Tuesday, September 25, 2012

This Is Not A Drill

McDowell, B. (2012). This is not a drill. NY: Penguin.
YA Fiction / Realistic Fiction

QuickNEasy, 224 pages, ages 12+

I gave this 4 out of 5 stars on Goodreads, but I probably would give it more like 4 1/2 if I could.  I had an advance/uncorrected galley copy (thank you Penguin, for being at the TLA Conference!), so it's possible some of what held me back from giving it a 5 will be corrected when the book is released in October.
Unfortunately, the book is no longer fiction but realistic fiction given the world we live in and the number of school shooting incidents. It is a good story and shares a perspective that we don't often see or hear about: the thoughts and feelings of the shooter, told by the shooter in the midst of the crisis. The book is not a good example of what anyone should do in this situation (attempting psychology and heroics with someone who holds a gun), but it made the story interesting and gave us more insight into the Emery and Jake, the two teenagers.

Though the book has a romance angle, it's really background. I think boys would enjoy reading this as much as (maybe moreso?) than girls. The story is told alternating chapters between a high school senior girl and a high school senior boy. This was a good way to present the story, but this is also part of why I scaled my rating back from a 5 star.  You get the same events replayed twice - once told by Emery and once told by Jake. This got tedious for me and even though they were seeing things differently, there was still a lot of repetition.

The book says this is for ages 12 and up / 7th grade and up, and it's actually written at that level. Pretty basic writing; however, the language is pretty raw at parts, including very realistic, intense descriptions of war, death, and an F-bomb thrown-in. Realistic, given the character of the shooter, but maybe a little much for some 7th graders.

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