Google+ YA Romantics: Mini-Reviews: Ask Again Later and Don't Even Think About It

Monday, February 24, 2014

Mini-Reviews: Ask Again Later and Don't Even Think About It

Today's Mini-Reviews will compare and contrast two YA comic paranormal books scheduled to release on March 11:


Don't Even Think About It
by Sarah Mlynowski
To be published on March 11, 2014
by Random House

Synopsis (adapted from Goodreads:) We weren't always like this. We used to be average New York City high school sophomores. Until our homeroom went for flu shots. We were prepared for some side effects. Maybe a headache. Maybe a sore arm. We definitely didn't expect to get telepathic powers. But suddenly we could hear what everyone was thinking. Our friends. Our parents. Our crushes. We always know what's coming. Some of us will thrive. Some of us will crack. None of us will ever be the same. So stop obsessing about your ex. We're always listening.
AND


Ask Again Later
by Liz Czukas
To be published on March 11, 2014
by Harper Teen

Synopsis (adapted from Goodreads:) Despite what her name might suggest, Heart has zero interest in complicated romance. So when her brilliant plan to go to prom with a group of friends is disrupted by two surprise invites, Heart knows there's only one drama-free solution: flip a coin. Heads: The jock. He might spend all night staring at his ex or throw up in the limo, but how bad can her brother's best friend really be? Tails: The theater geek...with a secret. What could be better than a guy who shares all Heart's interests--even if he wants to share all his feelings? Heart's simple coin flip has somehow given her the chance to live out both dates. But where her prom night ends up might be the most surprising thing of all...

So first I must spend a second proclaiming my love for the comic paranormal category. When I was a kid, this was one of my favorite books ever:

Freaky Friday
Originally published in 1972 by Harper

This was the cover of my original book (which my mom has thrown away!) with drawings by Edward Gorey.  This book was so ahead of the trends -- the body swapping trope has been huge from the 1980s through the present in films like The Change Up, Big, or 13 Going on 30. It also provides a hilarious take on the parent-child relationship. And if you haven't seen the 2003 movie of Freaky Friday with Jamie Lee Curtis and Lindsay Lohan, it's a must-watch.

Neither Don't Even Think About It nor Ask Again Later involves body swapping. But they both do what Freaky Friday did so well: use paranormal elements to explore different aspects of the teen experience. Here's my take on each.



As the synopsis suggests, Don't Even Think About It follows a group of kids who get flu shots at school, and suddenly develop mind-reading capabilites. Being able to read minds would be cool, right? Well, not so much. Secrets are inadvertently spilled, loyalties strained, and ethics tested.

I liked the fact that Don't Even Think About It had an unusual narrative style, though I see on Goodreads that some readers took issue with it. The book is told in a sort of multiple first person, from a "we" POV instead of an "I." Yes, it took a little while to get used to, but I thought it was a creative risk that really paid off. I also really appreciated the fact that the paranormal stuff had an explanation. Every time I had a question about how the whole mind-reading thing worked, the book was right there to answer it. However, since there were a lot of characters, there wasn't as much time for character development, and the romance tended toward the high school drama sort.

Book Report Card for Don't Even Think About It

Paranormal Effects:
Narrative Style: A-
Character Development: B+
Plotting: A
Romance: B

Total GPA: 3.6


Ask Again Later is parallel universe lite. Heart La Cour planned to go to prom with a group of friends who've made a No Drama Prom-a (their phrase, not mine) pact. No dates, no drama. But before she knows it, Heart has been asked to prom by not one but two guys. What to do? Well, she doesn't really like either guy, so the answer is obvious. But Heart is sort of softhearted, so she can't say no to either one. When a third guy (he annoys her, she calls him Schroeder, but they are clearly crazy about each other) suggests she flip a coin to decide, she does. Well, she flips a Chuck E. Cheese token, and then is mysteriously able to see the outcome of each date.

After that, each chapter flips back and forth between heads and tails, giving updates on the status of each equally disastrous prom date, which include things like duct tape, a goody bag with condoms, kidnapping, and more. Though some of this was comical, I did get pretty impatient in the middle part of the book. Clearly Heart belonged with Schroeder, and I just wanted them to get together already. Her ability to see forward into the future was just sort of there. Was she imagining things? Was the C.E.C. token magical? I'm not really sure. But in the end, the romance I was waiting for came through.

Book Report Card for Ask Again Later

Paranormal Effects: B
Narrative Style: A
Character Development: A-
Plotting: B+
Romance: A

Total GPA: 3.6

I enjoyed both of these, and think that each is a welcome addition to the comic paranormal genre. If you're a scientific type who expects explanations for paranormal phenomena, you might be happier with Don't Even Think About It. If it's romance you're after, then I'd recommend Ask Again Later. If you love this genre, then why not read both?


28 comments:

  1. Nice post Jen! *throws confetti* I should get around to doing mini reviews soon! Freaky Friday the movie!! It's such a classic for anyone young or old and it's sad your mom threw away the book!

    Happy Reading
    Patrick @ The Bookshelves

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    1. I love mini-reviews! And I wish my mom had not thrown it away. She probably said, "Do you want any of your stuff still at home?" and I said, "nah." So be warned that if your mom asks you this, be sure you check out what she's throwing away!

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  2. I really loved the narrative style of Don't Even Think About It, but I expected more substance. Of course, I agree about the overabundance of characters and the high school drama that took over the drama of being able to read minds.

    I've never read Freaky Friday but I looooove the movie!

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    1. I loved that "we" POV too. It was freaky, but it worked.

      And I think that the 2003 Freaky Friday movie might be better than the book!

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  3. I'm really glad to see you enjoyed both of these. I have them both for review but haven't started either yet. Looks like I should pick them up soon. After Maybe One Day and Lady Thief I could really use a fun paranormal.

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    1. They're both quick, fun reads! Look forward to hearing what you think :)

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  4. Don't Even Think ABout IT sounds good. I don't think I would ever want to hear people's thought though.

    Ask Again Later sounds a little frustrating.

    Karen @ For What It's Worth

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    1. I'm with you -- hearing people's thoughts would be my worst nightmare...

      Yes, I wish AAL had spent a tiny bit more time on the RIGHT romance :)

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  5. I haven't heard of the first book! I have Ask Again Late which I do plan on reading. Nice reviews.

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  6. Oh, these sound ridiculously fun and quick...guess I'll have to make time for them after all. :)

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  7. Haha totally agree with you about Ask Again Later! While it was cute, the fact that Shroeder and Heart didn't admit their feelings for each other until the very last possible second made me so mad. Like come one people get it together! But it was definitely cute :) Fantastic review, Jen! <33

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  8. Great point about there being an explained reason for the mind reading, but I was one of the readers who couldn't deal well with the unusual perspective (we)

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    1. I understand -- I think I was in the minority on this one!

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  9. I've never actually read any books in this genre before, I'd definitely be up for trying them out! Thanks for sharing! :)

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  10. Ask Again Later and Don't Even Think About It both sound cute with a nice touch of paranormal. It's nice to change things up a bit with some comedy, and both these sound fun. I'm keeping my eye on Ask Again Later since I love romance in my story. Glad you enjoyed them both, Jen. Great mini reviews :)

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  11. This isn't my typical genre but I like hearing how they are and if there are any gems I should check out. I do love the Freaky Friday movie!

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  12. Great reviews! I'm glad to hear you enjoyed Ask Again Later, I have that book up to read very soon. They both sound like cute reads, and I'm really liking that there's lot of new books of contemporary with a touch paranormal (:

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  13. Clever review and I like that this isn't your run of the mill genre. It changes things up both in the tale and writing. I loved Freaky Friday and tales contemporaries like this with a paranormal twist.

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  14. I really want to read Ask Again Later! The cover sort of reminds me of John Green's covers! But I do like that bit of flung in magical/paranormal stuff. I hadn't heard of Don't Even Think About It...but it sounds good too! I'd probably prefer AAL, though. XD

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  15. I'm not convinced on the mind reading yet, because of the premise. I mean mind reading capabilities from flu shots? Anyway, I'm really interested in reading Ask Again Later soon, I have a thing for those alternate reality things. Thanks for your interesting reviews Jen!

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  16. I like this whole idea of Mini Reviews...I feel like it would make mylife a whole lot easier... i should start thinking about doing that LOL! I'm a bit intriguied by Ask Again Later.. it's seems interesting and i do love paranormal stuff! I'll have to look into it!
    Lily @ Lilysbookblog

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  17. Yeah, I like this idea too! I haven't heard of Ask Again Later before so thanks for sharing, Jen!

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  18. Oh gosh, Jen--I love this style of review! And I LOVE FREAKY FRIDAY SO MUCH. Not many people I know have read it, either, and they should! Your explanation of why these two books work in relation to FF makes perfect sense to me, and now I know I have to get my hands on these immediately. They sound super fun.

    Also, I'll be back to read your review with Lauren for Half Bad. I haven't gotten too far into it, but I think we (and my coblogger Kim) ended up with similar feelings.

    Wendy @ The Midnight Garden

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  19. I'm definitely planning to read both as I love this category too. I'm intrigued by the description of the narration as "we"-I hope that doesn't irk me. And I do wonder if Heart imagined both scenarios or what because I like to have an explanation for such phenomena (like Pivot Point offered up).

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  20. I'm pretty excited to see that Don't Even Think About it was a success, since I have it for review. It looks fun and even though the 'we' thing might be odd I'm looking forward to it! Great reviews, and I love the whole set up for them.

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