****Disclaimer: I am writing this review based on an advance reading copy****
Book talk: Some people believe that when sharks attack humans it is because they mistake them for seals. This is not correct. Scientists now know that when sharks bite humans it's usually with only a fraction of their jaw strength. The sharks aren't attacking humans at all--they're investigating these strange creatures with test bites. Luckily for the students of West Valley High, Colin Fischer's investigative techniques are closer those of Sherlock Holmes. It will take all of Colin's observational skills and ingenuity to get to the bottom of this case. Someone has brought a gun to school and Colin knows that their main suspect is innocent. He's determined to find out who really did it--even if that means saving his bully.
Rocks my socks: I saw the duo that wrote this at ALA and it left me really excited to read it. I was not let down. Miller and Stentz are better known as screenwriters and co-wrote X-Men: First Class and Thor (which will certainly help me sell it to students). You can see the influence of this in the fast pacing of the novel and the dialogue. But the story is one that is clearly suited to novel form and Stentz and Miller took advantage of the more unique techniques this affords them, such as including what looks like pages torn from Colin's notebook and adding interesting and entertaining footnotes throughout (I'm such a sucker for footnotes!) The mystery is engaging, but what really kept me turning the pages was Colin. He has Asperger's syndrome so he's used to studying his peers and looking for clues just to read their emotions. Colin has pictures of Sherlock Holmes, Spock and Data from Star Trek, and Grissom from CSI above his bed (clearly he has excellent taste.) He tries to emulate these heroes and uses reason to discover the truth--even if it means clearing the name of his bully. On top of all that Stentz and Miller have a great sense of humor that left me cracking up throughout the novel.
Rocks in my socks: Due to the fast pacing of the story there were some aspects of the book that I would have liked to see explored further, although I can understand why they didn't want to slow down the narrative to do so. For example, I was disappointed that they didn't explore the Moriarty-like character more. I suppose this is actually in keeping with him being a Moriarty-like character, but it's so rare to see a teenage character who seems psychopathic in his lack of emotion and desire to create chaos that it felt odd to me that he was such a minor character. I wanted to hear more to see if he really is a psychopath or if there's more to his motivations. With the way the novel ended it appears that I may get my wish in future novels though.
Every book its reader: I'd recommend this to people who enjoyed The London Eye Mystery or The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime. I think this is a great novel to get people who don't usually read for fun reading too though so I'd also recommend it to fans of Miller and Stentz's other work and to people who share Colin's interest in Star Trek, Sherlock, or CSI. Of course those looking for a mystery set in a high school will also enjoy this novel. Even though the mystery revolves around a gun being brought to school no one is actually shot so there's not that much violence beyond the bullying Colin experiences. I'd say it's fine for students as young as 5th grade and up.
Colin Fischer has his own Facebook page
Source: Advance reading copy from #ALA12
Colin Fischer by Ashley Edward Miller & Zack Stentz
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