Author: Martyn Bedford
Genre: YA Science Fiction
Publication Date: April 5, 2011
Format: Hardcover, 272 Pages
ISBN-10: 0385739907 (Random House Kids)
ISBN-13: 978-0385739900 (Random House Kids)
Reviewed by: Jessie
What does it mean to have a soul whose will to live knows no limits?
One morning fourteen-year-old Alex wakes up to find himself in the wrong bedroom, in an unfamiliar house, in a different part of the country. Six months have disappeared overnight. The family at the breakfast table are total strangers.
And when he looks in the mirror, another boy’s face stares back. A boy named Flip. Alex may be trapped forever inside a body that belongs to someone else.
Quick & Dirty: A somewhat interesting premise of soul-switching makes for what might be a good read for a pre-teen audience, but the shallow plot and boring characters leaves this book lacking for an older audience.
Opening Sentence: Alex couldn’t have said what woke him that morning.
Flip only managed to be almost enjoyable, for me at least. There is a little more expectation perhaps with a really interesting premise, and I would like to say that was the only reason I came up disappointed, but there were several problematic elements in this book for me. The most obvious place to begin would be to mention that the pace was really slow. For what should have been a quick, interesting read, the plot just really dragged; there wasn’t enough to keep the pages turning. Flip might be intriguing for a younger pre-teen audience, but that in itself is sticky because of quite a bit of underage drinking being glorified throughout the book.
As far as character development, Alex wasn’t quite believable for me. As a fourteen-year-old boy, you would assume he would most likely be ecstatic to be given a chance to live the life of the handsome, popular Flip, at least at first. Instead, he avoids Flip’s hot girlfriends and can’t stop thinking about his mom. When he does decide to enjoy his new life for one day, there hasn’t been enough leading up to that point to make that day emotionally rewarding for the reader. Then he goes back and decides that he doesn’t care if he completely messes up his life as Flip because it’s not his life anyways. I would expect him to make deeper discoveries about himself and about Flip, but instead he just feels picked on. The fact that his soul is supposedly determined enough to survive that it is one of the very few souls that experience this sort of thing makes us assume that Alex would have some type of intriguing quality that would show up in the book, but he seems quite normal, boring even.
We have an especially fascinating turn of events with the introduction of another soul-switcher, Rob, and all these really intense moments that seem to be building up to something completely unexpected, but all we end up with is Alex as Flip punching something or knocking something over or fighting with his parents. Alex, as a typical teenage boy, still views himself as indestructible and ends up treating Rob like another authority figure, essentially ignoring all of the advice Rob gives him. Alex also tries to warm up to Flip’s sister and manages to befriend her somewhat out of guilt about how he used to treat his younger brother, but he is still disrespectful to Flip’s parents, which doesn’t make sense, given his regrets with his own family that he left behind.
Another almost in this book is Alex as Flip’s relationship with Chaeri. This was probably the biggest disappointment in the book, because it could be so much more. There is so much hinted at with her but we never really find out who she is or why exactly Alex is attracted to her. At most we learn that she is someone Flip would never be attracted to, but perhaps only because his friends don’t approve. Of course, we never learn enough about her to know. This seemed like a perfect opportunity for some type of romance action, or perhaps some deeper questions answered, but that’s not the case. In fact, this book asks a lot more questions than it answers. Meant to be thought-provoking, that’s a great idea, but since the book doesn’t follow through with any believability aspect, we just end up with a large but final “almost”.
“You think I should’ve made an appointment?”
Alex gave a nervous laugh. “Teri reckoned you were stalking me.”
Rob’s smile didn’t slip. “Hey, if I was a stalker, you couldn’t have made it easier for me, posting so much personal info on the Web site.” He was sitting sideways to Alex, looking him full in the face, one arm resting on the back of the bench. His elbow, Alex noticed, was skuzzy with eczema. Serious now, he said quietly, “I had to see for myself. See if you were for real . . . or just some hoaxer, like the others said.”
“And you think I am? For real, I mean.”
Rob nodded. “You can always recognize another PE.”
“Mate, you just look so bloody lonely in there.”
FTC Advisory: Wendy Lamb Books/Random House provided me with a copy of Flip. No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review.
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