Title: The Vigilante Poets of Selwyn Academy
Author: Kate Kattemer
Rating: 4/5 Stars
Paperback, 336 Pages
Published March 2016
(First Published April 2014)
Summary: Witty, sarcastic Ethan and his three best friends are students at Selwyn Arts Academy, which has been hijacked by For Art’s Sake, a sleazy reality-television show. In the tradition of Ezra Pound, the foursome secretly writes and distributes a long poem to protest the show. They’re thrilled to have started a budding rebellion. But the forces behind the show are craftier than they seem. The web of betrayal stretches farther than Ethan could have ever imagined, and it’s up to him, his friends, and a heroic gerbil named Baconnaise to save Selwyn.
This book was first published a few years ago, but Penguin/Random House just came out with a new cover, so they sent me a copy to review. It was a total surprise, but I was super excited because it seemed like the perfect blend of a contemporary and a mystery for me, so I got into it right away. (Although this was possibly the longest time it's taken me to read a book ever, being that I am so far behind in things because of everything that's happening with our school dance competition - which Amber and I explain here.)
So as the summary explains, the students of Selwyn Academy have a serious predicament. A new reality TV show is being filmed at their school, and it's bringing out the ugly side of some people, and there's just a fishy air about it in general. So Ethan and a handful of his friends decide that they're going to get down to the bottom of kTV and For Art's Sake - no matter the costs.
I just mentioned that when I received this book I already thought I was going to enjoy it, which is true. What I was not expecting was to enjoy it as much as I did. Ethan's narration made the book ten times more enjoyable for me - I felt the same way about this book as I did when I read Me, Earl and the Dying Girl this past summer. When a narrator has razor-sharp wit and humor and can't help making a few jokes per page, it really gives you an enjoyable reading experience. At times I found it hard to put the book down because I wanted to keep reading and see what Ethan was going to say next.
Ethan definitely made the book for me. There were plenty of other worthwhile and funny characters (for example, Elizabeth and Jackson), but Ethan definitely had the reigning sense of humor that made the book such a hysterical read. (I would DEFINITELY recommend this book if you need a little bit of humor in your life at the current moment. It's a good pick-me-up.)
(There are some mild spoilers ahead so please skip to the next paragraph if you haven't read this book yet!) The one person/thing that I really didn't like about this book was Luke. When he turned around and did what he did to his supposed "best friends," I didn't like the fact that Ethan missed him. Sure, he was your best friend previously and you had a lot of history together, but friends don't backstab one another like that. So at the very end of the book when he makes a reappearance and everyone seems alright with it, I was pissed. I would've kicked him the heck out right away. (But then again, I personally can hold a grudge like nobody's business.)
All in all, The Vigilante Poets of Selwyn Academy was a novel full of secrets, reality TV, betrayal, and lots and lots of humor. I definitely recommend it to anybody looking for an entertaining read! Kate Hattemer has an excellent sense of narration and writing style, and I'd totally be open to reading more work of hers in the future.
I'd like to thank Penguin/Random House for sending me this book in exchange for an honest review! All thoughts expressed here are entirely my own and in no way did the author or the publishers have any prior knowledge of this review before it went up live today. :-)