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The Suburban Strange Hardcover – 2 Oct 2012

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The Suburban Strange A supernatural coming of age novel--the first book in a dynamic and dramatic new series--about the shy Celia Balaustine and a mysterious group of misfits at her new high school, Suburban High. Full description

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
More style than substance 25 Oct. 2012
By Assunta Sciarretta - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
This book never captured my attention. There was so much description - of the scenes and of the characters' feelings - that the reader was kept at a great distance from what was happening. The protagonist, Celia, is the classic new girl at school who is swept up into a new world by the older kids who are different, artsy and cool in their own way. So much of the book discusses what everyone is wearing and what particular song the characters are listening to. The songs almost operate as a sort of shorthand, but they don't do much to further the story. I never felt drawn into this book.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
A Mixed Bag... 5 Sept. 2012
By Amanda - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Young Celia is new to Suburban High School, a somewhat prestigious high school full of the haves and have-nots. And most importantly, an influential group of sophomores known as the Rosary, who seem to know what darkness is unfolding at the school. Young girls are having near-fatal accidents on the night before their sixteenth birthdays. No one seems to known what is happening or why, and as Celia nears her sixteenth birthday, she is drawn into a mysterious conflict between good and evil.

Strange is a good word for this book It come across as an odd bag of attempts at literary commentary mixed with the day-to-day struggles of high school students in a more market-friendly package. From the blurb, I was expecting something of a slightly off-beat teen mystery with something of a supernatural flair. Instead, Suburban Strange is more of an obscure collision of commentary about teen sexuality and the social pressures of high school with a dark/heaven and hell type mystery. All with far too many goth-y overtones. (And the gothic overtones were so darn angsty and annoying that I almost couldn't stand them. They made the entire book very drab and somewhat difficult to enjoy.)

Unfortunately, the flaws don't end there. Strange has some serious issues with pacing, especially at the beginning. It was far too slow and took too long to really get going. Yet, when it finally got going the plot did have a lot of promising ideas and some interesting commentary plus some really graphic and lovely writing. But I just felt like this book had some compelling concepts that just weren't realized.
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Interesting 29 Aug. 2012
By BookMonster - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I won't describe the plot because a description of the book is already on this page.

*Interesting plot.
*I love the inclusion of a gay couple, thank you for admitting they exist and not making them stupid.
*Excellent portrayal of a variety of characters. The main character wasn't the only one given depth. The side characters were not all one-dimensional. That takes skill, especially when you have characters that differ so much.
*After you get past the first few chapters, it does take off and get more interesting, not to say that those chapters are un-important, because they are very much so.

*Slow-paced. I guess the beginning is supposed to come off as mysterious and suspenseful, but it just seemed slow to me.
*I don't know maybe I'm just getting tired of high school settings, but I got tired of the day-to-day high school stuff. Seems like the plot could've been accelerated a little bit without harming the story itself.
*For the first few chapters, I had no problem putting it down. Didn't hook me in. It was pretty much all back-story and info dump. One or two things happen that kept my interest but that was about it. And there are some other slow spots throughout the book.

Overall conclusion - It's an okay book, could definitely use some tightening up though. Author has talent and I will look for more of his stories in the future. This book was okay but I think he has the potential for some awesome story telling.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
An excellent debut 11 Dec. 2012
By Keith Dupuis - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I heard Nathan Kotecki speak at a local bookstore in NC. I think the best thing I can say about his debut novel is this: I'd already bought the Kindle version when I went to the reading, but I forgot to bring my Kindle; but I got so wrapped up in reading a display hardcover while I was waiting for the author to begin that I ended up purchasing it again.

YA is a very, very crowded genre. There's such a glut, that I rarely follow a YA story through to the end, not unless it has more substance than a popular plot. I also want to see quality writing, and an attention to detail, and solid character-building, and consistent and creative world-building. SUBURBAN STRANGE, absolutely, has a depth and weight that most YA novels lack.

I'm not going to recount the plot; others reviews have done that. I just wanted to tick off a couple bullets that stood out for me:

* Some genuinely funny, clever dialog and lines.

* Some beautiful description. (My favorite: "Hearing that music had been like seeing a color she never had seen before, or finding a new room in the house where she had lived for years.")

* Since the novel takes place over a high school year, the author invests a lot of time in slowly developing the central characters. Their individual tastes really stand out -- like Marco's fashion sense, or Celia's knowledge of art, or Brendan's taste in music. Even better, the author is adept at sharing a love for these. I felt that I really learned a little bit more about fashion, and alternative music, and artwork.

* The novel is sort-of a YA Urban Fantasy, if such a genre exists; but the use of magic is sparing, which adds to the sense of wonder when it appears on the page.

* The end of the novel leaves the story wide open for a series, but doesn't end on a cliffhanger --- which I appreciate. And I enjoyed the book enough that I'm looking forward to reading more.

Altogether, an incredibly well-worded and compelling story.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Almost... 30 Oct. 2012
By OutlawPoet - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
You always hear the saying Don't Judge a Book by the Cover. I'll make the admission, silly as it is, that it was the cover that made me select this book. I don't think I've ever before begun a book review by rhapsodizing about the cover art, but this was just fabulous art. The cover artist is to be commended.

Now to the story...

The book started out well. Celia was an interesting character, a loner and outsider who becomes part of a mysterious group at her new school. Suddenly, she has friends, style, and seems somewhat above the rest of the students at Suburban High. The book presents an extremely interesting complication of music, art and literature. The mysterious group seems like just the group you would want to belong to. Quickly, though, Celia realizes that things at Suburban High are not normal. Terrible things are happening to girls the day before their sixteenth birthday - and Celia's birthday is coming up in April.

Unfortunately, after that interesting start, the book falls apart a bit. The Rosary (that interesting group) really isn't all that interesting. As you read, you soon realize that far from being the cool kids that everyone wants to be a part of, The Rosary is simply a group of outcasts who have banded together. No one looks up to them or envies them. In fact, most people seem to think they are rather odd and rather arrogant.

And the terrible things that happen to girls before their sixteenth birthday? Well, they can all be avoided if the girls just lose their virginity prior to that date.

The book gives us two opposing factions. The Kind (good magical people) and the UnKind (bad magical people). Oddly, for me, the lines between the two were kind of blurred. Some of the things done by the kind seemed rather shady to me. And some of the things done by the UnKind seem almost a caricature of villainy.

In fact, when the villain of the piece is finally revealed, they go through the whole "before I kill you I'm going to wax poetic about my villainous plan for a couple of pages so that the author can explain why I did what I did" thing. Oof!

In spite of the above, the author shows a lot of promise. The book needs tightening and direction, but has a certain attractive dark edge about it. I would be interested in reading more from the author and would be interested in a follow up to this book.

A note to parents: The whole losing your virginity aspect of the book can be a bit much and I'm not certain I'd want my niece (who is in this age group) to read this. It also takes on the point of bullying as well as a ton of speculation as to which fifteen year old girls are virgins and which aren't. While there are ways to handle the subject of teen sex well, this one didn't sit as well. It really becomes a major plot point in the novel. There are a few token references to only doing it when you're in love or when it's right for you, but most of the characters in the book seem to be very blasé about it. Just a note.
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