Sunday, January 2, 2011

YA book review: Spray by Harry Edge

Reading Level: YA
Paperback: 240 Pages
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends (November 9, 2010)

Book Summary: A group of of teens sign up for an assassination game on the streets of a big city. Their weapons: pressurized water guns. It's meant to be a game, a sport. But for some, it's more than harmless fun. To win, they'll use "any" means necessary.

Two hundred players. Three weeks of tense cat-and-mouse action. Every stalker is being stalked and only one player will be left standing. No one will be the same.

My Review: For those over the age of fifteen, an all out war has broken out in a fictitious city. The objective: to assassinate your target. Weapon: water gun. This all out Super Soaker war was created and is constantly maintained by the mysterious man referred to by all as the “Gamekeeper.” A select group of assistants are the only help he receives in keeping track of the score and handing out the laminated cards that contain the details of each player’s next target. The player must first locate and then spray his/her target, who then forks over the laminate of his/her assigned target.

Spray focuses on a select group of players as they strategize and devote a large portion of their daily lives towards the water war. There’s Han, an underage participant who struggles with balancing her school and home life while fulfilling an ulterior motive through her participation in Spray. Jenny is an attractive seventeen year old who finds love in this suspenseful competition. Mac is infatuated with and follows the Spray game as it travels to different cities while concealing a great secret from the other players. Maiko, a college friend of Shell’s, does not last long in the spray war but proves helpful to others. Maiko’s first-year university friend, Shell, uses her friends as an advantage in contest. Green, a lonely computer technician at the city university, gains more than he could ever ask for while competing in Spray. Lastly, the student nurse Zed partners up with her boyfriend to participate in Spray as a co op team. Spray alternates between the perspectives of these seven characters, allowing the reader to get a glimpse of each of their personal lives and feelings.

In my opinion, Spray has an intriguing storyline and concept, but lacks emotion and clarity. Due to the alternating point of view between eight characters, I found it hard to relate and sympathize with each of them. Such a variety of personal journeys to follow along with also became confusing for me and I often found myself looking back to previous chapters in order to figure out who’s who and what his/her situation is. If Harry Edge was to write with a perspective alternating between two or three characters, I would probably enjoy the story more.The story, though suspenseful, didn't always hold my interest and some sections seemed dull.

Rating: +++

Favorite excerpt: “Shell knew two things about fire alarms. The first was that, when a fire alarm sounded, everybody was supposed to go to a specific place. The second was that nobody ever knew where that specific place was. As the alarm screeched, deafeningly, to through the echoey corridors, people scattered in different directions. The Invisible Man still had a crowd of students around him, including Shell. She glanced in the direction that she had last seen Mac, but he wasn’t there. Which was good. Mac had to follow the Invisible Man outside, but not too obviously. The Invisible Man mustn’t spot him. If necessary, Shell could always call Mac to let him know where his target was standing.” (Page 131, ARC Edition)

Cover Comment (ARC): The usage of a cliché (“You can run, but you can’t hide!”) on the cover is incredibly cheesy. Otherwise, it is decent; very simplistic but it suits the storyline adequately.

Book Source: From publisher for an honest review

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