Thursday, June 30, 2011

Book Review: A Scary Scene in a Scary Movie by Matt Blackstone

SUMMARY: Rene, an obsessive-compulsive fourteen year old, smells his hands and wears a Batman cape when he’s nervous. If he picks up a face-down coin, moves a muscle when the time adds up to thirteen (7:42 is bad luck because 7 + 4 + 2 = 13), or washes his body parts in the wrong order, Rene or someone close to him will break a bone, contract a deadly virus, and/or die a slow and painful death like someone in a scary scene in scary movie. Rene’s new and only friend tutors him in the art of playing it cool, but that’s not as easy as Gio makes it sound.


The Short Version:
Exhausting yet real, A Scary Scene in a Scary Movie throws the reader straight into a boy's OCD mind without hesitation. Highly distinct in voice, but a little too narrated with not quite enough action and dialogue to break things up, the OCD focus of this one has a unique way of building not only Rene has a character but the world as he sees it and experiences it. Though falling into a lull at times, the overall plot has a steady pace that centers on a few specific aspects that are well tied together.

The Extended Version:
Rene is that kid who is a little off, but not in a way that anyone can specifically pinpoint. Having no friends, a home life that isn't the best, and a very hard time truly relating to people, Rene has plenty against him yet his desire to overcome that is strong and admirable from the start. His mind is a truly exhausting place, repetitive in regards to not only some actions but phrases as well, and it adds both a sympathetic note to him as well as understanding to what he truly goes through. His overall character development has a good progression, not just in regards to the OCD but his social skills as well, making this a coming of age type novel hidden within something bigger.

Gio is the friend he does make, a cracker jack himself that has his own unique way of seeing the world but also carries himself in a way that exudes his confidence. Quirky in a way nearly as extreme as Rene, but friendly with most everything, Gio plays a large role in the story without overshadowing or sidestepping Rene. Even the forming friendship between these two added a great element to the book

The plot overall has a pretty steady pace, slowing in only a few places. Though centered very much on Rene and his circuitous thoughts, especially in the first chunk of the book, it is well worth it to barrel through the heavy narration to keep with the depth of the book. Mixing in normal teen problems with Rene's OCD, and even his lower maturity that is intimately tied into the disorder, Blackstone has definitely made a boy book that will hit with a female readership as well.

The writing is solid and absolutely spectacular in voice. Rambling and often falling off on tangents, yet not letting them last too long to completely confuse or lose the reader, Blackstone has built not only Rene's mindset and personality but the nature of OCD in a realistic and fantastic way. Rene is blunt and honest in that way which is almost humorous, saying the things that you want to say or even just blatantly missing something that someone is really saying. This is all pitched in a very smooth way, letting the reader see both the external reactions and Rene's inner thoughts and responses to things. Full of life, laughs, and emotion, the writing carries this book strongly.

Overall, this one is well worth the read. Though hefty in concept, this one is humorous more than anything while still getting its points and messages across. Casting light on not only the way people with OCD live, but driving the point home that not every case is the same, A Scary Scene in a Scary Movie is a good debut that is worth the read. 

Source: ARC received from author/publisher in exchange for an honest review 
Reading level: Young Adult 
Hardcover: 256 pages 
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)
Publication Date: July 5, 2011

1 comment:

  1. Tried so hard to score an ARC of this one at ALA! I'm on a list for it, but it'll be ages before I get it, so I'll just buy it when it comes out. Looking forward to reading it. Great review, Kari!