Scoop of the e-e-evening: Peeled

It’s not easy to give thumbs down when you’ve just met the author of a book, just listened to them speak for two hours, just laughed until your sides hurt and cried a little, too. But you’re not a real reviewer if all you do is bubble.

Hildy Biddle is a high school reporter eager to stand up for the truth. She’s just waiting for a chance to prove herself as a journalist, and yearning for a big story. The trouble is, the town’s biggest story stars … a ghost. Not a very easy interview! This ghost has the town in a tizzy, and the local paper is playing up people’s fears with shocking headlines of eerie happenings and ghostly sightings. Hildy’s determined to discover what’s really going on, but her desire to uncover the truth is making some people awfully nervous.

Well. The cover is a triumph. It’s amazing. It pops. Unfortunately, the inside doesn’t measure up. Bauer’s cast is extensive, and it’s difficult to flesh out such a large gathering of characters. Hildy’s family—Mom, Uncle Felix, cousin Elizabeth (ha ha), Nan—her school friends—Darrell, Lev, T.R., Tanisha, Zach—these people are rarely more than names. For a story to last in your mind, strong relationships are essential, and Peeled never quite delivers the required depth. A lot happens in a limited number of pages, and Bauer relies a bit too heavily on her trademark one-liners. A few are brilliant, but even brilliance is dimmed with overuse.

To be sure, there are plenty of fifth-grade girls who will enjoy reading Peeled. It’s not completely devoid of good points, whatever cranky reviewers may say. :) But if you’re choosing between “the new Joan Bauer” and a lovely reissue of Thwonk, Squashed, or Backwater, go for the paperbacks.


Ink Mage said...

Oh, that's really a shame. Joan Bauer's other books have been so good and this one just sounds OK.

Marie DeVries said...

Noel, your reviews help me a lot. They not only suggest good books to read (and some maybe to stay away from), but you also help another way. By not 'bubbling' all the time, and by reviewing the way the author writes you have helped me realize many ways NOT to write. Thank you.

Was this book good anyway? did it matter too much at the end that the characters were 'flat'?

Noel De Vries said...

Yes, Ink Image, that's the comparison, so good to just ok.

It did matter, Marie, because flat characters don't stay with you. If you're looking for a quick, light read, then I suppose you would enjoy "Peeled." But if you're going to sit down with a book for a few hours, why not make it worth your lasting while?