Monday, August 22, 2005

Last Shot

It's been an unusually long time between posts...mostly because I started two books that took me no where and I have been getting ready for a trip and a house guest. Once we were on the plane, I was able to get some solid reading time with a good book.

Last Shot: A Final Four Mystery by John Feinstein (Knopf, 2/05), is another case of an adult writer who has given children's writing a try, this time with much success. Last Shot is the story of two thirteen-year-olds who win a sports writing contest and get to attend the NCAA Final Four basketball tourament as student journalists. While enjoying great seats, schmoozing with coaches and ESPN personalities, and other perks, the kids come across a plot in which a player is being blackmailed in order to throw the championship game. This is a believable mystery written with style in a young person's voice. It was just suspenseful enough without some of the ridiculous scenerios some teenage sleuths face. I loved it!

Feinstein is a terrific writer. This novel would definitely appeal to both readers and reluctant readers alike, especially that elusive teenage audience. I would even say an adult audience could enjoy this one (but then that's what I usually think, being an adult who reads mostly children's lit). The two main characters are a boy and a girl, so it captures a little of both perspectives. There is wit, humor, not overly much basketball trivia, and a fast-moving plot. The book is supposed to be the first in a series and I am looking forward to seeing more of them. Though I am not a sports fan, I always enjoy Feinstein's commentary on NPR's Morning Edition and may look for some of his other non-fiction titles.

Grade: A

In case you were wondering, my non-starters were Mr. Muo's Travelling Couch by Dai Sijie (author of Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress) and Enna Burning by Shannon Hale. I don't know if it was a lack of patience on my part, but I wasn't willing to give Sijie more than an hour of my time. The premise sounded interesting, but the book was hard work so I dropped it. With Enna, I had read Goose Girl, its prequel, and loved it, but I just wasn't sympathetic enough with Enna's plight and didn't feel the story moving quickly enough for my taste. Hale's newest novel, Princess Academy, flew off my shelves, so I'm going to hunt that one down later this fall and give it a read. Again, this week may not have been the best for reading, so I'm not going to completely discount these novels, some others may really enjoy them; I may go back to Sijie again later.

Your Friendly Librarian

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