Thursday, August 13, 2009

Getting the Girl

I just finished reading Getting the Girl by Susan Juby, which was an Edgar nominee this year. And I could see why this book got noticed: great YA voice, and a fun, interesting storyline.

The book follows Sherman Mack, dork boy with a thing for Dini, who is older than he is and obviously out of his league. Sherman figures out that Dini is about to be blackballed, or defiled, by Harewood Tech’s population. Joining this D-list is pretty much hell on earth (think unpopular at your high school, and multiply by a thousand), and Sherman doesn’t want this to happen to Dini. So he goes on a detective-type mission to find the defiler, and save Dini.

Like I said, this was a pretty good book. Although I had to stretch my imagination a bit to feel the threat of being D-listed like it was deadly, I enjoyed Sherman, the narration, and the fun (though sometimes stereotypical) depiction of high school life.

My biggest objection to this book was that the detective/mystery angle seemed like an afterthought (see my Monday post). I understand that I’m reading YA, but those books qualifying as Edgar nominees just don’t feel like mysteries to me. They’re YA first, and mystery faaaar second.

Don’t get me wrong. Getting the Girl is a good book, definitely worth reading. And my objections are not with this novel at all, really. I’m just a little saddened to find that so far, the Edgar nominees don’t feel like mysteries for teens. They feel more like YA’s with a dash of mystery tossed in.

Which is a shame. Because mysteries are cool, goddammit.


  1. Which books do you see as good mysteries for teens--this year or any year? My kids loved them at 12-13 before they moved on to adult books and yet they were often lacking something.

  2. For their strong mystery plots I like Gail Giles' "What Happened to Cass McBride?" and Nancy Werlin's "The Killer's Cousin" (off the top of my head). Louis Duncan and Caroline Cooney are also good YA mystery writers, but I don't like their writing quite as much (if I'm honest).

    I've read other writers, Edgar nominees etc., but most don't have a crime or strong mystery element in them. It's strange how there are so many mysteries for adults, but so few for teens. Which makes me think that mystery-loving teens just move to books written for adults.

    I'm wondering, with all these Twilight and Harry Potter readers, if this will change the commercial fiction landscape in 10 years or so.