Monday, April 15, 2013

MG Book Review: Alligators Overhead, by C. Lee McKenzie

General Information
Publisher: Outskirts Press, Inc.
Year of publication: 2012
# of chapters: 30
# of pages: (e-book)
Genre: Fantasy

Plot summary (from Goodreads):
Alligators, witches and a spooky mansion aren't your average neighbors . . . unless you live at the edge of the Ornofree swamp in the backwater town of Hadleyville. The town’s bad boy, Pete Riley, may only be twelve, but he’s up to his eyeballs in big trouble, and this time he isn’t the cause. This time the trouble arrives when a legendary hundred-year-old mansion materializes next door and the Ornofree alligators declare war to save their swamp from bulldozers. Things only get worse when Pete’s guardian aunt and several of her close friends vanish while trying to restore order using outdated witchcraft. Now Pete must find his aunt and stop the war. He might stand a chance if his one friend, Weasel, sticks with him, but even then, they may not have what it takes.

Positive Points
This book captures the essence of young boys. I love Pete's voice, and Weasel made me laugh out loud quite a few times. I could picture them well in my mind, as if they were real boys I knew when I went to school: Pete, the troublemaker trying hard to look and act innocent, and Weasel, the smart boy who doesn't want to get in trouble but who ends up always following Pete's ideas anyway.

The other characters are equally well-developed and unique. One of my favorites is hundred-year-old Miss Gladys in her motorized chair. Not the typical senior, let me tell you that!

Having alligators as characters is certainly unique and makes this book stand out from all the books about horses and puppies.

The author's writing skills are very strong. The POV is consistent, and the plot flows well. It was a pleasure to read this book.

Negative Points
There was one part I found confusing: the scene when they find themselves stuck to the ceiling as crackers. Crackers? I thought maybe it was an expression I wasn't familiar with, but my fourteen-year-old son was also confused. Throughout that whole scene, I wasn't quite sure what was happening. I had to read it twice, and I'm still not sure I get it. Other than that one part, the story had a good flow and was easy to understand.

I found several typos (about one or two per chapter), even though the book has been edited professionally. It happens, unfortunately, and I can't really blame the author for it. If the story hadn't been so interesting and well written, it might have bothered me to the point that I would have put the book down and read something else instead, but because the story hooked me right from the start and the author clearly has talent, I made an exception.

What makes this book unique
A mansion appearing in an empty field, witches blending in the community without anyone knowing of their special powers, alligators living in a swamp and helping the witches and the two boys in their mission, ... must I go on?

Overall Impression
Excellent read! My teenage son also enjoyed it.

My Rating:

Thinking of purchasing this book? I'll make it easy for you:


Anonymous said...

Definitely sounds unique! I'm not particularly interested in alligators, though.

cleemckenzie said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Natalie Aguirre said...

Awesome review. This is on my TBR list and you're making me really want to read it.

Anonymous said...

Loved this one, too!

cleemckenzie said...

I didn't mean to delete that comment. My head spinneth due to the AtoZ Challenge these days. What I'd posted was that the typos are no more. They be fixed. So sorry.

Unknown said...

I'm so pleased you read C.Lee's book. You're right, she's an amazingly strong writer. It sounds like her book's full of imaginative and quirky things. (I've got to find a copy!)

You were too fast for me with your blog comment. I was gonna wait for a bit more news before announcing in YA Club - and you already know! :-)

DMS said...

I read this one and loved it, too! Lee is such a great storyteller. I was fascinated with the storyline. Glad you and your son enjoyed it.

Emailman said...

Two legends on one post :) Lee, you're a legend for writing such great books, and Annie, you're a legend with your awesome MG reviews :) among other things *grin*

cleemckenzie said...

Thanks all. Appreciate the support from all of you great writers.

Anonymous said...

Sounds like a fresh story, with a fresh setting and mythology :)

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