book review: Warp Speed

title: Warp Speed

author: Lisa Yee

date: Scholastic, 2011

main character: Marley Sandelski

I’ve never read Lisa Yee before but I recognized Millicent Min and Stanford Wong from titles in my media center. After reading Warp Speed, I plan to make time to read Yee’s previous books.

Marley Sandelski is by all accounts a geek. He and his friends argue over the importance of Star Wars and Star Trek. They’re members of the AV club. Marley gets beat up, chased home and spit on regularly. But you now what? I liked Marley and I didn’t feel sorry for him.  He’s loyal to his friends and family and that goes a long way in being a likable character. He’s believable and charming although he has to look frumpy from his lack of attention to his appearance. Warp Speed is a slice of life kind of story where we watch Marley develop from a an immature geek to . . .  a more mature geek. He lives with his mom and dad in an old movie theater where he plays with old costumes and Star Trek action figures. The only class he likes is the AV class where he is safe with his friends and favorite teacher. Well, that is until one day his favorite teacher has appendicitis and Marley and his friends are farmed out to the Home Sciences class. Yes, that’s cooking and sewing. And cute girls. At 3:00 it’s the Gorn and the daily chase home which allows the track coach to see Marley’s true potential as a runner.  Oh, there are lessons to learn and themes to discuss but this book is just too well written and too good for all that!

My favorite scene was when Marley was setting up the equipment for the PTA meeting in the library. It was so well written, I felt like I was there with Marley feeling his pain and guarding his shame. I do wonder why the other two members of the AV club were not developed at all. The bullies managed to be more than stock characters, just barely though. I do think it would have been difficult go put more attention to them without changing the story. They did develop into real people with some complexity to them thus taking the story to a deeper level.

Warp Speed is a book with situations and character to which students can easily relate. The reader is immediately pulled into the story and will stay there not only to the end, but into Yee’s other books as well.

Lisa Yee maintains her own blog and website. What I realized in searching to find background information for this review is that Lisa Yee really likes kids. She likes interacting with them, listening to them and being an advocate for them. Consequently, she knows how to write for them rather than about them. Warp Speed is a middle grade book.

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