Sunday, February 21, 2010

Book Review: The Peculiar Superpowers of Eleanor Armstrong by K.A. Schloegel

Title: The Peculiar Superpowers of Eleanor Armstrong

Author: K.A. Schloegel

Pages: 319

Received from: author


Teenage writer Eleanor Armstrong tells the story of her life as a collection of Facebook-esque entries interspersed with the chapters of the novel she is writing. She starts out writing a nice, quiet high school romance, depicting the love triangle between ultra-hip and smart Sarah – who is really just Eleanor with great hair, her geeky pal Marky – who is Eleanor’s pal in real life too, and popular jock Brandon – a character based on a boy who once spoke to Eleanor. But to her dismay, the novel turns to horror after zombies attack the school and kill Brandon. You know, just the usual “Boy meets girl. Boy turns into zombie. Zombie-boy loses girl. Zombie-boy gets girl.”


Write what you know, Eleanor’s teacher tells her. And what she knows is a high school teeming with bored kids who will prey upon each other, can be kind, cruel, fall in love, or anything in between just to relieve the tedium of their existence. In other words, a school full of zombies. So Eleanor goes with it. Zombie attacks abound, both in her novel and her real life as an overlooked teenager with peculiar superpowers.

In a world where your worth is judged by how many kids you send home crying everyday, Eleanor Armstrong is a nobody; along with her best friend, Marky aka "The Flinch", they make up the schools bottom feeders. But even though she can't even get her crush's attention for more then three seconds, Eleanor lives her dream life as down-to-earth pop girl in her novel, chronicling her own Mary Sue, Sarah's, romance with the not-so-thinly disguised Brandon. But as Eleanor becomes overwhelmed with the zombie-like behavior of her classmates, she suddenly decides to insert the undead into her romantic comedy, changing the course of Sarah's life forever...and maybe even Eleanor's.

I actually REALLY liked PSEA. It just had a silly, campy feel with wonderful satirical undertones. It's kind of a meta-novel, a story within a story, both of different genres but equally entertaining nonetheless. The voice that stood out for me wasn't Sarah's fight to stay alive in a zombie-invested world, but Eleanor's blog entries between chapters. This is a girl with a lot to say, and was sure as hell afraid to say it to anyone but her one-man audience, Marky (also featured in her story). Through these entries, she whines about her health-obsessed stepmom, her hardly-there goverment-agent father, her removed stepbrother, and the various injustices of high school life. She's an evergirl with a wry sense of humor that, normally, I would find beyond-annoying, but with Schloegal's debut effort it just works.

Through Eleanor's writings, we also get to know the other characters in her life, such as the long-suffering Marky. Dubbed "the Flinch" freshman year because of his last name, he is constantly bombarded with that stupid "twice for flinching". You know, someone bluffs socking you in the face so you--yeah--flinch away, then you get two knocks on the arm. Which is, like, really third grade. But I digress.

Eleanor paints Marky--both in her novel and blog entries--as a practically superhuman entity, standing straight and tall even as he gets the crap beaten out of him. I kind of loved Marky.

There are many a throwback to old cheeseball comedies, and cheesier zombie films with some pretty relevant social comentary under the surface. But don't let the undead fool you--fans of teen romance will gladly get their fill with PSEA.

Rating: 8 out of 10

Also: This song is so stuck in my head.


ParaJunkee said...

This book does look interesting. Just the way everything was put together. Same story different package. I like it. ♥ Parajunkee

Anonymous said...

Sounds interesting, and like a book I'd enjoy. Great review!

K. A. Schloegel said...

Hey Dannie, thanks for the review and for taking time to read my novel. I really do appreciate it. Glad you had fun with it.

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