About the Book
Jill McTeague is your average smart senior trying to get her dream date to ask her to the prom. Of course, those monthly blood transfusions aren’t exactly average – but it’s not like she’s got anything fatal.
What no one knows, except for Jill’s parents – who live in constant fear of the secret getting out – is that for the four days Jill is out of school each month, she’s not having blood transfusions. In fact, she’s not even Jill on those days. For four days of every monthly cycle, Jill becomes Jack, a boy – complete with all the parts – and Jack has to live out his days as a prisoner in Jill’s bedroom. But Jack’s personality has been gaining strength over the years since the cycling began. He is growing more rebellious and less content with his confinement, while at the same time his cycles are becoming more frequent.
Now Jill’s question about the prom isn’t simply who she will go with, but who will she be when the big night arrives?
Book Title: Cycler Genre: Young Adult Fiction Author: Lauren McLaughlin Type: Hardcover 256 pages Publisher: Random House Kids Publication Date: August 2008
Normally I would just blabber randomly about the book and how I felt about it. But Care over at Care’s Online Book Club recently reviewed a book using a format that I really dug – so I have borrowed her outline to use here. Thanks Care :)
MOTIVATION FOR READING: I had read about Cycler on Westerblog.com the blog home of Scott Westerfeld (author of Uglies, Pretties, Peeps and assorted other cool YA books) and I thought it sounded like a really different idea for a teen book. And Scott Westerfeld did provide this blurb for the book: “Artfully fractured and wickedly smart. A brilliant screwball comedy about love, self knowledge, and the secret identities inside all of us.”
WHAT IT’s ABOUT: If you read the top part of this post I provided the synopsis from the book jacket. A quick plot outline – Jack and Jill are two very separate personalities that share one body. Jill goes through monthly 4 day cycles where she stops being Jill and becomes Jack – with all the proper equipment and everything. Up until now Jack and Jill have maintained a good schedule and agree to some basic rules, but now their monthly cycles are becoming a bit erratic and they are both experiencing some emotional and psychological problems.
WHAT’s GOOD: The idea behind the story was stellar. Unique, quirky and thought-provoking. Physical transformations in YA novels is pretty common what with all the vamp, were and other mythological type stories around – but the idea of a transformation being both physical and mental was something new to me. Another great thing is that although Jack and Jill are technically the same person, their personalities are completely and authentically individual. The way the book was narrated in turns was also a wonderful method of separating the two. It gave the reader a chance to see the situation from each perspective.
WHAT’s NOT so GOOD: The language and the dialogue. This is probably the only book I’ve ever read that I cannot recommend if only because of the annoying over-use of slang. Cycler was a terrific story that (for me) was ruined by the choice of language used. It wasn’t even vulgar, it was just the repetitive and varied usage of the words “mal” and “deeply” – at first I thought it was just me being picky, but I had to laugh when I looked for other reviews to link to here and Becky of Becky’s Book Reviews actually listed the abundance of over-used words. It also kinda bugged me that the word “mal” is one that I don’t hear too often in teen-speak – again maybe that’s just me, but I do have 2 teenagers and I’m usually surrounded by their tribes of slang speaking friends.
FINAL THOUGHTs: Definitely a good idea for a book, great character development, horribly, deeply mal* writing/dialogue. However much it bugged me though, I will read the upcoming sequel Re-Cycler because this idea is just too cool to not give it another shot. And maybe knowing about the slang style beforehand will make it less obvious.
*Keep in mind here that I have no idea what exactly mal means, I can only assume it’s not good.
About The Author
Lauren McLaughlin grew up in a small town in Massachusetts called Wenham, about twenty miles north of Boston. After college and a short stint in graduate school, she spent ten “unglamorous” years in the film industry, both writing and producing, before abandoning her screen ambitions to write fiction full-time.
She lives in Brooklyn, New York, with her photographer husband and is currently at work on the sequel to Cycler.
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