Friday, January 7, 2011

Extreme Makeover


Extreme Makeover is, yes, another YA sci-fi by Henry Melton.

This one came out back in 2008 and features Deena Brooke, an overweight senior high school student with a painfully overprotective single mother. Without any real friends (it's kind of hard when her Mom wants her to focus primarily on homework and is leery about new kids), Deena is rather lonely, but faces her situation with frank reality and a smart, if underachieving, head on her shoulders.

But when during a school run a sudden, violent storm breaks out and one of the huge redwood trees in her small California town of Crescent City falls on her - she survives. It's probably the most remarkable thing to ever happen to nearly invisible Deena, since everybody is shocked (and relieved) that she is relatively fine after the event.

Of course Deena knows how much pain she is (silently) in, but she's fine enough in her estimation. Yet when she wakes up - she has healed surprisingly fast. And out of nowhere she has a hankering for exercise, a fever that doesn't make her sick, and an urge to return to the scene of the accident - something she doesn't understand, since she has no idea why she wishes to do such a thing. Nor why she is suddenly addicted to rubbing pennies against her skin.

Could it possibly be... aliens? Could she possible be part of a grander plan? And how come handsome fellow senior Luther Jennings is interested in her (at least scientifically, even if she'd like to imagine more) now that has these strange new "quirks"?

Okay you addicted, obsessive readers, have you picked up a Henry Melton book yet? 'Cause if you haven't you really need to check him out, ya hear? I'd suggest, perhaps, Pixie Dust, Golden Girl, or Follow that Mouse as your first foray into his world of sci-fi (click on the titles to read my reviews), but once you enter it - well, ya start to love it more and more.

Extreme Makeover brings us yet another example of Henry Melton's ability to make teens seems realistic and approachable, now giving us Deena who is overweight, which is an issue a lot of us gals deal with. And he doesn't sugarcoat it, nor make Deena completely disaffected by it (now suffocated by insecurity). Plus, the issue of her overbearing, paranoid mother is quite a, well, issue. Lol.

The point is, it doesn't take long at all to like her - and once, er, something begins to control her - it's creepy. Luther has secrets that are slowly revealed that make him intriguing as well, especially since a lot of what he is hiding come in to play heavily later on in the novel.

I did, early on in Extreme Makeover, feel there was a bit of a lack in pacing and real hook, but I was prepared to be patient. Meanwhile, I certainly was not bored! I was just... waiting. But as more and more changes begin to happen to poor Deena, the stronger the sci-fi vibe. And the changes are not only puzzling and mysterious, they are also truly scary and kind of fascinating.

Extreme Makeover is an interesting story that grows more compelling as the pages turn. Melton's talent for mixing grounded characters with out-of-this-world plots takes an extra step this time around and includes a criminal element. The finished product is full of twists, surprises, and shocks galore, in which tables are turned and questions are answered. Though at times I felt it was convoluted and muddled, it had its romantic side and, despite not being perhaps my favorite Henry Melton book, Extreme Makeover is a good, solid YA sci-fi.

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