Review: Perry’s Killer Playlist by Joe Schreiber

perrys killer playlist

Perry’s Killer Playlist by Joe Schreiber

This second book in the Perry & Gobi series continues Perry’s story.  After surviving a wild night with Gobi, an assassin who disguised herself as a foreign exchange student, Perry’s band is doing very well and is now touring Europe.  He is dating a new girl, an older girl, who is sophisticated and completely out of his league.  But when the band travels to Venice, Perry can’t help but visit Harry’s Bar, the place the Gobi said she would meet him someday.  Gobi does show up, but once again she brings trouble with her.  Perry is once again drawn into her world of narrow escapes, bullets, guns, murder, trust and betrayal. 

Schreiber excels at creating books that are superbly readable.  This sequel is only a couple of hundred pages long and reads so quickly, the pages blur.  The pace is breakneck and wild, it’s a book that sweeps you up and you just have to know what happens next to these two characters. The setting of Europe lends a new vitality to the book as well.  It’s a pleasure to romp through Europe with these two.

The focus is on the action in this book and less on the characters, but I was pleased to see that we got to know Perry and particularly Gobi better in this book.  While she continues to be a mysterious figure, we are also shown tantalizing glimpses of what her life must have been like.  Perry serves as her perfect foil, reacting humanly to all of their escapades while Gobi remains cool and calm.  It probably helps that she is the one with the gun most of the time.

For fans of the first book, they will not be disappointed with the continued mayhem and action of this sequel.  This is a great series to hand to reluctant readers who will appreciate the fast pace and short length.  Appropriate for ages 13-16.

Reviewed from ARC received from Houghton Mifflin Books for Children.

Review: Au Revoir, Crazy European Chick by Joe Schreiber

au revoir crazy european chick

Au Revoir, Crazy European Chick by Joe Schreiber

Released October 25, 2011.

Perry’s band has gotten their first big break, a gig in New York City.  Unfortunately, his parents are insisting that he take their foreign exchange student, Gobi, to prom that same night!  Perry thinks that if he manages to leave prom early, he can still make it to his gig on time.  Little does he know that his entire night is about to explode, literally.  Perry is caught up in an assassination attempt, taken hostage in his own father’s car, and forced to speed through the night in Manhattan.  This is one wild ride through a dark city that you won’t want to end!

Schreiber has written a book that reads like a movie.  The pace is fast even at the beginning of the book but becomes almost breakneck speed by the middle.  The ending is wild and blazing.  This book is not about character development, though there are moments of growth in Perry especially where he realizes the truth about his father and his own relationship with him.  In some respects it is a gun-filled story of a boy turning into a man in one amazing night.

This book comes in at 192 pages, which is sure to appeal to reluctant teen readers.  Add the appeal of guns, fast cars, explosions, assassins, and romance and you have a book that readers will race right through.

The movie rights to this book have already sold to Paramount, which makes perfect sense given a book that reads so much like it’s already on the screen.   Get this in the hands of reluctant readers who will enjoy the action and the humor of this thrilling read.  Appropriate for ages 14-17.

Reviewed from ARC received from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Children’s Book Group.

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Rush by Jonathan Friesen

The author of Jerk, California (winner of the Schneider Family Book Award) returns with another great read.  The only thing that will clear the clouds from Jake’s head is risking his life.  He jumps off of waterfalls, takes risky rides on his dirtbike, climbs the town watertower, and scales rock walls.  His father and older brother don’t understand what he does at all.  His father basically owns their town and his perfect brother is following in his footsteps as a firefighter, something that holds no appeal for Jake.  One thing with appeal is his best friend Salome, but he can never let it become anything more than just friends, because he hurts anything he gets close to and he can’t do that to her.  When Jake’s older brother loses his best friend and quits the firefighters, Jake is offered a place on a crew that rappels into wildfires.  It is a crew with a record of young firefighters dying.  Jake isn’t worried, this suits his thrill-seeking nature just fine, but Salome refuses to stand by and watch him die.   He now has to choose between his friend and the rush.

My short summary above just scratches the surface of this novel.  It is a novel of depression and trying anything to feel clarity and connection.  It is a novel of family, exploring the tension-filled relationship between brothers as well as fathers and sons.  It is a novel of love, of taking that final step and feeling a different kind of clarity and rush.  It is a novel of bravery, of honor, of betrayal.  It is a novel that reads at breakneck pace, yet never loses touch with the importance of character and setting.

Jake is a great character in the novel, exploring the reason why people take large risks.  He is a tormented soul, unable to form connections with those he loves, able only to bond with the thrills.  Yet at the same time, he has friends who love him, despite the ways he pushes them away.  The novel is beautifully written, exploring the danger and power of fire, which is used as a perfect metaphor for Jake and his own destructive nature. 

A novel that will appeal to a broad range of readers, from those who are thrill seekers themselves and want a great action-filled read to those who are interested in a well-drawn character facing incredible odds.  Appropriate for ages 15-18.

Reviewed from copy received from Speak.

Check out Jonathan Friesen’s website, his blog, and an interview about his inspiration for the book.