Now for my review:
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I knew when I read the blurb that I wanted to read this book in spite of a huge TBR pile; it spoke to my inner geek. Mixing science with magic made me “curioser and curioser,” yet the cover would have drawn me in if the idea hadn’t. Poor Suzy Quinofski, put in the (spoiler) room post (spoiler event) to explain fellow genius Billy Bobble’s magic wand (not a spoiler). The whole sequence of disastrous events comes out in a way to build sympathy for the two best friends, bully victims of multiple groups of older teens in high school. When the cops wonder if Billy intentionally (spoiler event), strange things happen, and that’s all I’m telling about the plot except that it gets interesting fast.
As for characterization, I was happy that Suzy had supportive parents, a rarity in kid lit these days. Too bad Billy didn’t have a dad. But at least his schizophrenic Mom and trouble-prone older brother improved later in the story, so there’s hope. I liked the witty dialog even though I think some of it will go over tweens’ heads.
Thanks to good characterization and storytelling, I had no trouble picking up where I left off. When I found time to read again almost a month later, I got right back into the story. That’s remarkable for me. Part of the reason is well-described scenes, the kind that made a movie in my head, and another is imaginative world building. I loved that other world and its characters. It helped that the author didn’t introduce too many at once for my short-term memory to hold.
The book wasn’t perfect. As an editor, I found the worst distractions were comma splices and point of view changes within the same scene. Kids won’t notice either. However, tweens/teens won’t identify with the adult points of view. The science stuff may be an obstacle for some kids, but I think most who pick up the book in the first place will either skip over it or accept it. By the end of the book, they’ll want more story.
I’m glad the story wraps up – I dislike cliffhanger endings with too many loose ends. It’s nice that when one story arc completes, another dangerous puzzle starts the next. Overall, I give 4 stars to Billy Bobbie Makes A Magic Wand for adults and 4.5 for tweens. No content warnings except that the average 9-year-old and younger won’t get it unless someone older explains. Those like me (who hid under the bed to read Lord of the Rings at age 9) and older teens should enjoy this series a lot. Science and magic make an explosive mix I’d like to shake me up again. I was provided a free copy in exchange for an honest review.