The Super Freak by Brian Falkner
|The Super Freak by Brian Falkner|
|Category: Confident Readers|
|Reviewer: Iain Wear|
|Summary: A fun little story, simply written and full of action. The plot passes muster for the age group, but younger readers will thoroughly enjoy it.|
|Buy? Maybe||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 192||Date: September 2008|
|Publisher: Walker Books|
My exposure to the literature of New Zealand has up to this point been quite limited. Thanks to the Lord of the Rings films, I've seen plenty of the scenery and found that to be very impressive. Thanks to friends I have also been exposed to their rugby teams, which are also very impressive and their music which, quite frankly, isn't. But just as the scenery from the films prompted a friend to visit the country, so a first taste of their writing has encouraged me to seek out more.
The Super Freak is the story of Jacob John Smith, who is a bit of a loner thanks to being forced to move schools several times because of his father's job. Not trusting in people, he loses himself in books as he can rely on them to always be there. But then, a couple of things happen to Jacob John Smith that he didn't expect; he makes a couple of good friends and he discovers that he has the power to control other people by thought.
Unfortunately, whilst doing so, he comes to the attention of Blocker, the class bully. Without really doing anything wrong, Jacob John Smith seems to get into trouble and even when he does something right, the praise never seems to come his way. But now he has the power to make people think and do what he wants them to do and he has a plan of how best to take advantage of it.
We get to follow Jacob John Smith as he deals with all the pressures that come with being a teenager and being at school. He has to deal with bullies, he has to make friends and he has to summon up the nerve to ask Erica to go out with him. On top of this, he has to deal with his super power; testing its limits and deciding whether using it at all is the right thing to do.
There's a lot going on here, things that anyone in Jacob John Smith's position will be able to relate to. Whilst many of us may not be able to understand his loneliness after being moved around so much by his parents, pretty much everything else is a very common experience for pretty much everyone. This helps keep the story seeming real and you'll find yourself wishing you had a power like Jacob John Smith's and could make teachers write rude words on the blackboard like he did.
This makes the book the perfect read for younger readers. There's always something going on and Jacob John Smith has the same interests as many people his age will and I'm sure that any teenager who suddenly discovered he had a super power would be inclined to test its limits and find some way of taking advantage of it. As a character he seemed very real in the way he acted and thought, especially at one point where he just had a random thought in a certain situation that summed up not just the character, but people of that age perfectly. It has another bonus in that it's very simply written, which makes it easy to read and for those not yet confident enough to read for themselves, there's plenty going on to make it a fairly decent story to have read to them.
Brian Falkner also manages to write in a way that will appeal to parents who may be looking for a book to buy for children. Jacob John Smith has an interest in books and words, so whilst it's a simply written story, there are a few words used that will stretch the vocabulary and some of them are uncommon enough that even adults may learn something. To assist with understanding, there's a nice little glossary at the end of some of the trickier words presented in Jacob John Smith's voice, which I thought was a nice touch.
If there is one down side to the story, it's that it does seem to tail off a little towards the end. This is a common problem with books like this in that once all the excitement is done with, there has to be something so the book doesn't just stop. Frequently, the ending after that point does come as a let down and the same is true here. The problem is more with the type of story than it is with the author, who has done a superb job with the characters and the story here.
However, this doesn't mean that what has gone before isn't worth a look and for anyone who can read confidently, this is a great book. The story is fun and simple and it has the additional bonus of helping with vocabulary. Some of the words may be a little advanced for readers who are only just reading alone and it may be just a touch childish for teenagers, but for anyone in between these two groups, it's certainly worth a look.
I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to The Bookbag.
for this age group we can also recommend Cosmic by Frank Cottrell Boyce.
You can read more book reviews or buy The Super Freak by Brian Falkner at Amazon.co.uk
You can read more book reviews or buy The Super Freak by Brian Falkner at Amazon.com.
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