is nothing sexual and nothing really inappropriate.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Format: HardcoverVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
At first, readers may not like Kristi Carmichael, a creative but bitter outcast who experiences a transformation during the autumn of her sophomore year. She plays dangerous practical jokes that could potentially cause injury (and eventually do), and she secretly keeps a cat despite the fact that it makes her mother ill. She's also a bit obsessed with her own breasts and protests too much that she doesn't want the hottest boy in her joke of an alternative high school. Moreover, she considers herself fat and ugly, but that doesn't quite add up because she has three apparent suitors - the dweeby but loyal sidekick, the gorgeous skater god, and the intriguingly rebellious new boy. To complicate matters, Kristi is slightly psychic.

Author Amy Kathleen Ryan is quick with the razor-sharp lines. When Mallory, the new rebel, tells Kristi he was kicked out of his last two schools because he "doesn't deal well with education," Kristi responds, "You're in the right place. We don't really have that here." The clever insults in the lunch line also fly fast and furious. Furthermore, Ryan does a very good job showing how intelligent and honest Kristi is in painfully poignant scenes with her less-than-heroic father.

During the course of this short book, Kristi grows emotionally and realizes that, despite her psychic powers, she's been short-sighted, recognizing the "negativity filter" through which she's been seeing the world, thereby discovering that maybe people haven't been as mean or unfair to her as she thought. Not everything ends happily ever after in this engrossing novel, but Kristi is rightfully rewarded with what she wants most. Though there are a couple believability issues, the book is relatable and likable without being falsely sweet. Recommended.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on September 1, 2008
Format: HardcoverVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I more than most can understand that being an offbeat teenager can make you feel isolated and vulnerable and desperate all at the same time. With so many books about popular kids using and abusing their equally popular cronies or dorky kids managing to infiltrate the ranks of the cool, its nice to read a book about teens just being teens and learning to love themselves by accepting who they are.

For Kristi Carmichael listening to opera music, playing stealth practical jokes, making her own "found" clothing and reading people's darkest thoughts protects her. After her dad walked out on her mother, Kristi didn't think she could ever trust anyone again, and she goes to great lengths to keep everyone at bay so she doesn't have to be hurt again. Then Mallory, a fiery-haired temperamental teen enrolls in their ex-hippie run private school, and she thinks she has finally found a friend who understands her. But maybe it's Kristi who needs to be the one to offer a little understanding of her own.

This book was a wonderful, innovative alternative to your standard YA self-image novel. The character descriptions are spot-on--my personal favorite is Kristi's description of Mallory's hair: "His hair is neon orange, and it's bushy and very long. He has it crammed into a ponytail, but it looks like any second the rubber band will explode and his hair will escape to roam the earth, staging military coups and taking high-profile hostages." And Kristi's narrative voice is so raw and real I kept reading it aloud to whomever happened to be in the room ("How many lives does Puberty have to ruin before it is finally stopped?").

For a girl who would take Carmen over the JoBros any day and who thinks her boobs are too big and has too much junk in her trunk, this book was easy to connect with. But it's also for anyone who thinks they aren't good enough or just a little too different or has maybe been hurt one time too many. It was a joy to read.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Format: HardcoverVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )Verified Purchase
I'm a high school librarian and I think that teen girls will like this book. It reminded me of the musical, "Hairspray" because the heroine is quirky and heavyset -- but has a hidden ability. In this case, she is capable of reading other peoples' thoughts -- or so she thinks. Despite being predictable as far as the outcome of the main story line, there are some surprising poignant moments as various teens and adults interact with the main character. I particularly liked the evolution of the mother-daughter relationship. Kristi attends an unusual school, Journeys, run by an exhippie. Classes include morning meeting, contemplation, afternoon personal time, culinary arts, exploration of nature and processing. During one assignment, Kristi is paired with the boy she has had a crush on since her preteen years, Gusty. After a series of ups and downs, Kristi discovers that perhaps her psychic abilities are both good and bad and figures out her true motivations. I liked the character because she was not a brilliant, beautiful, athletic, talented girl. She was flawed, and in this, will be endearing to teenagers who are struggling with their own self image. Various topics of interest to teens are included such as anorexia, homosexuality, unfaithfulness, smoking and other typical teen concerns such as acne, popularity, school life, fashion, and social status. There is no sex or violence in this book. Recommend for high school teens.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on January 4, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Let's see. I'm fourteen, and I picked this up at the book store because it looked interesting. Over all? It was ok. There were a bunch of...awkward moments for me, but I may have just been a tad too young for this literature.

Besides that, I think this book has a very good demonstration of the emotional feelings a teenage girl goes through. People can think some really harsh things, and it kind of makes you realize that with so many problems in the world, we as humans can be really cruel sometimes. With things like acne, anorexia, or for Kristi, 'advanced development' (to put it politely), it's tough being a teenager. Still, in the end, you know there are some great people along with the bad. You just need to find them.

Ahem. Er, so yeah, this book was alright, as I said before. I don't strongly recommend it, but it's a good read.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon January 13, 2009
Format: HardcoverVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I might not be a teen anymore, but at 27 I still adore Young Adult fiction. It's bubbly, vibrant, hilarious and often little sad but reflective in a good way. Maybe it's easier reading it when you're not a kid yourself anymore, but it sure is still fun. This story has a little twist, our main heroine, Kristi Carmichael has a talent; she picks up vibes or rather thoughts of anyone she encounters and it all started when her dad left her and her mom to travel to Africa, absorbed in his medicine and perhaps guilt of leaving. She moves through her high school like a ghost ship, indifferent of what people think about her, strong and solid, she has her own style, her own friends and parent issues, the usual teen problems that we all have or had.

One would think that reading thoughts and minds would be some sort of a leverage to get ahead in life, but for Kristi, who has pretty poor self body image and issues with her separated parents, dealing with thoughts of ever boy and girl at her school is anything but easy, in fact it seems to distract her form what is really happening.
When she gets paired up for an assignment with her secret crush, one that she keeps berating herself for even considering liking something changes , for better of for worse, Kristi starts to really listen for the first time and see the truth rather than hear empty thoughts that perhaps aren't even real. The boy who in his mind is calling her sick might be just what she has been looking for, and the surprise that awaits her is the real kick.

Fun and feisty, this was a very quick read and I am really looking forward to more of this author, I had a few laugh attacks as I read this witty book and it made me long for more books like this.

- Kasia S.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Format: HardcoverVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Besides myself, I also had my 15 yr-old daughter read this, as I believe her review would be more accurate for the targeted audience. So you are getting a 2-in-1 review.

This is a coming-of-age tale about a sophomore girl who feels that she is an outcast with no real friends in her school. She sneers at the popular crowd but longs to fit in somewhere and feel loved. She hides behind a tough wall of sarcasm and her opera-blasting headphones (and plays some nasty pranks on people in the community). She also has some powerful intuitive abilities.

My daughter gives it 4.5 stars. Her response is that the main protagonist, Kristi, is well developed (no pun intended) and sympathetic. She is quirky, creative, earnest, colorful, razor-sharp, and witty. There are also constant references to her "ginormous boobs." Kristi is also typical of the insecurities and contradictions of a post-puberty intelligent teen. She is coping (not always well) with abandonment issues in her family as well as alienation from friends.

Her psychic abilities are a double-edged sword. It hinders as well as hurts. I don't want to give any more away about that.

Kristi is a harsh judge of others and of herself. She thinks that she is fat and ugly, unpopular and an outcast. However, through her (often unreliable) eyes, the reader starts to pick up, through other characters, that she is curvy (not fat), beautiful in her own way, and a self-made outcast. She put up major walls to other people when her parents split up two years ago and her dad left the continent and her mom became career-obsessed. She has a dark sense of humor, but not too dark--she has a dose of optimism that keeps her going.

The pace is pretty fast and is packed with humorous and sharp observations about the politics of high school, the pain of loss, and the conflicts of growing up. Kristi has to learn about her own blindness toward others, also. She is afraid to connect, so that becomes the driving theme of the narrative--learning to connect in healthy and satisfying ways. Kristi is a verbally combative, funny, insecure, and very emotional girl. Her vulnerability is deeply felt by the reader and her strengths are not fully formed. My daughter said that Kristi is the quintessential high-school girl--with a twist.

My daughter's main complaint was the repeated references to Kristi's breasts. She felt that it was a bit overdone--that the point was made too much and got annoying after a few times. Also, she thinks that the ending was not as believable as the rest of the book. I don't want to comment any further and ruin it for the reader.

My views are pretty well aligned with my daughter's. I would give it 4 stars. It is highly readable and engaging, and it is a good morality tale for teens. It is definitely chick-lit for ages 14-17. (There may be some teen boys that would enjoy it, but I think the percentage would be small). Due to some complex issues, I would not recommend for under 14. The book deals with numerous issues: broken home, popularity, isolation, identity, friendships, homosexuality, anorexia, and trying to survive through it all. Most teenage girls would be able to identify with at least some of the issues covered in the novel. I recommend this as a book for mothers and daughters to both read and discuss together. It is an excellent way to examine the social issues of high school and the vicissitudes of personal growth and maturity. And it is a great bonding book!
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon October 12, 2008
Format: HardcoverVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Vibes is a novel about a psychic girl. Or is it?

Kristi, the main character, thinks she's psychic, and she may well be. Interestingly enough, this is NOT one of the many psychic/supernatural YA novels that have been springing up lately. Kristi's 'psychic powers are not the main story of the book. The main story line concerns her growth as a person and her coming out of her shell and dealing with her anger about a fundamentally unfair situation (abandonment issues when her father left the family).

Kristi is a girl who struggles with an absent father, a workaholic perfectionist mother, an unusual school setting, body image issues, and her own self-image and self-worth.

There are no supernatural occurrences, no vampires or witches or anything like that. It is a simple story of Kristi's growth from a self-isolated self-involved child into a more open and mature young adult.

For those who are concerned about such things, there is smoking and a small amount of drinking in the book. Although the main character thinks about boys a lot, and their reaction to her large breasts, there is no sexual content beyond a small amount of kissing. The father leaves the family to be with another woman. One of the major supporting characters is homosexual, and a minor character has an eating disorder. Both characters are treated very sympathetically.

Although the main character is female, I would recommend this book for boys and girls.
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