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Courtesy of Teens Read Too
on August 5, 2011
Marley is an expert on Star Trek - TSO (the Original Series), AV equipment, and bullying. He's a seventh grader who recognizes his place in the school social network - Geek with a capital G. He's not alone. Ramen, Troy, and Patrick are also fellow geeks and members of the AV Club. There's also a new member named Max who turns out to be quite a surprise.
Now that the AV Club has been awarded the status of an actual class at Rancho Rosetta Middle School, the group at least has a place to feel safe once a day. They have fun learning about AV equipment and being the minds behind the real workings of the school. Without their expertise, teachers would have malfunctioning computers, tangled film projectors, and DVD players with no sound. Marley feels comfortable with the equipment and happy arguing with his friends about which is best - Star Trek or Star Wars.
Before and after school is a different story for Marley. He is the target for every bully in the school. He is so used to being punched, shoved in his locker, and chased home by the biggest jerks in the school that he has come to expect nothing less. Reporting the harassment is not an option, since the school principal doesn't even know his name and his parents have problems of their own.
Marley lives in an ancient movie theater called the Rialto. His father doesn't like going out in public and chooses to spend his time running the theater, which is pretty much a losing proposition. Marley's mother is blind. Despite her challenging disability, she teaches piano lessons, cooks wonderful meals, and spends her free time playing golf. Marley knows his folks love him, but he doesn't feel he can share his troubles with them since they have so many of their own.
Seventh grade is proving to be more of the same as far as the bullying goes, but several new developments have Marley hoping this year might be different. First, there's Max, the new member of the AV Club. Marley and his buddies are shocked to learn after several days in class with this Max character that Max is actually a girl. She's not a Star Trek or Star Wars fan; instead, she's all about Batman, but they still welcome her into their group.
Then, after the collapse of AV teacher Mr. Jiang, the group finds themselves stuck in Home Sciences class working on some crazy partner project involving garbage bags and fashion. Marley can't believe his bad luck when he is partnered up with Emily Ebers. She seems pretty bossy at first, but the more they work together, the nicer she is to him. Maybe this is the year he will have some luck with girls.
Author Lisa Yee's WARP SPEED continues the stories she has created in MILLICENT MIN GIRL GENIUS, STANFORD WONG FLUNKS BIG-TIME, and SO TOTALLY EMILY EBERS. Marley's character returns here to share his own story. It is full of humor, crazy middle school antics, and family problems. The use of a bullying theme also gives it a current connection to what is happening in schools today. Middle grade readers won't let this one gather dust on the shelves.
Reviewed by: Sally Kruger, aka "Readingjunky"