Sunday, February 27, 2011

Book Review:
Plan B

By Charnan Simon 

Darby Creek

Series: Surviving Southside

ISBN-10: 0-7613-6163-4
ISBN-13: 978-0-7613-6163-3

Pub Date: 3/01/11

Reading Level: 4
Interest Level: 6-12
Ages: 11-18

When I first started this book, I was a little taken aback by the simplicity of the writing.  So, true to my nature, I did a little research.  And what I found, impressed me.  The Surviving South Side Series is, as quoted from the press release:

"This innovative YA series is a six-book set of urban fiction novels that's written at a 
fourth-grade reading level, specifically designed for reluctant and striving readers, 
including those who read below grade level or are ESL/ELL student."

And once I read that, I knew I had to review this book.  I think this concept is brilliant.  I've always loved reading, been an avid reader.  But, I also know a lot of people who are not.  And what better way to get teens-who might not otherwise-reading?  The topics are fresh and timely.  The stories are complex but the writing is not.  

Description:  Words are not wasted in this novel-and I mean that in a good way.  Very little description is used.  Settings and characters are integrated into the reader's mind via dialogue or short narrative.  And through this, it's easy to stay focused on the story at hand.  There's no interruptions, sweeping the reader into another world.  Overall, description served its purpose well.  Score: (7.5/10)  

Narrative:  Again, because of the nature of this series, the narrative is well paced and simplistic.  The story line is obvious, but it's supposed to be.  There are no secrets or surprises-although there's plenty of emotional tension. The reader knows the main character, Lucy, gets pregnant.  I found I wanted to keep reading because I wanted to know how she would formulate a decision.  There's not a lot of inner dialogue, even though Plan B is written in first person and still I was taken through the process intimately.  If I were to label Plan B, I'd call it a well written character driven novel.  Score: (8/10)

Dialogue:  The majority of the story is told through character exchanges.  Much can be shown through what people are saying and Charnan Simon does it very well.  Sometimes the verbal exchanges are clipped a little short, but I'm guessing that's because of the reading level of the book. Score: (7/10)

Characterization:  Right from word one, I felt like I knew the main character Lucy.  Her quirky, obsessive-compulsions felt natural, never forced.  Her friends had unique names that matched their personalities.  They best part: Charnan Simon shows a lot of diversity in every character while avoiding stereotypes.  I felt like I knew each person intimately.  And when we shared in Luke's turmoil, it felt very real.  Score: (8/10)

Resolution:  The climax of Plan B was smooth and predictable.  But then, it should be, based on the premise of which it was designed.  There was just enough tension to keep it interesting, just enough detail and plenty of fast paced change to keep the story moving.  The emotional power of Lucy's situation was never overshadowed.  The complexity of her decisions were central and though provoking.  And, again, as I LOVE them, this ending was left wide open for the reader to keep thinking about long after the book has been put down.

Plan B by Charnon Simon is a charming, light read.  The topic is heavy, as it should be, but it's presented in a very readable way.  There's no over dramatization, but at the same time (and maybe more importantly) minimization does not occur.  This book is perfect for older tweens and some teens to read. And for the brave educators  and parents, looking for a way to broach an uncomfortable subject, Plan B is a viable tool.  If you're looking for a complex, drawn out novel, you won't find it in Plan B, but that's what makes it so charming, in it's own way. I'd rate this book 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it to mature 12-14 year olds. I'd also give it to some high schoolers who are seeking a realistic, but not complex read. 

No comments:

Post a Comment