Cycler

There was an error when I filled my prescription this week and I didn't realize the dose was four times stronger than it was meant to be. It's had some adverse affects, like today I slept until seven pm instead of seven am, and it means this column is late, as well as possibly a bit of a mess. I apologize to my readers and promise to write down the dosage of what I take so if it changes I'll notice. (I've got a bad memory ever since I had meningitis. So I come up with workarounds but often don't know I need a workaround, if that makes sense.) Anyway, on with the column, which is also a bit short.

Cycler by Lauren McLaughlin – Cycler is about Jack and Jill who share the same body, but not in your traditional multi-personality way. Jill gets the body for most of the month, with Jack only getting it for four or so days while Jill is premenstrual. What a nightmare for Jack! He gets gypped when it comes to equal time and his body is cranky and all the other fun things that come with PMS.

I'd read the basic concept on Scalzi's blog (http://whatever.scalzi.com/) quite some time before I read Cycler and I thought it was a terrific idea for a book. Built in conflict, confusion, sibling rivalry that takes place in one body – the comedic and dramatic possibilities were vast. But unfortunately the book wasn't at all what I anticipated and I ended up feeling let down.

While I like the Princess Diaries and enjoyed the one about Mia desperately wanting to go to the prom, it wasn't the prom that interested me. It was the crazy dynamics of her life and the very funny way she expresses herself. So I was able to tolerate the bits about the prom because it was also about so much more.

While Cycler is about much more than just prom, sadly for me Cycler spends a great deal of time obsessing about going and Jill spends a lot of time playing stupid games trying to get the attention of the guy she's interested in. (Apparently it never crossed her mind to just ask him.) I have a personal bias to this kind of behavior so I had to really grit my teeth to get through this part of the book. (That mostly involved giving her advice, which of course she couldn't hear.)

I was disappointed again when I got to the first time we meet Jack, who is a very interesting character. He's sort of wild and snarky and angry, which makes sense because his mother has reacted to his presence by locking him up every single month. The more he tries to get loose and be a real boy, the more she treats him like a mad murderer and ups the security in his and Jill's bedroom.

There are a lot of important issues discussed in this book, how far you'll go to try and fit in, what rights parents have or take over their children, the feeling that many teens have that they’re weird, or monstrous, or different and will never fit in, but the issues which most interested me, seemed to be less important than what to wear to prom and who to ask. For me Cycler wasn't the book I was expecting. (Although I really couldn't tell you what I was expecting.)

However I've heard great things about it all over the web so hopefully your mileage will differ. I did enjoy the book but I didn't recommend it to any of my kids or my YA friends. However, all that said, I will be reading the sequel, so obviously I liked it more than I might sound like I liked it. I suppose it was a third base hit, not a homerun. (And no, I don't know anything about baseball so those might not even be real terms.)

You can read an excerpt from Cycler here and see for yourself: http://www.randomhouse.com/catalog/display.pperl/display.pperl?isbn=9780...

One-Paragraph Review

This week's one-paragraph review is from Viper who writes in to say, "Ultimate Frisbee - Ultimate Frisbee easily earned its title of “ULTIMATE” by adding something to the leisurely activity that people enjoy at the park or beach. The innocent game of catch that people play with their dogs now has a strong team sport element to it complete with its own rules, regulations and techniques. Ultimate Frisbee is a 7-on-7 game that is similar to soccer, football (American) and basketball; the disc is first thrown off from the defense, like a kickoff, and then advanced up field by passes from the offense, which can’t run with the Frisbee disc, down to the end zone to score a touchdown. This game is unique in that you don’t need experience to throw a Frisbee (since everyone and anyone can do it) and that it is self-refereed by the players; so if someone fouls another player then the player calls a foul and the play stops for clarification. Ultimate Frisbee is a sport that anyone can play right from the get-go since it comes naturally as throwing a Frisbee." Do you have a one-paragraph (or smaller) review you'd like to share? Send it in to me for consideration. You can reach me at feedback@qualitytimeweekly.com.