Monday, August 17, 2009

School of Fear by Gitty Daneshvari + Contest!

Pub date - September 1, 2009

Everyone is afraid of something . . .

Madeleine Masterson is deathly afraid of bugs, especially spiders.

Theodore Bartholomew is petrified of dying.

Lulu Punchalower is scared of confined spaces.

Garrison Feldman is terrified of deep water.

With very few options left, the parents of these four twelve-year-olds send them to the highly elusive and ultra-exclusive School of Fear to help them overcome their phobias. But when their peculiar teacher, Mrs. Wellington, and her unconventional teaching methods turn out to be more frightening than even their fears, the foursome realize that this just may be the scariest summer of their lives.
(book back blurb)

This is a middle grade book so maybe I'm not to best person to be reviewing it since it's a little hard to get into the head of a kid that age, but I'll try. I might not "get it" but someone half my age might (ugh, remind me never to say that again).

I picked it up at BEA because the title was really catchy and I loved the quirky drawings. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Judging a book by it's cover. Unless you read the back of every book you look at, you do the same thing. Anyway, I didn't really have hopes one way or another for this one. I went in kind of impartial; nice blank slate.

I liked the language. Kind of a mock story-telling type of language. Uppity but in a Monty Python sort of way. And, of course, the characters were all quirky in their own ways and it was endearing. At first. Except for Theodore. I wanted to hit him with a bus right from the beginning.

Mrs. Wellington is over the top but I guess that's the point. All of the characters are pretty over the top and relatively exist only within the confines of their own little worlds. I don't quite want to say one dimensional but it's close. There is some reformation at the end. Sort of. And speaking of endings, I was kind of irked with that whole "teach these kids how to smile with Vaseline on their teeth" thing. It was inconclusive and overall pointless to the plot except to further define Mrs. Wellington's insanity. Insanity understood but it really did mean nothing to these kids getting over their fears.

But back to the quirky characters. Quirky characters can be entertaining but at the same time they can be really hard to maintain. And the kitsch in this book wore on me halfway through. I can only take so much quirk and ridiculous characterizations. All of the characters seemed to be caricatures of themselves, which was probably the point, but I thought it got annoying.

I saw the twist for what it was because no author is that dumb to do something like that in the middle of a book without a damn good reason for it. So, unfortunately, I saw right through it. And I don't think it'd be hard at all for kids that are actually in this age bracket to figure it out either. It's not rocket science and kids are suspicious to begin with. They'd have it in the bag.

I understand the driving force behind the plot line and literally forcing these kids to face their fears by removing the option of not having to but I felt it could have been toned down a little bit. It kind of reminded me of one of those shows on Nickelodeon (doesn't matter which one, they're all the same to me) that are decent for about 30 seconds and then just end up sounding like nails on a chalk board, they're so obnoxious.

Ok, this book isn't that bad but if you have a tendency of getting annoyed by, more often than not, over-the-top quirk, then this might not be the book for you.

Really, it's a cute book. I couldn't stand Theodore but really, the rest of the characters were pretty entertaining. Even Mrs. Wellington. But at the end of the day, I'll take a little less quirk, please. The best part of the book was the writing. I loved the humor in the tone but mixed in with the plot, it was just a touch overkill.


I have 2 ARCs of School of Fear to give away, plus each winner will get two School of Fear pins to go along with it! Sound good? Here's what you have to do--

Comment with your email and answer this question to enter--

What's your biggest fear?

No answer, no entry. Period.

+ 2 for following (new or old)
+ 2 for linking
+1 for each subsequent link, up to 3

Open to US residents only, this contest will end on September 7th at midnight, EST. Good luck!


Brooke Reviews said...

My biggest probably a tie of two things. Being alone in the dark, and riding on a motorcycle. lol


+2 I follow :)

Rachel said...

My biggest fear would be that I'll grow up and not be happy with my life. It just be a constant routine that ruins and depresses me. And, that I'll marry someone who I can't get along with and that doesn't love me and is only with me because we have kids.

Kate said...

Honestly, my biggest fear is death. Just the thought of not existing any more really scares me

+ 2 for following
+ 2 added to sidebar


barbrafl said...

My greatest fear is that the writing I have done so far, and the amount of time I've placed in to my writing, will go nowhere and I'll end up some washed up teacher with nothing else to do with her life.

+2 Follower
+2 linked on twitter (@barbrafl)

Thanks for the contest.

barbrafl737 (at) yahoo (dot) com

Carrie said...

Spiders and Plane Crashes. Not so much flying, but just crashing.

I'm really excited to read this book. Great contest!!

+2 follower


Jake Lsewhere said...

Looks like a good book, please enter me into this drawing.

My biggest fear is drowning.
+2 I'm also a follower via Blogger.

Thanks for hosting this giveaway.

Jake Lsewhere said...

I've also blogged about this giveaway here.


Anonymous said...

zenrei57 (at) hotmail (dot) com

This sounds goofy, but my biggest fear is anything painful - not like a splinter painful but like a car crash or surgery kinda thing. I'm not scared of death, but DYING slow or painfully would be awful. Maybe I'm just a wimp lol

Bianca said...

My biggest fear is probably not achieving my dreams!

+2 for following

infinitemusic19 at gmail dot com

Shooting Stars Mag said...

My biggest fear? I don't know...I hate heights, I'm scared of the future, I'm scared of spiders...just a lot of things mixed together. LOL

+2 i follow


lauren51990 at aol dot com

Misusedinnocence said...

Dying in a fire.

+2 I follow.

Shadowofwonder47 said...

This sounds like an awesome book! Please enter me.

My biggest fear is heights. I've gotten a better grip on it over the years but I'm still scared of them. For example once when i was eight I cried on the ferris wheel. Now that I'm older this dosn't scare me anymore (at least not very much). Though roller coasters are OUT of the question.

+1 I am a follower.


Wrighty said...

I loved to get this one for my nephews! We could read it together. My biggest fear growing up was sharks although I don't live anywhere near the ocean. Ha! Now my fear is for my kids. I would do anything to protect them.
+2 follow
+2 added to sidebar


Ashley said...

This sounds like a very different read. My fear is death and spiders.

+2 I follow.

+2 Posted on my sidebar at

Zia said...

Mountain drop offs. I hate going up the side of a mountain where the drop off is on my side. I have to turn sideways to avoid looking and my breathing doesn't settle until were away from it.

+2 new follower


Jo said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jo said...

Q: What's your biggest fear?

A: Failure.

+ 2 for following (new)


Book Sp(l)ot said...

my biggest fear with me is probably lack of accomplishment...

+2 for follwing


Jill of The O.W.L Blog said...

Biggest fear: Hands down - flying!!! Scares me to death.

+2 for following :)

Mary Ann DeBorde said...

Mary D
zenrei57 (at) hotmail (dot) com

And I follow :)

julie said...

My biggest fear is not knowing what comes after death.

Sarbear said...

My biggest fear is sharks!

+ 2 for following (new or old)

Please enter me: geekettesarbear(at)

kalynnick said...

SNAKE!..I'm so afraid of them.

kalynnick AT yahoo DOT com

Liz said...

Awesome Contest
+2 New Follower :P

MY biggest fear would have to be... Death.
I don't know what will happen to me once I die. It's really scary just thinking about it!


April said...

My biggest fear is dying. Seriously, it's so unknown. I mean, what if there really is hell and some red dude wielding a pointy stick. YIKES.

+2 I'm a follower!

Kelsey said...

My biggest fear is definitely dying. By accident or just of old age... it's just.. scary.


Paradox said...

What's your biggest fear? - Dying.

+ 2 for following (new or old)
+ 2 for linking:

paradoxrevealed (at) aim (dot) com

Alexa said...

My biggest fear is spiders

+ 2 follower
+ 2 link on sidebar:


Kaitlin M said...

I have phonophobia, which is the fear of loud sounds. That is my biggest fear. I even had to let all the balloons go because I was afraid I would cry if they popped.

Anonymous said...

MY NAME is MADELEINE MATERSON!!! I'm not afraid of spiders, thank you. Gnomes!!! ThEY are creepy!!!!

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