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Posted April 11, 2012
"Great, my first wish killed me." ~Ashley
I wouldn't call myself a sci-fi fan, but I read Laura Elliott's "13 on Halloween" and loved it so much that I thought I would give this one a try. I quickly found out that it's less of a sci-fi story and more of a boy/girl finding themselves story. Her descriptions bring the planet of Retha alive through Beverly Hill's popularity queen Ashley's eyes. Elliott never disappoints when it comes to originality. That is perhaps this book's most endearing quality. Just as unique as the alien planet and all that it holds is Rhoe's views on our planet. Would an alien really figure out how to sit in a car seat? Even if he could understand English, would he understand that "over my dead body" doesn't mean that the speaker has a death wish? I also liked the way that alien Rhoe would give Retha names to things on Earth, like calling a car, a pod. That seemed very natural. I've always been very fascinated by the habit of putting a name to everything.
But my favorite part is the very beginning when Ashley discusses her repulsion of yellow stars. She talks about how the other kids always made the stars in their pictures yellow, when in truth they are not. The yellow stars are fake, a lie that's been generally accepted. This rang very true to me and I found it to be very insightful of the author to include it. EVEN IF YOU'RE NOT A SCI-FI FAN, YOU'LL LOVE TRANSFER STUDENT!
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Posted May 3, 2012
Transfer Student starts off almost sleepily & sort of meanders it's way into the action. There was almost an alien feel to the Earth described in the first few chapters surrounding Ashley. I can't pinpoint exactly why that was but perhaps it was merely foreign to me to be in the inner circle with the supposed "in crowd" as they wildly hurtled themselves through drugs & sexual references while on a field trip. That Ashley behaved so masculine with regard to her sexual desires & daydreams that made me instantly dislike her. I think her cavalier & careless attitude toward it was unattractive. But she didn't stay unattractive long.
Rhoe struck me as more naive & juvenile than Ashley. I felt his personality & thoughts were more age appropriate & his dedication to his family was honorable. I thoroughly enjoyed getting to see both his world & our world through his eyes. Sometimes I laughed out loud reading how he viewed things like cars & drinking water once he & Ashley had swapped bodies across the universe. I appreciated his side of the story by far more than Ashley's but Ashley did eventually grow on me too. There was some good depth & character growth among the two protagonists that I felt was handled very nicely & realistically.
Both the world we know & the alien world of Retha were brilliantly painted. It felt very tactile & relatable whether we were surfing the waves in LA or gliding through the air toward the divide between Retha & the Other Side. And once the story really got going, it was a pretty fun read. I did roll my eyes every so often at the gratuitous topic of sex/sensuality in all its various states & I feel I would have given this 4 stars if that part of the narrative had been largely absent. I do understand that hormonal teens finding themselves in the body of the opposite sex would be quite the sensory overload but I felt there was so much more that could be explored outside of that.
Transfer Student was a very interesting read. It's not meant for younger readers but belongs with more mature readers. The entire idea behind this book is fascinating & I would definitely look forward to more books in this world/series if the focus is slightly shifted.
Posted March 18, 2012
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