To leave a comment, click on the header. You have to be "in" the post for the comments to appear. THANKS!

Friday, January 28, 2011

Advance Review: The Fourth Stall

I was fortunate enough to score an ARC of Chris Rylander's debut MG novel, The Fourth Stall, from HarperTeen and (Thank you both!)  Here's the skinny:

Author: Chris Rylander
Ages: 9-12
Publisher: Walden Pond Press (a division of Harper Collins)
Release Date: February 8, 2011
Pages: 320

Do you need something? Mac can get it for you. It's what he does—he and his best friend and business manager, Vince. Their methods might sometimes run afoul of the law, or at least the school code of conduct, but if you have a problem, if no one else can help, and if you can pay him, Mac is on your side. His office is located in the East Wing boys' bathroom, fourth stall from the high window. And business is booming.

Or at least it was, until one particular Monday. It starts with a third grader in need of protection. And before this ordeal is over, it's going to involve a legendary high school crime boss named Staples, an intramural gambling ring, a graffiti ninja, the nine most dangerous bullies in school, and the first Chicago Cubs World Series game in almost seventy years. And that's just the beginning. Mac and Vince soon realize that the trouble with solving everyone else's problems is that there's no one left to solve yours.

So, if you know me, you know I don't normally read anything other than YA paranormal. So you're probably asking, why a MG novel about a sixth-grade Godfather?  Well, it's simple really.  When I received this ARC, it came to me along with 3 other ARCs.  I sat down and read the first page from each one.  This is the one that jumped up and screamed: Keep Reading!

I thoroughly enjoyed the book for a number of reasons.

1.  Humor - Chris is hysterical.  Check out his website or his upcoming interview on Oasis for YA (1/31/11) if you don't believe me.  I don't know if the "target audience" will even get all the jokes, but I enjoyed humor that didn't rely on being "potty humor."  Here's one example, Mac has a petty cash box (I mean, what biz doesn't.)  He heard it called that on a show once, but he thought petty cash was too boring, so he calls it his Tom Petty cash after some old singer.  

2.  Cast of Characters - Mac and his best friend Vince are a great pair.  They are memorable, three dimensional characters who each act in ways we can understand.  Plus, they are surrounded by this amazing group of bullies, who sport names like Great White and Kitten.  And on top of that, the characters break out traditional molds.  I don't want to give away any spoilers, but one example: the janitor is cool instead of a total doofus.  

3.  The Plot was Fast Paced and Engaging.  I was constantly worried about Mac and how he was going to get out of his latest predicament.  There were plenty of twists, and I'm sort of ashamed of myself to say I didn't see the final kicker at the end coming.  Apparently, I'm not smarter than a fifth grader.
All in all, I give The Fourth Stall 4 out of 4 Greeks coins - an OMG! rating.  I think the publisher describes it as Diary of a Wimpy Kids meets The Sopranos.  What's not to love about that? Be sure to check it out when it releases on February 8th!  AND stop by the Oasis on Monday for a special surprise!