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Thursday, August 22, 2013

David Wood Doesn't Suck

With apologies in advance to my more genteel followers, friends and family, this book review uses the phrase you suck and the word suck frequently. This word/phrase was discouraged in our house as the boys were growing up, along with stupid and other derogatory terms. So even though our boys are now grown men, believe me when I tell you, I wouldn't typically use these terms in regular speech, much less a public blog. Don't shoot me, I'm only the book reviewer, and You Suck happens to be the title of another good novel written by David Wood.

Frankly, I don't recall how I came by my Kindle copy of You Suck. I can't remember if Mr. Wood provided me a review copy, if he put it on sale, or if I just bought the darn thing. I only bring it up to emphasize that there is no grease that will affect my review of any book. If you want an honest-to-goodness review of your book, and I can stand reading it, I'll put it out there.

You Suck is the first entry in what Mr. Wood calls the Dunn Kelly Mystery series. I'll preface everything else with this: I am weary of vampires, zombies, werewolves, and all manner of supernatural creatures in popular culture. The only reason I even read this book is because of the esteem in which I hold Mr. Wood as a writer. That, and I read his previous young adult supernatural novel, The Zombie Driven Life (What in the Apocalypse am I Here For?), and enjoyed it thoroughly.

It takes a lot to get me interested in the over-worked genre that has taken flight since that "T" series was published and made into film. If you're a young adult or just a body who loves vampires, zombies - and from what I hear Dunn Kelly #2 will feature werewolves - then feel free to skip the rest of this review and click on over to Amazon using one of the handy links above and get busy buying and reading.

For the rest of you, I'll continue.

You Suck opens by introducing us to Delilah Idaho, one of the most beautiful, self-absorbed and wildly popular teen idols you can imagine. But Delilah has a problem (other than being self-absorbed): she's found a wrinkle. Now to you and me that may not be cause for concern, but to this seventeen year old reality star, pop singer, and all-around heart throb it's practically the end of the world. But quicker than you can say, "Botox!" dear-old-dad comes to the rescue with an idea that I just know would happen if all these supernatural critters were actually real, like they are in You Suck. Daddy, better known as Buddy Jay Johnson to his old football and action (B) movie fans, placates his young daughter and gets her to buy into his latest scheme: a new reality show that will pair Delilah and a cast of vampires, with the winner getting to bite the fair maiden on her eighteenth birthday - on national television - allowing Delilah Idaho to be young, vibrant, and eighteen forever!

Remember Dunn Kelly? Remember that You Suck is the first in a series of mysteries? That's right; things don't quite go according to plan with Buddy Jay and Delilah's reality show. In fact, things go off-script enough to cause the police to be summoned, along with their Special Populations Officer, Martin Kelly. Problem is, Detective Kelly has hit a bit of a rough patch and his son Dunn has to run interference for him. Dunn is a high school senior and, through his dad, no stranger to police work. Before you can say, "I want to suck your blood!" Dunn Kelly is on the case, dodging vampires, crazed crew members, and Chief of Police Stanley Lescrote, who is out for Martin's blood - the old fashioned way.

You Suck is engaging from the start. Wood plops us right into the lives of his characters who are three-dimensional and wholly developed. His protagonist is beset with all sorts of standard teenage angst and issues, from uncomfortable relationships, too many responsibilities, bullies, lack of sleep and many others that really added to the believability of You Suck. It would have been easy for Mr. Wood to just gloss over these real life issues that plague most high school students in one way or another but his exploration of them, expertly woven into You Suck's multiple plot lines, is the glue that holds everything together and makes the story so readable.

There were a few typos here and there but not enough to distract me. If you're an English teacher, you might be miffed but as I've followed Mr. Wood's progression as an author, his editorial skills have improved immensely.

The pacing of the plot, the character introduction and development, and the cohesion of the overall story make You Suck and enjoyable read. The denouement is believable and surprising - as it should be. And, of course, Wood hooks us at the very end with a teaser about the next installment of what could turn out to be a very popular mystery series; not as popular as Delilah Idaho, but that would suck anyway.


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