Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Review: Sweet Venom (Childs)

AUTHOR: Tera Lynn Childs
SERIES: Medusa Girls, book 1
PUBLISHER: Katherine Tegen Books
PUBLICATION DATE: September 6, 2011
ISBN: 9780062001818
PAGES: 345
SOURCE: my library, recommended to me by 6th grade girl
GENRE: fantasy/ Greek mythology
GIVE IT TO: MS girls
SUMMARY: Triplet girls separated at birth learn they are descendants of the mythological Gorgon Medusa charged with protecting mankind from mythology's most heinous creatures.

REVIEW: As a librarian, I get book recommendations from students and teachers all the time. I really do try to read at least some of them, especially if the recommendation comes from a student whose taste in books is similar to mine. A few weeks ago, a sweet sixth grade girl recommended Sweet Venom to me, saying she really, really loved it. A big Tera Lynn Childs fan, I'd been wanting to read SV for awhile anyway, and my girl's recommendation gave me the push I needed.

I really liked this one! I tend to enjoy mythology-influenced stories anyway, and Childs's Forgive My Fins was one of my favorite books on the 2011-2012 Lone Star Reading List. While for me, Sweet Venom lacked the charm of Forgive My Fins, I found it mostly well-paced with a gruesome cast of mythological monsters and a fun premise.

I liked the triplet characters of Gretchen, Grace, and Greer, but I do think the three girls' alternating voices were not distinctive enough. If I stopped reading mid-chapter, I would sometimes have to read a several paragraphs before I could tell which girl's story I was reading. Greer, Grace, and Gretchen are very different characters, and I wish their "voices" were more unique to them.

The book is well-paced for the most part, but the story really picks up once the third triplet, Greer, is introduced. Greer is hands-down my favorite character, and her inclusion adds an element of sibling-rivalry that I did not expect. Being the oldest in a sisterly trio myself, I enjoyed reading how the girls find each other and learn to get along.

I was a little disappointed in the male characters in the story--they are all pretty standard stock. Cute, popular, outgoing, yada yada. I am hoping they develop more fully in the sequel Sweet Shadows. I think the romance is a big part of what I loved about Forgive My Fins and missed in Sweet Venom. Romance is there, but it takes a back-seat to the sisters' story.

Overall, Sweet Venom is a fun read that will appeal to middle school girls big-time. Book talking it in my library will be a breeze (even without a good book trailer at this time), and I have decided to include it on my 2012-2013 Lone Star Plus list for my school. My ARC of Sweet Shadows (due out in September) taunts me at this very minute...

THE BOTTOM LINE: Romance takes a backseat in this cute story of three sisters battling mythological beasts. Perfect for middle school girls!

STATUS IN MY LIBRARY: We currently have two copies of Sweet Venom in my library, which I am going to add to next year's Lone Star Plus list for my school.

READALIKES: Oh. My. Gods. (Childs); any of the Rick Riordan mythology books; Forgive My Fins (Childs)

  • Overall: 3.5/5
  • Creativity: 4/5
  • Characters: 3/5
  • Engrossing: 3/5
  • Writing: 4/5
  • Appeal to teens: 5/5
  • Appropriate length to tell the story: 5/5

  • Language: none
  • Sexuality: very mild--one girl's boyfriend alludes to "staying overnight," but it does not happen and is not a big deal
  • Violence: mild-medium--some non-scary mythological monster attacks; the three sisters have retractable fangs
  • Drugs/Alcohol: very mild--a few references to one sister's previous foster parents, both violent drug/alcohol abusers

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