Saturday, August 04, 2007

54. "Zoology" - Ben Dolnick

This book makes me want to sit my writer-friends and have them explain the difference between young adult novels and books that are about young adults. Simply, what makes it a young adult novel? The lack of sexual language or action?

If that's the case, then Zoology should be considered young adult fiction, but with a little sticker on the cover that says "May Contain Sexual Language, Innuendo, or Imagery." (My kids love reading those warnings on DVDs, but pronounce it "in-oon-do" and give it a proper "ooooo.").

Henry Elinsky drops out of college with a whine and a sniffle. He stays in NYC with his brother (uber successful... you can see this coming, right?) and his brother's girlfriend. Henry gets a job at the Children's Zoo and makes friends with a goat. No, the sexual parts don't begin there, you filthy-minded readers.

Henry just wants to be loved, but the object of his affections does not return that emotion. It seems that no one loves him, no one wants him, he may as well eat worms.

And that's the end.

This has been compared to the "modern day Holden Caulfield," which I find insulting. Dolnick, a young author, has written about what he knows. Sometimes, as I've told students, that's not the best idea.

If not for the unique language choices, this would be a total wash.

1.5 out of 5.0 Kicks in the Nuts.

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