13 on Halloween by Laura A.H. Elliot
Published: September 20th, 2011
184 pages (paperback)
Genre: Middle grade/YA fantasy
Acquired this book: From the author in exchange for an honest review
Warning: may include spoilers
Synopsis: Twelve-year-old Roxie wants to be like Adrianne, the peacock, who gets everything she wants––a trampoline, a flock to prowl around the mall with, and most especially invitations to parties, despite the fact that Adrianne tarantulas and hamsters and cats and owls her way to get it all. But everything changes when Roxie invites all the peacocks in the eighth grade to her birthday party on Halloween and they all come. And a boy, the boy, actually talks to Roxie. She has the best night of her life until the peacocks decide they want to celebrate her birthday in a way she never expects––in her attic, with a pact to swear to never tell a living soul what happens there. Roxie gets everything she’s always wanted, except her old life back.
I don’t normally read middle-grade books, but when Laura sent me a request asking if I’d be interested in this book, as well as her YA book, Winnemucca, I said yes because it sounded like an interesting concept.
This book is hilarious. Roxie is definitely an interesting character. Like a lot of 12- and 13-year-olds, she’s worried about friends, boys, and popularity. In ‘Roxie Speak’, she’s a dodo, but she wants to be a peacock. She and her best friend Ally are unpopular, but Roxie invites all the popular kids – the peacocks – to her 13th birthday party, hoping to become popular. What she doesn’t bargain for is that the group of peacocks will use her to help them astral project to Planet Popular, an alternate universe where nothing is the same.
Intrigued by the prospect of transforming from a dodo to a peacock, Roxie returns on her own, despite the group’s warnings, but she learns that life as a peacock isn’t all she thought it would be. It’s not really any easier being popular than it is being invisible.
Roxie’s kind of all over the place – things are always reminding her of past occurrences, which she draws on to illustrate points for what she’s thinking/talking about. I’m not used to that in books, but then I realized ‘well, that’s probably how a lot of 13-year-olds think’. It was really amusing though, and often had me chuckling out loud or shaking my head.
My only issues with this book were the ‘Roxie Speak’, which I found distracting until I learned the lingo, because I felt like I was constantly flipping to the beginning to check for the ‘translation’. Overall, I think it worked, because it ties in so well with the book and the analogies work well, it’s just a bit confusing at first. Also, as an editor myself, I found a lot of errors that were kind of distracting, but that a regular reader probably wouldn’t pick up on.
I would definitely recommend this book if you’re interested in middle-grade or really young adult fiction, or if you have tween/young teen kids. It’s a fun, funny, totally out-there fantasy, but with a real story and a moral to that story.