Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Sophomore Undercover. A review

Sophomore Undercover

Ben Esch

I decided to take time out of my Yukon fur trapping endeavours and snow shovelling to sit down with a doughnut and write a review of Mr. Esch’s book.

Sophomore Undercover is an absolute riot. When a book is this full of funny, an author runs the risk of substituting humour for plot. Not so in this case. Giving us such free access to the inner thoughts of Dixie Nguyen (pronounced Win), lets us get to know him in ways that saves us from pages of narrative explanation. The plot is all at once suspense filled, hormone driven and full of investigatory challenges. It’s geared toward a teenage audience, but honestly, I loved reading it. I felt like I knew Dixie for all of his hormone infested geekiness. I rooted for him all through the book, whether his head was stuck in the toilet, or he was sleeping under a bridge.

Dixie is a Korean teenager living in Stilton, California, who has been adopted by a police sergeant and his family. The police sergeant is actually his second adoptive father. “His first adoptive father had been a figurative “bleeding heart” Berkeley professor, who became a literal bleeding heart Berkeley professor after a car crash”.

Dixie is the lead reporter of the school newspaper. “As the most intelligent, dedicated, and only enrolled student in the class, he quickly became the lead reporter.” The plot of the book surrounds Dixie’s investigation of a drug scandal that he feels has infested the school football team. This leads him into conflict with Ms. Trasker, the menopausal journalism teacher, into legal charges for assault and drug possession, and drug rehab with Huggy Bear (aka Mr. Steinberg), the former math teacher turned school counsellor.

It also leads him into a pseudo romantic relationship with the girl of his dreams, whom he meets during his meditation sessions with Huggy Bear. She’s a former cheerleader, who’s turned goth. “Brynn laughed and tossed back the hair out of her face. She really did have beautiful eyes. It was a shame they didn’t get out more often.”

I literally laughed out loud at one thing or another on every single page. Seriously. And yet, like I said, that did not get in the way of moving the plot forward. This book is raunchy, skilfully written, bouncing with humour, and a blast to read. And it's nothing like Twilight.

oh, and check out his blog, it's as hilarious as he is. He wears lovely sweaters and cultivates an awesome beard.

so, Suck on That.


Kelly Polark said...

Well written review of Mr. Esch's masterpiece. As you know, I'm a fan of his literary hilarity as well!

BJW said...

Thank you I will go suck on that as soon as I can.

Got me sold. You're a good reviewer. And funny.

So you got that going for you.

Monica said...

Kelly. thanks. I don't know anyone, who isnt a fan of Mr. Esch. Well, except those who don't know him. But they would be fans, if only they would accept his eschniess into their lives.

BJW. Thanks. You'll enjoy the book. I take funny very seriously.