|Shark Bait by Jenn Cooksey|
(Grab Your Pole #1)
June 15, 2012
Genre: Mature Young Adult
Contains mature language and sexual references
Previously homeschooled Camie Ramsey is being shoved into the shark-infested waters of public high school, where even helium filled, penguin bespeckled arm floaties likely won’t help keep her inexperienced, fifteen-year old head above water in that rip current of hormones and emotions.
Camie’s worldly wisdom might be severely lacking (i.e., the closest she’s come to being kissed was sitting too close to the TV whilst Jake Ryan leaned in to give Samantha that fateful 16th birthday kiss), but she does understand her only hope for survival is if she’s thrown some kind of “social” life preserver before she sinks like a freaking rock. However, what will her fate be when she endeavors to flag down the only lifeguard on duty, the enormously popular and ridiculously beautiful Tristan Daniels? The most sought after and virtually most unattainable guy in school who not only makes Camie’s heart flatline on a recurring basis, he’s also the one guy who seemingly doesn’t know she exists.
Feeling like an inept piece of chum that could ultimately be swallowed by Jaws, can Camie get Tristan to rescue her from floundering in the treacherous deep, or is she destined to be Shark Bait?
While the tales themselves are fictional, some of the events and characters are very loosely based in reality and on my experiences—but don’t worry, the names of the characters, most of their unfortunate fashion sense and/or questionable taste in music has been changed to protect the not-so innocent.
Due to language and some adult content, this book may not be suitable for readers under the age of 16.
I found this book difficult to rate due to my mixed feelings. I wanted to like it more than I did.
On the positive side, I enjoyed the author's sense of humor including her use of song, TV, and movie references. I could completely relate to Camie's ongoing inner soundtrack to whatever situation she was in. I do the same thing. I also liked how the author set her up as a normal person who was homeschooled, not some oddball, socially awkward person. Being very involved in the homeschool community myself, I appreciate the author avoiding ridiculous stereotypes. Additionally, I liked the friendships between the characters. Tristan and Jeff's friendship was super sweet, and I instantly liked Kate. I especially liked Camie's sister, Jilly, who was just the coolest 12-year-old. Plus, any scenes involving the kittens was perfect. I will also say that though I felt Camie went from 0 to 50 mph in her relationship pretty quickly (though not quite 60 mph), I appreciated the conflict resolution in the end and her terms (though she's still wishy-washy).
On the negative side, I felt like this book oftentimes was very "sex-centric." Not that the characters were having sex all the time. But there was a lot of referencing, and I found it distracting, when I really wanted more depth. Perhaps this is normal for a 15-year-old, but I had really been hoping for more out of these characters, and this budding romance in particular. While I enjoyed the chemistry between Camie and Tristan, I felt like I needed more bonding going on between them outside of their physical attraction and Buffy references. They have lots of potential, and since this is a series, I hope more depth will be explored between them. I also felt like the mystery around Tristan turned out to be not much for me. Again, I really wanted to get to know him more, from him and not from people talking about him.
Bottomline: This is a mature YA book, despite the MC being 15-years-old. There is great humor throughout the book, with interesting characters, and decent conflict resolution, but also a lack of depth at times, and a sexual focus to the book that I would keep away from younger YA readers.