Category Archives: #YA

WatchdogWatchdog by Will McIntosh

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Watchdog, by Will McIntosh – A fun, action-packed, read!

Will McIntosh’s Watchdog is set in the slums of Chicago, where hungry children scramble over heaps of rotting garbage for something to pawn. It serves up an ugly near-futuristic view from the perspective of orphaned thirteen-year-old Vick, saddled too young with the responsibility for his autistic twin sister. Interest in the disorder is at an all-time high, and his struggle to keep Tara safe while dealing with the complexities of her autism was both entertaining and thought-provoking. Vick’s fierce, unforgiving anger toward the bullies who scared his crying sister rang true, as did his grudging acceptance when he discovered some assumptions were wrong.

The author gives us two unlikely heroes, fraternal twins both physically weak but with unseen strengths. Tara is small and looks half her age but is a genius with electronics. Her twin brother suffers from severe asthma attacks, but Vick is a natural leader with his own genius for survival. McIntosh pits their very existence against the mindless violence of underground robotic watchdogs, horrific mechanical creations being designed as specific weaponry by a crime lord.

Described as a nightmarish version of robotic animals, the watchdogs are only mechanical…until Tara finds a stolen military microchip. She modifies her own small robot pet, Daisy, who springs to life, literally, as a fully realized soldier capable of collecting and analyzing data, constructing and modifying her own mechanical body, and updates strategies based upon new intel. So far, she hasn’t spoken but as a reader I feel hopeful that ability will be forthcoming.

I enjoyed the book very much, but I rather reluctantly agree with another reviewer who remarked that the villain resembled a Disney cartoon. Mrs. Alba, a rather-neatly realized black-marketeer who rules with the expected fear, lies, and intimidation, is utterly dependable, showing up at the right time with the right tricks to make her a clear villain with no redeeming qualities.

However, Vick, Tara, and the crew they gather seeking to escape the clutches of Mrs. Alba’s evil henchlings, each enjoys human quirks and failings and the charming stumbles of young adults seeking to define themselves. Vick and his friends share the undeniable determination to right wrongs, to protect the vulnerable, and adherence to a code of ethics so essential to young people in their early teens.

All in all, my disappointment in a somewhat two-dimensional villain is thoroughly outweighed by my delight that all violence is contained between mechanical watchdogs. The battle scenes are skillfully drawn, action packed and very exciting, without becoming mired in gore. And, I must say, Mr. McIntosh’s refreshingly frank portrayal of adults as uncaring and threatening reminded me of Roald Dahl’s most fascinating works, where unlikely children must defend themselves and rise above the dark designs of adults to shine through as their authentic selves.

I give the book five stars, feeling free to recommend it to anyone who enjoys character-driven YA literature. I hope there will be a sequel or series following Vick, Tara, and their gang into this new dystopian future.

Genta Sebastian – award-winning author of Riding the Rainbow

View all my reviews

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THE BOXER SHORTS REBELLION

NEWEST RELEASE BY SHADOE PUBLISHING: The Boxer Shorts Rebellion
Release Date:  September 1, 2016
Available for Pre-Order now!
TRIGGER WARNINGS FOR: Bullying, Suicide, and Cutting

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Four students tangle as they struggle to understand who they are….

Nick’s parents think he’s just sensitive, teachers consider him a troublemaker, and bullies recognize him as a target. He knows, with a fresh start, he can re-invent himself.

Popular quarterback Brent, willing to do anything to keep his secret, exploits girlfriends to deflect any suspicion he might be gay.

Penny risks everything, even her heart, to befriend a boy she doesn’t know but does that make her a heroic savior, or a gullible fool?

Convinced she’s a hopeless loser, Angela is thrilled to be a popular jock’s girlfriend. So worried he will learn the truth about her, she ignores the truth about him.

Everyone stands by while the half-naked boy cowers, watching his green boxer shorts fly from the school flagpole. But there can be no innocent bystanders when his bully devolves into a psychotic killer.

The Boxer Shorts Rebellion is a no-holds-barred, unapologetic punch to the gut. It looks at bullying from not only the perspective of the bullied, but the bully, parents, teachers, administration, and so-called innocent bystanders. Bringing to mind the works of S.E. Hinton, and John Irving, critics are raving.

Consider reviewing it on Goodreads and/or Amazon.

 

 

Young Adults… Great Models for Moving Literature

 This is the beautiful face of my favorite young adult. She lives near me, visiting when she can. Smart, suspicious, silly, sensitive, and strong… and that’s just the S’s. Of course I love her, who wouldn’t? But I’m also, in the interest of full disclosure, her nana. My wife is her maternal grandmother.

But I’m not only impressed with who she is as a young adult, after all I’ve known the special person, “M”, since she was born, and she was a freakin’ awesome baby/toddler/big girl/pre-teen before. No, I’m also impressed by her group of friends, and so many like them around the world.

Young adults these days are rockin’. They embody many ideals, tempered with a world-weary acknowledgement of the commercialism of their learning environments. They know social media is self-serving, and have learned the hard way that many messages are commercials disguised as truth. Young adult these days, however, are savvy. They question, not just values, but power. They are demanding answers, and when those aren’t forthcoming they dive headlong into research.

World-wide, nearly instant research. The world is much smaller than it’s ever been before. With the proliferation of videos, kids are finding out that people are much more the same, than they are different.

Which is great, because the next older generation is getting that all wrong, accepting wide divides between people and being prodded into conflicts which settle nothing, but greatly stir dissatisfaction and inflame passions.

Personally – and remember you heard it here first, folks – I believe that a new ’60’s type revolution is on the brink of exploding. I think today’s young adults are watching the posturing and posing of their elders, and are about to do what another group of young adults, who have been neatly categorized and dismissively labeled as ‘hippies’, did fifty years ago.

Their music tells stories of rebels, and vigilantes. The depths of despair are appearing in their art work across genres, as are the heights offered by hope. They are demanding better educations, and holding their educators to ever rising standards. They are remembering what so many of their elders have forgotten:

Love Conquers All.

Yep, young adults these days totally rock. “M” and her friends – here’s to you! Go get ’em, kiddos.