Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Book Review: Neanderthal Opens the Door to the Universe


Pages: 400
Released: May 22, 2018
Publisher: Disney
Received: ARC from publisher
Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Goodreads

Ok, this may be dating myself, but when Dawson's Creek first came out there was all this buzz about how the characters all talked using this ridiculous vocabulary and convoluted, overly-pretentious sentences and sounded like pretty much no teenager ever. And it wasn't just the teenage characters, it was all the characters. They all spoke with one voice, and that voice was absurdly unrealistic.

And it was also kind of cool and part of Dawson's Creek's charm.

The same thing happens here. Every single character is an incredibly witty wordsmith and they all speak in exactly the same way. It's so far from realistic, but it's also a big part of why I started and continued reading. If the book hadn't been written in this style, I probably wouldn't have bothered reading it.

The second reason I enjoyed the book is the equally ridiculous 1990s teenage movie vibe where the characters have a mission and the whole school kumbayas in the end. There's even something called a Sermon Showdown. And the whole school gets in on it and it is drop-the-mic epic like when Kat reads her poem about the 10 reasons she hates Heath Ledger or when Laney Boggs walks down the stairs. Yeah. I'm simultaneously appalled and enthralled.

There were some pretty heavy topics like suicide and abusive relationships and drug use and, wow, yeah, now that I think about it this book is stuffed with a whole host of Very Special Episode topics. And it works about as well as it did when TGIF tried to smush together levity and Serious Issues. It works, and it also doesn't work at all. What did work for me were the very contrived but very aw-inducing friendships that were formed between the jock and the nerd and the jock, nerd, and curmudgeonly old man. See what I mean? Sooo predictable, trite, and ridiculous, but also, well, it works. 

I don't really know who this book is written for. It's filled with references and elements to totally resonate with someone who grew up in the 1990s (they even go to a video store), but does that work for actual teens now? I don't know.

Bottom line

If you're looking to fill that 90s teen rom-com void, then Neanderthal Opens the Door to the Universe is a good pick. It's super long, but short chapters, punchy writing, and the everything-but-the-kitchen-sink jammed in makes for a fast read. I enjoyed reading it, but I don't know that I'd reread it.






1 comment:

  1. I love the 90s references you made in your review, but I'm not sure if this book is for me. Sounds like the author had lots of nostalgia.

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