It's no secret that I love Ellen Potter's Olivia Kidney books. So obviously, the happy dance was danced when Slob showed up in the mail.
I admit to being a teeny bit worried, because I love Olivia Kidney so very much that it was difficult to imagine anyone else being anywhere near as awesome. But I'm delighted to say that I've found a new literary love, and his name is Owen Birnbaum*.
Owen is 57 percent fatter than the average American twelve-year-old boy. He's also a good deal smarter than the average American twelve-year-old boy. Actually, he's a good deal smarter than the average American adult, but I don't have a concrete number for you because he promised his mother he wouldn't tell people his IQ score anymore.
Someone at school keeps stealing the Oreos from his lunchbag. And he's pretty sure that that someone is Mason Ragg, the terrifying transfer student who is rumored to carry a switchblade in his sock. In a moment of extreme bravery (and serious cookie withdrawal) Owen confronts him. It doesn't go well**:
I stood there for a moment feeling especially fat. I mean, I always feel fat, but sometimes I feel like a boulder. A huge fat boulder that people write curse words on or pee on. And I just stand there, letting it happen, because I'm a boulder and that's what boulders do.
Boulders also turn around and walk away from people who terrify them, which is also exactly what I did.
While that method doesn't stop the cookie thief, Owen's got a few more tricks up his sleeve -- because, you see, he's an inventor. And so, between dealing with the missing Oreos, spending time with his Buddhist momo-making*** neighbor, scavenging at demolition sites and trying to stay out of his sadistic gym teacher's way, Owen works on what will be his greatest invention: Nemesis, a television that can be used to see into the past.
I'm not going to say a whole lot other than that I loved it. In some hands, a sadistic gym teacher would feel clichéd, but in Ellen Potter's, it felt classic. I loved that Owen spun his story out slowly -- that there were little hints here and there about what was coming and what had come before, but that he didn't spew it all out at minute one. I loved that his story surprised me -- there were certain things that I guessed from the start, sure, but there were quite a few that I didn't. And I loved Jeremy. But I'll let you get to know her on your own. Two thumbs way, way up.
*His sister Jeremy ranks right up there as well!
**This quote comes from a review copy, so of course it's possible that it might read differently in the finished product.
***Just thinking about them is making me hungry.