Publisher: Simon and Schuster
Reading Level: 13 and up
Enjoyment Level: High
It's not always easy to find good teen books for Christmas, but as I was browsing Target yesterday, my eye caught the lovely green and candy cane cover of Ex-mas, by Kate Brian. As I was in the Cmas spirit, I thought I'd take a shot and went through my usual book-selecting routine. Needless to say, this one ended up in my shopping cart. And since I just got it yesterday and I'm blogging it today, that should tell you something about what I thought about the book before I even get into the review...
Some of you may recognize Kate Brian's name from the Private series. While I've never read any of those, I do often think that I probably should, since they are quite popular at the moment. I might have to seriously consider it after reading Ex-mas, too.
The novel follows a girl, Lila, who is so devastated that a certain party is canceled, that she takes it out on the tattle-tale who ruined it all: her 8-year-old brother, Cooper. Being vindictive, she makes him believe that Santa is in danger due to Global Warming and, being eight, Cooper decides it's his job to save Santa. He takes off and Lila has to follow him to try and bring him back before their parents find out. But, never fear. Lila isn't alone. Her mad-at-the-world ex-boyfriend joins her, since his brother has accompanied Cooper on his all-important mission.
Although there are several points in the story where it's easy to see that the author wrangled the plot to fit a plan, the writing, overall, is smooth and it captures the attitude and personality of a modern teenage girl. The dialogue flows well and most of it feels very natural for the story and the characters.
Lila has just the right amount of angst mixed with the desire to be popular. She got a lot further in her popularity goal than I ever did, but I identified with her desire to have the social life that only comes to the very lucky or hard-working kids in high school. I enjoyed following her on her journey and her ultimate understanding of her place and her life. The hot guy in the book didn't hurt, either. ;P
The ending was a bit rushed for me (but those of you who've followed the blog or podcast should know by now that *most* endings are rushed to me) and I would've liked to see more of Lila's thought process as she came to the conclusions she needed to come to. However, I really like the fact that her development followed a nice, logical progression without being completely predictable.
I usually like my Cmas books to have a strong holiday theme. Even though Ex-mas is light on the theme, it still gave my own holiday spirit a push. The good thing about this one, is that it's still an enjoyable read even if you don't celebrate Christmas.
This is the perfect book for anyone who wants a little romance, a little adventure, and a little Christmas all at once. The only really bad part is that I finished it all in one night!
So Merry Christmas, because I've got a case of the anti-bah-humbugs. Go read something merry to yourself or to a child and enjoy the season!