Tuesday, June 11, 2013

INDIE BOOK REVIEW: Grade A Stupid is top shelf fun

Not every book has to be a masterpiece.

Not every story has to be an opus.

Sometimes, fun is simply fun.

That’s the premise behind ‘Grade A Stupid’ by A.J. Lape.

The central heroine is Darcy Walker, a 15-year-old that is wise beyond her years – and yet still manages to struggle in school. Most everyone around her realizes that Darcy is actually too smart for her own good – and she’s actually bored. Darcy, though, has self-esteem issues and just chalks it up to being slow.

Darcy’s father, who she is on a first name basis with, seems to encourage his daughter and be frustrated by her at the same time. Murphy sees Darcy for what she is – but that doesn’t stop her from driving him to distraction.

Darcy’s school life is plagued by bully girls, no self-awareness, and a circle of friends that is mainly made up of guys.

You see, Darcy is beautiful and hot – but she doesn’t seem to realize it. Everyone else in the school does, and that’s one of my main problems with the book.

While I love the story and I love Darcy as a heroine, I don’t think it’s necessary for every single male in the book to stumble over themselves because she’s just so wonderful. It doesn’t ring true.

My other quibble with the story – and it’s the one thing that kept me from giving this book a perfect score – is the dialogue between Darcy and her best friend Dylan.

You see, Darcy and Dylan have best friends forever. Dylan is the hottest guy in school and every girl wants him – which means practically every girl hates Darcy and wants to take Dylan from her.

On the flip side, every guy in school likes Darcy and that makes Dylan jealous which causes him to lash out like he’s a wife-beater in training.

You see the problem? When  you compound that with the way the two talk to each other – constantly telling each other that they love each other in a corny way – you stumble across the only real flaw in the story.

I get that this is written for teenage girls and they like to romanticize things – but the dialogue between Darcy and Dylan isn’t even remotely believable. Neither is the way the interact with one another.

I know a lot of teenage girls wish boys would fall over them like the boys in this book do over Darcy – but that’s pretty much science fiction.

As an author, Lape paints delightful characters that are easy to relate to. All she needs to do is tone down the corny dialogue.

There are a few grammar issues -- but they're relatively minor.

The mystery at the center of the book is actually quite solid. As a reader, you have to suspend disbelief that Darcy manages to learn the things she does and get involved in the scenarios she does.

This is young adult fiction. You have to just let certain things go. I wouldn’t have loved movies like ‘The Goonies’ and ‘Gleaming the Cube’ as a kid if I wasn’t able to suspend my disbelief. That’s what you have to do with ‘Grade A Stupid.’

I think the true mark of a good book – especially if it’s in a series – is if you want to read the sequel right away. Just FYI, I finished ‘Grade A Stupid’ at 2 a.m. last night and immediately downloaded and started reading the sequel.

This is definitely worth the read if you like to laugh and  you don’t mind stories that aren’t grounded in too much reality – which is just the way I like my fiction.

‘Grade A Stupid’ is available for .99 on Kindle and $9.13 in paperback.


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