Jan 5, 2015

Blog Tour: How to Outswim a Shark Without a Snorkel

Hello, little fishies of the bookish sea! Welcome to my port stop on the blog tour for Jess Keating's How to Outswim a Shark Without a Snorkel (say that five times fast)! I thoroughly enjoyed How to Outrun a Crocodile When Your Shoes Are Untied, and so I'm excited to share my review of Shark with you today! So sit back, relax, and be prepared to really want to read these books. (And I promise no sharks will attack you.)

Title: How to Outswim a Shark Without a Snorkel
Author: Jess Keating
Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky
Publishing Date: January 6, 2015
Pages/Format: 304, Paperback
Goodreads Amazon Barnes & Noble

Ana Wright's summer just got terrifying. She's finally getting used to living in a zoo (no, seriously—she lives with her family in an actual zoo), when she's assigned to work in the new shark tank. With her worst enemy. Forget about sharks! Ashley is the ultimate predator. And after Ana's favorite croc peed on Ashley's shoes, she's probably out for revenge.

This can't be good.

Book in One Word: ASHARKable!

Last year, I read and adored the adorkableness that was Keating's first novel. How to Outrun a Crocodile When Your Shoes Are Untied was such fun, and it also happened to be one of my top ten books of 2014. So of course I was super eager to read the second book, impatiently waiting for a cover and synopsis and my chance to get my hands on it. And while Croc is still my favorite, How to Outswim a Shark Without a Snorkel was still good a book, and it had a brand new story--well, not completely new; just new troubles for poor Ana, and this time with sharks!

Shark starts soon after where Croc left off: Anna and her family live at the zoo (which is the coolest thing EVER), she successfully did a presentation on reptiles (and even has a little bit of YouTube fame because of it), and she's spending her summer helping out at the zoo, where her parents work and her grandfather has a bit of say in, since he's kind of like the Crocodile Hunter (all of this is also the coolest thing EVER). And then good ol' Grandpa surprises the Wrights by bringing an Adventure Zone to the zoo, filled with rays, underwater creatures, and sharks. Ana gets to work the zone, but unfortunately for her and in true Ana fashion, sharks aren't the only predators she has to spend the summer with: Sneerer and Ultimate Enemy Ashley is working with her.

The overall...mood of Shark felt a little different than that of Croc, and I don't mean that negatively. There's still some adorkableness, and I still suffer secondhand embarrassment and cringe for Ana, but Shark focused more on Ana growing up and making her own decisions. She is, after all, going into the eighth grade, the last grade before high school. As she works with Ashley, she has to decide how to act: does she always keep her defenses up and prepare for and expect the worse, or does she give Ashley a chance and try to make a new friend? When it comes to Liv (who I don't care for all that much), her best friend who moved to New Zealand, does she try to stay at the same pace? Liv's ahead of the game, the game where her and Ana would do everything together because they're BFFs. Liv gets to skip a grade and start high school a year early, meaning it's time for her and Ana to finally shave their legs and fulfill their kissing pact (get their first kiss before entering high school). But Ana's only thirteen, and she doesn't know if she's ready for all that. Although she does like Kevin, but she doesn't know if Kevin likes her. (They're so cute, my little Middle Grade ship!)

The best part about these books--and what makes them so criminally underrated--is Ana's voice. It's real and relatable and honest and cringe-worthy. Ana is your real, average (or maybe slightly above) thirteen-year-old girl (or is she twelve?) in middle school who's totally embarrassed by her family: she's awkward and dorky and smells like animal poo. But she's real, and she's dedicated to her family and her work, and she's not some perfect protagonist like the ones in so many books. Ana could actually be real. (But my gosh, the poor thing, some of the worst things happen to her, like accidentally putting on her father's cologne instead of her mother's perfume, and then mixing the two together, when she's going to hang out with Kevin.) If you read these books for anything, read them for the excellent voice. And characters. And animal facts. And Creature Files and other little fun things Ana puts together. So really, just read them. (It doesn't matter how old you are; I'm twenty-one and I like them.)

At the end of the show, while I didn't looove Shark, at least not like Croc, it was still good, and it makes me want to read more Middle Grade. (A little side note, but I started reading this on my Kindle and then switched to paperback, and doing so gave the book a different feel, which was totally weird, because I think I liked reading it on my Kindle more.) How to Outswim a Shark Without a Snorkel is about an honest and imperfect protagonist forced to work with her antagonist, who maybe isn't the antagonist after all. If you like animals, this is for you. If you like books with great voice and an excellent cast of characters, this is for you. And if you want to know how to outswim a shark without a snorkel, this is for you. Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go look into volunteer applications at my local zoo and wait for the third book in this entertaining Middle Grade series to arrive. (Question: Can there be kissing in Middle Grade books? Please say yes.)

Did I like it? Yes!

Did I love it? Not quite, I think.
Would I reread it? More likely than not!
Would I purchase it? Barnes & Noble had it early and I drove like thirty minutes to get it, so...
Who would I recommend it to? Everyone, really. But to be more specific: people who like their books fun with a side of quirky. Also, if you're a fan of animals at all, or you know someone is (especially some young readers, I think), then read this.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review, and that in no way sways my opinion of the book.

The Adorkablness Begins In...
TitleHow to Outrun a Crocodile When Your Shoes Are Untied
Author: Jess Keating
Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky
Publishing Date: June 3, 2014
Pages: 288

What would middle school be like if you lived in a zoo?

Ana didn't ask to be named after an anaconda. She didn't ask for zoologist parents who look like safari guides. And she definitely didn't ask for a twin brother whose life goal seems to be terrorizing her with his pet reptiles. Now, to make matters worse, her parents have decided to move the whole family INTO the zoo! All of which gives the Sneerers (the clan of carnivorous female predators in her class) more ammunition to make her life miserable-and squash any hope of class tennis stud, Zack, falling in love with her. Ana tries to channel her inner chameleon and fade into the background, but things are changing too quickly for her to keep up.

As an author and zoologist, Jess Keating has tickled a shark, lost a staring contest against an octopus, and been a victim to the dreaded paper cut. She lives in Ontario, Canada, where she spends most of her time writing books for adventurous and funny kids. Her first fiction novel How to Outrun a Crocodile When Your Shoes Are Untied received a Starred Review from Kirkus and has been nominated for a Red Maple award.

Shark Notes
To celebrate the release of How to Outswim a Shark Without a Snorkel, follow #SharkNotes on Twitter all week for a bunch of fun facts, like these!

1 comment:

  1. These books sound soooo freaking adorable! I'm adding them to my tbr list. Good review!


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