Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Birthday Trilogy by Brian Rowe

I was sent this book, along with its sequel, Happy Birthday to Me, Again by the author Brian Rowe with a request to review the sequel.  I felt like I couldn’t review a sequel without reading the first book in the series, so I read both books and I chose to review both of them. Please note, the review for the second book may contain some spoilers for the first book.

Title:  Happy Birthday to Me (Birthday Trilogy)     
Author:  Brian Rowe
Genre:  Young Adult
Format/Pages:  Kindle
Release Date:  April 7 2011

Cameron Martin’s life couldn’t be anymore perfect. He’s popular, dating the hottest girl in school and he’s the star of his high school basketball team. Too bad it is going to end soon, much sooner than he ever thought possible. Inexplicably, Cameron is aging an entire year with each passing day and there doesn’t seem to be anything that can stop it.  Cameron just wants everything to go back to the way it was; he wants to go to prom, graduation and help his team win the state championship. But there doesn’t seem to be anything anyone can do to help him, not even Reno’s best doctors.  When a mysterious young lady captures Cameron’s heart, he finds himself having to trust the one person who may have caused his problem.

I really liked the idea behind this story—it had a great concept and I liked the originality of the plot. It was well organized and obviously well-thought out. Brian Rowe is a very talented writer, quite adept at creating a world and convincing you the events in that world are really happening. He definitely puts a great deal of time and effort into writing a worthwhile novel. 

That being said, I did have some issues with this book.  I felt like too much time passed before we as readers were given the reason behind Cameron’s mysterious aging illness. I was approximately 80% done with the book on my Kindle before there was any type of explanation given (though I had figured it out prior to this). Consequently, this made the ending feel quite rushed. It was as if Rowe knew he needed to wrap things up and he sped up the plotline to do just that.  There was also a severe over-use of the word “shout” in all of its verb forms (shout, shouting, shouted). This in combination with capital letters EVERYTIME SOMEONE WAS UPSET made me feel like I was being screamed at through the whole book.  I also took issue to the constant references to vomiting. Every time Cameron was upset about something disturbing he was experiencing in the aging process or other unpleasant experiences, he vomited or nearly vomited or thought about vomiting. And it was always vividly described. I felt nauseous from the constant references to being sick. I feel this was really overused. 

This book is labeled as young adult, but I would label it older young adult. I feel that it would best be read by high school students, perhaps sophomore year and up.  There are far too many references to sex and male body parts to consider recommending it to younger teens.

My grade for Happy Birthday to Me: 

Title:  Happy Birthday to Me, Again (Birthday Trilogy)     
Author:  Brian Rowe
Genre:  Young Adult
Format/Pages:  Kindle
Release Date:  September 2011

Cameron Martin thought his luck had finally changed. He was going to marry his beloved girlfriend Liesel and hopefully live happily ever after. But when Cameron gets cold feet and tries to cancel the wedding, Liesel lashes out at him with another life-altering curse. Except this time, Cameron is aging backwards—one year every day. Even worse, Liesel has disappeared and Cameron can’t do anything but sit back, watch himself shrink into nothing and hope Liesel shows up in time to save him, again.

This book follows the same story line as the original, albeit with a twist. This time, Cameron is getting younger. The same characters appear as in the original, though this time they are a bit more likable. We as readers are introduced to a couple of new characters and fortunately, we get to know Kimber, Cameron’s sister, a bit better in this book. I really enjoyed this, as she was probably my favorite character from both books—she was definitely the most likeable. Rowe utilizes the same techniques as in the first book—great concept, original story, as well as a well-organized and well-thought-out plot.

Unfortunately, the flaws I pointed out in the first book are present in this book as well.  Shout was still the most overused verb in the book, capital letters to indicate a loud volume or being upset were still there and vomiting took center stage in nearly every chapter. For instance, I don’t think it is necessary to have Kimber shout “Yes. Twice” at her mother when calmly asked if the dog pooped while on a walk.  Every time I turned a page, the capital letters jumped out at me, to the point that I started to unconsciously keep track of how often they appeared in the book (I lost count). And again, vomiting was discussed so frequently that you could pretty much count on it appearing at least once per chapter.  I sometimes felt as if I was reading a book written by a male teenager, rather than written from the viewpoint of a male teenager. And believe me, there is a difference.   

I do think this book could be read by older junior high school students and up, as there was less discussion of sex and male body parts this time around.

My grade for Happy Birthday to Me, Again:

1 comment:

  1. The books sound interesting and I was curious of the titles. I didn't pay much attention to them the first time, until I came by here and read your thoughts about it. Hmm, still don't know if I'll be picking up a copy. It reminded me of "The Curios Case of Benjamin Button" due to the aging thing but I guess that's only where the similarities end. I wonder what the third book title would be.


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