Title: Charm & Strange
Author: Stephanie Kuehn
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
Pub Date: 06/11/13
Top 25: Yes
Convince us to read the book: The strongest elements in this book were the author’s style and her expertly crafted character development. The entire book is really an exploration of the main character’s mind, and the various layers and aspects of him are fully fleshed out and opened up in a way that is believable and very compelling. The side characters are also fully developed and have back stories, past relationships and tendencies that affect the story. Kuehn’s style lured me into the first chapter and made me stop often to reread passages and appreciate the spot-on descriptions and intense dialogue.
Memorable or Forgettable: The only thing that I would critique in this book was the ending. After so much build up and various revelations and twists, I was expecting a longer, more powerful climax that wound down as fully as it wound up. Instead, the story calmed and settled quite suddenly, leaving me unsatisfied and questioning the main character’s changes.
Cover: I picked up this book because I immediately wondered what it had to do with charm and strange quarks. The cover is very generic. I like the way the title is written on the moonlit clouds, but the people look like your typical teeny-bopper models and not so much like how I imagined the characters. In my opinion it would be more fitting to not have any people on the cover, just leaving the clouds and the moon to their mysteries.
Age Range: 14 through 18 and up
Quality: 4Q Better than most
Popularity: 4P Broad general teen appeal
Annotation: Charm & Strange is a disturbing and angst-wrought psychological thriller carefully told with beautiful, poetic prose. It’s intense from the very beginning and tells the story in chapters that alternate between the main character’s traumatic past and how he tries to come to terms with it in the present. I stayed up way too late to finish the book.
tags: psychological thriller / ya lit