Thursday, March 31, 2011

YA Review of Lauren McLaughlin's CYCLER, by DL Larson

The cover caught my attention. The front has a young woman in a pretty pink bra and boy's boxers, while the back cover is a young man wearing said boxers. The two look as if they could be twins. They are not ... they are the same person. Four days of the month Jill turns into Jack, a full fledged male, with male thoughts, male actions and a male temper for being confined in Jill's girly bedroom with nothing to do but think about his own miserable life that only exists four days every month.

Cycler is a unique book and a fast read. Jack squeezes into Jill's thoughts but Jill self-hynotizes herself so she doesn't remember his thoughts. It's a dangerous game she plays and pretends her world is normal as any teenage girls. McLaughlin does a superb job creating her main characters Jill and Jack and she brings Jill's BFF, Ramie, in to make a tangled triangle of friendship and love. Jack loves Ramie while Jill doesn't realize he knows her BFF.

Wanting to be normal is a strong thread for all the characters in this book. Each character struggles with awkward situations, many darn right humorous and something all of us can relate to. Some graphic sex talk may raise a few eyebrows but it also comes across as natural just as the strong ties of friendship between Ramie and Jill.
Secondary characters seem a bit cardboardish. Jill's parents have a hint of creepy about them; the mom is overbearing and robotic while the dad is a limp noodle hiding out in his basement in inappropriate clothes for any generation. Perhaps her sequel will explain the weird parents.

For those who are looking for a diversion from vampire fever, I recommend Cycler. It's a good first book and could be an interesting topic for discussion at a teen book club. The sequel, (re)cylcler, came out in 2009 to great reviews, and Scored will be out in October 2011. I'll probably purchase both books since I enjoyed the first so much.

Til next time ~

DL Larson

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