From the Publisher
Told in emails, transcripts, memos and other musings, Bindy records the eventful start of Year 11
at Ashbury, an Australian private school Moriarty has portrayed in her previous work. Bindy is an overachiever who thinks her classmates, teachers and even the School Board are desperately in need of her input. The FAD (“Friendship and Development”) group, a new class taught by Try Montaine,
really needs her help. Bindy's hair, worn in two long braids rolled on the sides of her head, becomes symbolic of her rigid, uncool, uptight existence. The murder of Bindy seems impossible, as she is the main character, and Bindy is unaware of her ability to cause enmity with that level of vitriol, being more comfy with just being irritating. Yet upon becoming aware of her own failings, she's equally committed to atoning completely. Bindy's unreliable narration provides most of the humor and suspense, hitting all the typical buttons Moriarty fans have come to expect, including a strange family life and an over-the-top dénouement. As memorably unique as Bindy herself. (Fiction. YA)
Moriarty follows The Year of Secret Assignments (2004) with another uproarious novel written entirely in diary entries, school assignments, transcripts, and other inventive formats. Once again the setting is Ashbury High, in Sydney, Australia, and Bindy MacKenzie, who had a pivotal cameo in Assignments, returns as the central character. Brilliant, precocious Bindy (“I've been struggling a bit with Ulysses by James Joyce,” she wrote in her diary as a ten-years-old) is frustrated when her gestures of kindness towards fellow students go unappreciated. Her aggressive resistance to a new required course, Friendship and Development, sharply alienates a group of her fellow classmates, whom she nicknames the Venomous Six. But as she gradually gains self-awareness, it's these students, along with dreamy transfer student, Finnegan, who embrace, support, and even save her. An additional crime plot is absurdly, gleefully flimsy and preposterous. It's the wild balancing act of shifting formats; the truths about family, school, and social pressures; and Bindy's unforgettable, earnest, hilariously high-strung voice that will capture and hold eager readers. Gillian Engberg
This companion to Feeling Sorry for Celia and The Year of Secret Assignments (rev. 3/04) is set in the same Australian high school and focuses on yet another of its students. Fans may remember Bindy Mackenzie as the fast typist who transcribed the school hearing in Secret Assignments; the top student whose eccentricities have left her with few friends. As in that book, the story here is told entirely through diaries, memos, e-mail, and letters. Bindy's voice, both written and spoken, is old-fashioned and melodramatic -- and very funny. Well-meaning and sincere, Bindy is hopelessly clueless about how pompous she sounds and how many enemies she's made. Eventually it becomes clear that Bindy is in deep trouble: her habit of listening in on and transcribing people's conversations has apparently angered someone, enough to make her an attempted murder victim. While completely over-the-top, the murder mystery will have readers going back to hunt for clues they missed. Fans of the first two books will be eager to visit Ashbury High and its intrigues again, and to find out just what makes brainy Bindy tick. J.M.B.
In most high schools, good candidates for murder are not hard to come by; so why single out practically perfect Bindy Mackenzie? This teen novel, told entirely in emails and other documents, unfolds a mystery that involves far more than homicidal intentions.
Sure, she has ticked off the entire high school, but could someone actually be out to kill the heroine in The Murder of Bindy Mackenzie? by Jaclyn Moriarty, the companion book to Feeling Sorry for Celia and The Year of Secret Assignments. Bindy's journal entries and e-mail exchanges quicken the narrative pace. Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
VOYA - Kimberly Paone
Bindy Mackenzie is a brilliant, Australian high school student-maybe too smart for her own good. As the top student in her class, Bindy is already intimidating, but her annoying know-it-all attitude only helps to distance her from fellow students at Ashbury High. This situation is further complicated by a new required class, Friendship and Development ("FAD"), where Bindy is forced to interact with a group of peers and build relationships with people whom she knows are not fond of her. What Bindy's classmates do not realize is that she has greater problems with which to contend: Her parents have moved to the city and have left Bindy to live with her aunt and uncle. She feels constant pressure to stay on top of her studies, and lately she has been feeling extremely ill. As Bindy and her FAD group begin coming to terms with each other, the mystery of what is really going on with Bindy starts to unravel. Could it be that someone would really want to kill Bindy Mackenzie? Could someone really be poisoning her? Fans of Moriarty's The Year of Secret Assignments (Scholastic, 2004/VOYA June 2004) will be curious to revisit the lives of some of the characters whom they enjoyed in this companion novel. Unfortunately Bindy is not a very likeable character, and readers may tire of her long before they reach the final portion of this quite lengthy book where the mystery of Bindy's life and possible murder is revealed and cleverly solved.
Children's Literature - Naomi Williamson
Bindy Mackenzie is in year 11 at Ashbury High in Sydney, Australia. Told through e-mails, letters, lists, transcripts of conversations, and her written musings, the story of Bindy and her classmates unfolds. A new class, Friendship and Development, or FAD, has been added to the curriculum and Bindy is not happy that study time will now be devoted to this obviously worthless class. Bindy is short on social skills and she doesn't seem to understand why her classmates don't want her to tell them how to improve their lives. As the school year progress Bindy seems to fade into nothingnessshe doesn't study, misses classes, stops practicing the piano, and seems to be ill a lot. Though it gets off to a slow start the story does pick up and will eventually draw the reader into the discovery of just why Bindy's life is out of control. This is a story of friendships developing among the most unlikely students. While Bindy's family is somewhat dysfunctional, she has the support of her aunt and uncle during this difficult time, as well as some other adults who are on the fringes of her life. The puzzle of who would try to kill Bindy and why adds some intrigue to the collective plot. With Bindy's amazing intellect, imagination, and curiosity it is quite a challenge for the reader to unravel the mystery. This is a cleverly written story with many factors that may be true to life for many pre-teens and teens. The length may be somewhat daunting for the average reader, but once into the story they will stay with it as someone goes in for the kill.
Like The Year of Secret Assignments, Moriarty's previous story set in Ashbury High School, near Sydney, Australia, this is inventive, lengthy, and highly entertaining. It is told in a series of letters, journal entries, and e-mail messages. Bindy, the narrator, obsessively writes everything she thinks and witnesses on her ever-present laptop computer, which is how the story is propelled. What is ingenious is how it is revealed that Bindy's judgment is frequently faulty and her observations are inaccurate, because she is seeing everything through her idiosyncratic understanding of herself and others. It's daring for an author to give us a misfit, an unpopular adolescent, as the main character because many YAs just don't want to read about such a person. However, if readers can stay with Bindy long enough to get engrossed in her strange story, they will thoroughly enjoy the twists and turns of the amazing plot. For fans of The Year of Secret Assignments, there are hints at the events from that book scattered around in this one. In the end, it is the intelligent YA reader who loves mysteries and puzzles who will thoroughly enjoy this story. KLIATT Codes: JS--Recommended for junior and senior high school students. 2006, Scholastic, Arthur A. Levine Books, 494p., $16.99.. Ages 12 to 18.
Bindy MacKenzie can do no wrong. She is in the top of her class, notices everything around her, and offers self-help sessions for her fellow students. Bindy is the last person who needs a friendship and development class. Her fellow classmates take on the personality of vicious animals, and her too American teacher is too much to deal with. Life couldn't be worse, until it gets worse. The mystery behind two teachers' arguments, the enigmatic and cute Finnegan Blonde, and her own family's hidden secrets unfold as Bindy tells her story through memos, ponderings, letters, and her ever present electronic journal. More mysterious are the changes within Bindy herself. Is she being poisoned? Or is she just losing her mind? Moriarty spins a fascinating story of an overachiever forced to deal with her own limitations, at the same time presenting an intriguing mystery. Not until the end are all of the mysteries revealed. An excellent book for upper middle school and high school.
School Library Journal
Gr 7 Up
Through her diary, memos, letters, e-mails, etc., readers get to know this humorously unlikable, holier-than-thou perfectionist. The twist is that Bindy is being slowly murdered! It's easy to miss that detail, though, as the story focuses on her growth away from over-judging others, specifically her seven fellow Year 11 students in her "Friendship and Development" course at their Australian private school. Forgetting the murder thing-which Moriarty mostly does for 450 pages of this tome-this is an enjoyable, well-paced read with an emotional delicacy weaving through the light humor of Bindy's egocentricity. After Bindy's growth, however, the author postpones the denouement to tie the remaining loose threads up in an action-packed murder-mystery ending, utterly changing the book's tone. Moriarty's fans will miss the fully fleshed-out supporting characters of her earlier novels, but Bindy is a perversely engaging protagonist.
Rhona CampbellCopyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Told in emails, transcripts, memos and other musings, Bindy records the eventful start of Year 11 at Ashbury, an Australian private school Moriarty has portrayed in her previous work. Bindy is an overachiever who thinks her classmates, teachers and even the School Board are desperately in need of her input. The FAD ("Friendship and Development") group, a new class taught by Try Montaine, really needs her help. Bindy's hair, worn in two long braids rolled on the sides of her head, becomes symbolic of her rigid, uncool, uptight existence. The murder of Bindy seems impossible, as she is the main character, and Bindy is unaware of her ability to cause enmity with that level of vitriol, being more comfy with just being irritating. Yet upon becoming aware of her own failings, she's equally committed to atoning completely. Bindy's unreliable narration provides most of the humor and suspense, hitting all the typical buttons Moriarty fans have come to expect, including a strange family life and an over-the-top d‚nouement. As memorably unique as Bindy herself. (Fiction. YA)