KIND OF A BIG DEAL, by Shannon Hale, Roaring Brook Press; Illustrated edition, Aug. 25, 2020, Hardcover, $18.99 (young adult)
I’ve been a Shannon Hale fan for a long time. Her books are always among my recommendations when people ask. Her latest book, Kind of a Big Deal, is a contemporary YA novel with a magical twist.
There’s nothing worse than peaking in high school. Nobody knows that better than Josie Pie.
She was kind of a big deal ― she dropped out of high school to be a star! But the bigger you are, the harder you fall. And Josie fell. Hard. Ouch. Broadway dream: dead.
Meanwhile, her life keeps imploding. Best friend: distant. Boyfriend: busy. Mom: not playing with a full deck? Desperate to escape, Josie gets into reading.
Literally. She reads a book and suddenly she’s inside it. And with each book, she’s a different character: a post-apocalyptic heroine, the lead in a YA rom-com, a 17th century wench in a corset.
It’s alarming. But also . . . kind of amazing?
It’s the perfect way to live out her fantasies. Book after book, Josie the failed star finds a new way to shine. But the longer she stays in a story, the harder it becomes to escape.
Will Josie find a story so good that she just stays forever? —Synopsis provided by Roaring Brook Press
The beginning of Kind of a Big Deal is a little rocky. I spent the first couple of chapters sort of confused and a little ambivalent. It wasn’t until Josie actually finds herself inside a book that I was able to lose myself in the novel.
A lot of that early meh came with Josie. It seems like Josie’s supposed to come across as a sympathetic character, but she instead reads as self-absorbed. She took me straight back to the high school girls who sauntered down the halls as if they owned them. Thankfully, she becomes more interesting as the book moves forward.
The best parts of Kind of a Big Deal are the chapters where Josie is inside books. There, Hale is able to let her imagination go wild. Her world-building is spot on, and her action enticing.
Kind of a Big Deal is not my favorite Shannon Hale book, but it’s got merit. If you’re a diehard fan, you should buy it, otherwise check it out from the library first.
© 2020, Cracking the Cover. All rights reserved. Unless otherwise noted, all books — digital and physical — have been provided for free by publishers in exchange for honest and unbiased reviews. All thoughts and opinions are those of the reviewer.