Middle school students have reading interests that run the gamut from Diary of a Wimpy Kid to Twilight. Sometimes as a parent it is hard to know what is age appropriate for your child. Through this blog, I will try to help parents make informed decisions about what is available in our library. I am hoping that this blog will be a resource for our parents, and that we can all work together to make our students life-long readers!

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Compulsion (Heirs of Watson Island, #1)

Martina Boone
From the publisher:
"Three plantations. Two wishes. One ancient curse.

All her life, Barrie Watson has been a virtual prisoner in the house where she lives with her shut-in mother. When her mother dies, Barrie promises to put some mileage on her stiletto heels. But she finds a new kind of prison at her aunt’s South Carolina plantation instead--a prison guarded by an ancient spirit who long ago cursed one of the three founding families of Watson Island and gave the others magical gifts that became compulsions.

Stuck with the ghosts of a generations-old feud and hunted by forces she cannot see, Barrie must find a way to break free of the family legacy. With the help of sun-kissed Eight Beaufort, who knows what Barrie wants before she knows herself, the last Watson heir starts to unravel her family's twisted secrets. What she finds is dangerous: a love she never expected, a river that turns to fire at midnight, a gorgeous cousin who isn’t what she seems, and very real enemies who want both Eight and Barrie dead."

I'm not sure why authors have a need to come up with unusual names for their characters. This is one of just several I have read recently where the main character's name is very strange. A girl named Lombard and called Barrie? Really? It was totally distracting to me, and never really explained beyond the fact that she came from San Francisco and was named after the curved street. And the male character's name is Eight. Hmmmmmm.
I was also disappointed by the stereotypical southern-ness going on. I'm pretty sure this author has never lived in the South before, because I didn't ever FEEL the South in her writing. This may have been the fault of the book I read right before this, which was Southern Gothic done right. Several times while reading Beware the Wild  I could almost hear the cicadas and katydids singing in the swamp, and feel the heat and humidity. So this book, with Aunt Pru's annoying habit of saying "sugar" every time she opened her mouth, got old pretty quickly. However, I did like Compulsion , I was just annoyed at a few things. The plot was interesting and the characters likeable, even though a couple of times I was a little confused by the families/relatives and who was who. I really liked Barrie and Eight (in spite of their names), and the character of Mark, although we never meet him in person - just through phone conversations, is so clearly drawn that I can completely picture him. The end was exciting and came to a conclusion (for the most part), which I appreciated.

Areas of concern:
Quite a bit of cussing, but definitely not an every page sort of thing.  No *f* word.
Some pretty intense kissing.
The character of Mark is a transgender cross-dresser.

Several murders occur or are mentioned in the course of the book, and the main characters are put in a couple of very scary situations. 

Suggested Ages:
Publisher's Weekly - Ages 12+
School Library Journal - Grades 9+

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