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Hair in All The Wrong Places Paperback – June 7, 2016
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From School Library Journal
Gr 5–8—Like most 13-year-olds going through puberty, Colin Strauss has to deal with extra hair, body odor, and growth spurts, but turning into a fledgling werewolf makes things a lot more complicated. Forced to live with his bitter grandmother because his high-powered lawyer parents couldn't be bothered with him, Colin slumps through eighth grade, constantly bullied, harassed by figures of authority, and convinced that he is a total loser. A turbulent and hazy night changes all of this when he gets bitten by a werewolf. Fellow middle schoolers will commiserate with Colin's life challenges. Secondary characters are well-developed, as are the supernatural elements of the story. However, the pace of the first half of the novel often makes it difficult to understand what is happening, requiring frequent rereads. Once the plot is established, though, it is a real page-turner right up until the satisfying end. Several unrealistic characters border on hyperbolic, such as a hired principal who has "absolutely no qualifications," a teacher who has "a particular hatred for students and other teachers," and the only doctor in town, "a notorious drunk who [is] just as likely to fall asleep during an appointment, as he [is] to diagnose the common cold as Ebola." There are explanations for some of this behavior revealed later on, but most of the adults encountered in this work are cruel and incompetent. VERDICT Hand this one to students interested in supernatural creatures of all kinds, light romance, humor, and action.—Carina Gonzalez, Lawrence High School, NJ
"Hand this one to students interested in supernatural creatures of all kinds, light romance, humor, and action." - School Library Journal
"The plot of this story was very exciting and always kept you hooked. This book has an excellent story, and I never wanted it to end!" - Julian, Age 12, Kids Book Buzz
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Top Customer Reviews
Colin's body is developing rapidly. He's less skinny, he can see and smell better, he's got an appetite and he has a lot more hair. What happened to him on the night he took his grandfather's car and why can't he remember? What's the connection between what happened to Colin and the classmate who's been eaten on that very same night? Colin has to figure it out before it's too late and more people will get hurt.
Hair in All The Wrong Places is a funny story about a boy who doesn't enjoy going to school and living with his grandmother. Colin's life is sad and lonely. He isn't afraid to speak up though and has a wonderful sense of humor. His reactions often made me laugh. When his body changes Colin's life becomes completely different, but fortunately he still has the same good-natured personality, which makes him a fantastic main character. The same goes for Becca, who's strong and inventive. She knows something Colin doesn't know, but he's bound to find out. A lot of secrets are being revealed and Colin finally understands many of the things that initially left him puzzled. Andrew Buckley has a great sense of timing and makes every revelation at the exact right moment.
Hair in All The Wrong Places is fast-paced and fabulous. I loved Andrew Buckley's ironic writing style. His writing is also vivid, to the point and laid-back, which makes it easy to picture everything he describes. I loved Colin, the people around him and the mysterious Elkwood. This book is both magical and entertaining, which is a good combination. I thoroughly enjoyed this cheerful story filled with creepy monsters.
Colin, a lanky weed of a kid whose reflection in the mirror agrees that he is a total loser, is sent to his grandmother's house because his parents couldn't be bothered to look after him. For most kids this would be a devastating occurrence, but for Colin it turns out to be the best thing that could ever have happened to him. Admittedly he is almost immediately bullied at his new school, nothing new there, but then he gets bitten by a werewolf when trying to run back to his parents; no idea why after the way they treated him, but there you go.
This turns out to be a positive event in his life and his new found strength and muscle growth are quite appealing to him. The increase in his sense of smell is also a boon, sometimes, as there are some things he can smell that I'm sure he would rather not.
The tale that follows is a fun read and will keep you pretty much enthralled throughout the entire novel and I have no hesitation in giving it five stars. I could have said more in the review, but any more would probably involve spoilers or me wittering on until I'd practically written out the entire novel :)
Colin Strauss and his reflection always agreed on one point: he is a loser. A big, lanky, 13-year-old wearer of glasses who lives with his grumpy grandmother in Elkwood, who made it clear that she believes her grandson a total waste of oxygen. His life was miserable. But that is over now. Suddenly, hair is sprouting all over Colin’s body. He does not need glasses anymore. His sense of smell is hyper sensible. And the muscles! Maybe he should fear his transformation but he actually enjoys the changes. Good Bye loser, hello werewolf! If only he were not uncertain if he had something to do with the murder of a fellow pupil. Has he – ick – eaten him? Colin must find out what happened in that fateful night and needs to learn to control his abilities before other people get hurt. While he tries to solve the mysteries of his werewolf-existence, he stumbles across secrets shedding a new light on his home town. Apparently, Elkwood is a lot of things – but definitely not boring.
I am always especially glad when an ARC appeals to me. It is nice to give positive feedback to an author. The email I sent to Andrew Buckley after reading “Hair in All the Wrong Places” was a reason to smile for both of us. I loved the book. It convinced me with wit, charm and a lot of action.
As expected, I totally enjoyed to experience Colin’s transformation into a werewolf. He euphorically observes every physical detail of change. His ability to be happy about his metamorphosis secured my sympathy for him. Often enough, Shapeshifters are melancholic little crybabies grieving for their humanity instead of welcoming their new strength. Colin is different. He willingly sacrifices his wimpy existence as a human in favor of the power that comes with being a werewolf. He hated his life, he hated Elkwood, he hated the thugs who made every school day miserable for him and probably he also hated himself a little. His infection is a mercy teaching him to accept himself the way he is. He likes his new identity, finally grows into his life and even acquires the attention of his crush, Becca. Few young adult novels get along without a love story and “Hair in All the Wrong Places” is no exception, though I found this one adorable and not a bit flashy. Becca is more mature than most girls her age and has a pleasantly serious charisma. She improves Colin’s self-esteem and shows him that it is okay to be individual. They are a cute couple. I was glad for Colin despite the predictability of their relationship. To me, it was also obvious that Colin simply could not be the murderer of his schoolmate Sam. He is a good boy and could never kill someone, not even in his werewolf-form. This story line turned out a little transparent, since all hints clearly point in one direction. Pretty early, I developed a suspicion which proved true in the end.
However, the great revelation about Elkwood caught me with my pants down. I did not see this coming, though I did feel that something strange is going on there. I was shocked – in a positive way. The secret encasing Elkwood is gigantic, fantastic and possesses a lot of potential for sequels. This small town is truly special, which is why I would have appreciated a more lively, palpable atmosphere. So far, Andrew Buckley’s style of writing is quite graphic. In my opinion, he should align himself closer with the principle of “Show, don’t tell” to underline the uniqueness of his setting and to let Elkwood’s particular character speak for itself. Thus, it would be much clearer why Colin could not choose a more suitable place for his transformation into a werewolf.
Sometimes, easiness is more important in a novel than an ideal plot-construction or a faultless style of writing. “Hair in All the Wrong Places” is not perfect and it does not have to be. Finally, Colin is neither. It is funny, fast-paced, creative and original. It has a lot of heart. I believe that Andrew Buckley does not take himself too seriously and deliberately tells his story with a winking. In my view, his main goal is to entertain his readers. A goal he accomplished. I loved “Hair in All the Wrong Places” and I am looking forward to the sequel, which is due August 2017. I keep my fingers crossed for Colin that he will survive puberty as a werewolf unscathed.
Many thanks to Andrew Buckley for providing me with an ARC in exchange for an honest review!
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