Only days later, he's lost his girlfriend in what can only be described as Classic Carter Fashion¹, and it looks like his summer is headed for the crapper².
But then, he gets cast in the independent film adaptation based on his Favorite Book In The Whole World -- opposite Hilary Idaho, teen sensation. And suddenly he isn't so sure that this summer will be so terrible after all.
Well, for the first few minutes after he gets the part, anyway. Shortly thereafter, of course, things start to go downhill. Fast. And somewhat uncontrollably.
I'd like to give points to whoever decided to put the warning label on the back of the book:
This book is intended for immature audiences. If you find teen guys annoying and/or disgusting, this may not be the book for you. There's gotta be something about a cute wizard or a moody vampire around here....Go find it!
Because while the warning is funny, it's TELLING THE TRUTH. The Carter books are most definitely NOT for the people who're all worked up about the profanity and sexual content in Sherman Alexie's Part-Time Indian.
As with the first book, Carter's world view and voice made me laugh out loud -- this time, from the first page:
On the last day of school, I'm happily strolling down the hall after Mr. Rumpford's ridiculously hard algebra final. He told me last week that if I failed it, I'd have to go to summer school . . . as if! I studied so hard last night, I thought my brain would fall out. But it didn't, and I aced that sucker with a D+! I waited around after the bell rang and watched as Rumpford graded the tests. Yes, I had better things to do, but my summer was hanging in the balance, so I kind of didn't. I knew I'd passed when he looked up. He gave me a nod and said, "Imagine if you'd applied yourself like this all year, Mr. Carter."
I laughed at his joke, returned the nod, and replied, "Yeah!" as I headed for the door.
So in that respect, Carter's Big Break was a successful sequel. It provided more of what I loved about Carter Finally Gets It, and it continued to show Carter's baby steps towards maturity.
In the first book, the Football Player Goes Theater Geek storyline was used, and while that trope certainly does suggest Generic Teen Movie, it didn't overpower the whole book. Due of the strength of Carter's voice and the day-in-the-life aspect of the majority of the storyline, it never threatened to turn the book into A Book With A Moral. In Carter's Big Break, the Nobody Kid Gets A Taste of Fame trope gets pulled out, and this time, it's center stage. So this time around, Carter is pretty continually mulling over the Lessons He's Learning about Fame Maybe Not Being So Great and Treating People Right and Doing The Right Thing and that Your Heroes Are Just People and so on.
Which got old. In addition, Carter's movie co-star is given the name Hilary Idaho, and so every time her name was mentioned, I got knocked out of the story -- if she'd actually been Hannah Montana or if she'd been called something that wasn't a cutesy-I'm-supposed-to-be-Miley-Cyrus-but-no-one-wants-a-lawsuit-here name, that would have helped create more verisimilitude. For me. The intended audience may well enjoy the "veiled" jabs at the "Wienus Bros." and the rest of that crew, but for me, they just reminded me that I was reading a novel, rather than a chronicle of Will Carter's summer³.
So, conclusion? Try it. And definitely give it to fans of the Carter Finally Gets It. Although I don't think this one had the strength or the magic of the first one, I still do love Will Carter and his relationship with his friends. I want to see how his sophomore year goes, so I'm already waiting for Book Three.
¹Read: A situation in which the reader wanted to hide her eyes because she knew what horrifically embarrassing event was about to occur. In which she said, aloud, to the book, "Carter. No. No no no no no. Please, don't say it. Dooooon't saaaaaay iiiiiit, just don't saaa--. Oh, hell. You dumbass."
²Hey, it's not my fault! Carter's mode of self-expression can be contagious.
³I mean, OBVIOUSLY I know it when I'm reading a novel. But if I get pulled into the world with the characters, it can feel real. It's a good bet that you know what I'm talking about, so I'm going to stop attempting to explain.
Book source: Review copy from the publisher.
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