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Shaken Paperback – May 4, 2012
About the Author
D.M. Anderson lives in Portland, Oregon with his wife, two daughters, two cats, and a neurotic dog. He teaches Language Arts at a local middle school, which is where he developed an interest in reading–and later writing–young adult fiction of various genres. When he isn't teaching or writing, Anderson enjoys staying up late watching horror movies with his oldest daughter, and accompanying his youngest to her swimming lessons. Other interests include NASCAR, heavy metal music, zombies, and Disneyland. His first novel young adult novel, Killer Cows, was published by Echelon/Quake in 2010.
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In Shaken, the story follows three teens who face these challenges. After a traumatic earthquake shakes the western coast of America, a small beach community tears asunder. One teen is a native, the other two are visitors who would have passed through with a few memories in normal life.
D.M. Anderson writes for teenagers using their slang and often showing an insight to their thoughts and maturity level that someone without access to teens regularly lacks. I felt sometimes he let too much slip into his narrative and weakened the flow of the story but luckily, the plot line contains plenty of action to keep a reader turning pages to find out what happens next.
For my cautious readers: I felt the story contained enough villainous acts to maintain a sense of danger without crossing the line into adult material. I only remember one word that would be considered profane. All in all, I am comfortable recommending this book to parents as a discussion book.
Listed as a Young Adult novel, Shaken is a teen-friendly read which occasionally forgoes grammatical correctness in favor of teen vernacular, and its author is clearly familiar with the world view and minds of young adults. (Reading the author bio after finishing the novel, it came as no surprise that D.M. Anderson teaches middle school; his writing reveals that he understands both the complexities and the limitations of teenage viewpoints.)
Anderson writes with commendable balance, combining the excitement and drama of an unfolding crisis with the personal moments of character-defining decisions and realizations, and he manages not to be heavy-handed even in moments where a character or situation conveys a "lesson." His characters illustrate the ways in which media-steeped young people compare real experiences with the impressions and assumptions they've taken away from TV and video games, as the young characters themselves use media fictions as reference points while they arrive at realizations about their own lives and about other people.
There's no "do-over" button in life, as there is in a video game--and yet, people can make new choices rather than let themselves be defined by their pasts, and sometimes there's even a chance for redemption. If that sounds a little "heavy" for a young adult action story, this is where Anderson's skill in avoiding heavy-handedness comes so admirably to light. Shaken offers a compelling storyline made richer by its subtle undercurrents.
More than anything, Shaken is an enjoyable read. Its characters (with the exception of a couple nastier folks who fall somewhat short of three-dimensional) are believable and interesting, the story features moments of humor, and the pace of action doesn't drag even with the inclusion of more introspective moments which could have dragged the plot to a halt in another writer's hands. If Anderson managed to sneak some teaching-moments into his action tale--well, he IS a teacher. Judging by this novel, he's probably an effective one.
I read Shaken in two sittings. It probably would have been devoured in one, except that I read it a few days before Christmas so I was a bit distracted with wrapping gifts and such. It was an intense read, what with the earthquake and all. But I just couldn't put it down. I needed to know what happened to these three teens and others that were in the book.
The way Anderson described the earthquake, and what happens after, made me feel like I was watching it happen. I could feel the tension, the hope, the desperation as characters struggled to deal with the aftermath and trying to survive. My heart was pounding during certain scenes, breaking during others.
Now, I don't want you to think that this was just an action book, because that's so not the case. There was some nice character development in Shaken. I enjoyed watching the teens grow and realize who they really are. I felt for these characters and I cared what happened to them.
Shaken was just a great all around read. For fans of disaster movies, disaster books and just great YA books, I recommend Shaken.
Student Reviewer: EmilyFredricks
You will have to read this book in order to know all the fear that people live through during and earth quake. I felt as if I knew the people and was going through this earth quake with them. It has made me think of what is important and what isn't. The power of forgiveness and getting one with ones life. I liked the characters and the description of the location. A must read.