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Book Review: SHOTGUN GRAVY by Chuck Wendig

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Like a blast of pellet in the face, SHOTGUN GRAVY explodes right from the get go and you want to follow around Atlanta Burns as if she’s the Bonnie to your Clyde. This book is a 4-star thriller on my virtual shelf.

This novella has been out for a long time (since 2011, to be exact), and I’ve read it twice now – my first foray into the ebook world. So, I blame that for making me take so dang long (my slow reading pace aside), as my reading time normally involves a hard-copy book. I’m not a luddite, I just prefer it the old-fashioned way. Regardless, once I did read SHOTGUN GRAVY, I sped through it; turning pages faster than Ms. Burns shotgun of justice.

There’s something darkly satisfying in this story – your inner dorky teen exalts the protagonist for doing the things you sometimes wish you could have done when you were a teen. If you’ve somehow forgotten your teen years, read this so you understand that it’s hard to tell a teenager “It Gets Better” when they are in the midst of a bad bully culture. If you’re the parent of a teen, reading this may well help you understand well why your kid is so frustrated with the hierarchy of high school culture and the ignorant parents that allow it to endure.

Don’t be scared that SHOTGUN GRAVY is all doom and gloom, though. Wendig has a great way with words (if you don’t follow his blog TerribleMinds this might be news to you), so there’s humor and a true-to-reality glimmer of hope. I would say that teachers of teens, parents of teens, as well as every teen and adult around should read this book.

Without giving it away, the ending leaves you not only wanting more, but knowing that blasting back at bullies is just as hard as taking it. You decide if Atlanta and her cohorts pick the right path. Regardless, this is a YA as YA books should be – dealing with real issues and not sugar-coating it or downplaying just how bad it can be to be an outcast in the realm of teenage-hood.

As I said, the ending leaves you wanting more. Not to leave you dissatisfied, Wendig followed up with Bait Dog, a full-length novel for the return of Atlanta Burns. I’m warming up my Nook now. He made reading on the e-reader enjoyable, so I’m betting Wendig’s Burns in Bait Dog will do it again. You would be wise to do the same.


Reviewer’s Note:  I don’t write a review unless I’ve read the book at least twice. I may give some stars to a once-read book, but an in-depth review means I’ve read it at least twice.

I use the system of 1 to 5 stars. Here’s how that plays out in my scale:

Five Stars: this is a work that will grace my bibliophile shelves, for which I will likely read other books by the author, and for which I’ll read again, and will likely become part of my “comfort reads.” These are books that have wrecked, changed, inspired, or otherwise rewarded me doubly for spending time with them.

Four Stars:  means I’ll likely read it again, as well as recommend it to others.

Three Stars: is a book I’d recommend people read.

Two Stars: means that I found pleasure in reading it to the end, but I likely wouldn’t recommend it to someone else – and I likely list what that reason is.

One Star: are typically books I can’t finish. But, they get one star because every reader is an individual. What I can’t finish, you may love. Also, the author put the story out there and that is brave and incredible and I give them props for that. Typically I will denote why I believe I can’t finish the story.

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