Sunday, March 7, 2010

Book Review: Claim to Fame by Margaret Peterson Haddix

Lindsay Scott was a child star until a special talent to hear everything anyone said about her manifested when she was 11 and caused a nervous breakdown. Now, 5 years later, she is a virtual hermit in a “safe” house that somehow blocks her power and gives her peace. Until the day two fans kidnap her.

I was really intrigued by the concept of being able to hear what people say about you. I could imagine that being tough for a normal person, but for a celebrity? It would be a curse for sure. And Lindsay certainly has it hard – she is afraid to leave her safe house at all, but especially when reruns of her TV show are on because of the cacophony of voices inside her head, all talking about her.

But this novel was just weird. It’s a middle grade book, but it’s about a 16 year old girl and talks a lot about transcendentalism. It quotes Thoreau. There’s a kidnapping, a recently deceased father, a minor living alone, a mother in a mental hospital, a family secret, a plan to get rid of meddlesome busybodies, a convict slowly making his way towards “that sweet girl on the TV show,” and it’s too much – the narrative buckles under the weight of so many half-baked plot threads.

It’s not a terrible book. The writing flows well, and Lindsay’s voice is completely believable. There’s also the nice message hiding in there somewhere about learning not to care what others think about you because no matter how hard you try you’ll never please everyone. I just wish the story itself had been more coherent and concentrated on digging deeper into a couple of issues instead of introducing a bunch of subplots and wrapping them up in a big shiny bow at the end.

CLAIM TO FAME is out in hardcover now. Find out more about it at the author’s website.

14 comments:

Jill of The O.W.L. said...

Thanks for the review. I've found that many of her new releases haven't been as good lately.

Sandy Nawrot said...

It is a fun idea though, isn't it? And the author's reputation certainly precedes her...she is all the rage at my kids' school. Maybe she is just having some sort of mid-life crisis or something and has lost some mojo.

KrysteyBelle said...

I really enjoyed her Shadow Children series, and the concept of this book sounds intriguing. It's a shame it doesn't pan out. Maybe if the library gets it, I'll check it out. Thanks.

Alea said...

Hmm I saw this cover on like Amazon Vine or something and it looked straight out of the 80s.

bermudaonion said...

Thanks for the review - I don't think this is for me.

Lenore said...

Jill - I read 2 of the Shadow Children books last month and Running Out of Time long ago. They were definitely better than this.

Sandy - I wonder how middle-graders will like this one. It seems like it's for older teens at the youngest.

Krystey - I think she has great premises, but I'm not yet sold on the executions.

Alea - So true. I got it from Amazon Vine.

Kathy - No, it really isn't!

Sadako said...

I agree that the premise is really good, but it's too bad the book wasn't as good as it sounded. I think I'll still try to give it a chance at some point.

Lauren said...

I've only read a few books by Margaret Peterson Haddix, but each time I've found that I liked the premise a lot more than the book itself. Thanks for the review.

Steph Su said...

Ohh interesting. I agree that many of her newer books haven't been as good as her old ones. I think I still might pick this one and see what I think of it, since I've heard about it for a while and the concept sounds interesting.

Lenore said...

Sadako - This might be a fun one for you to read and get your snark on.

Lauren - That's what I am thinking now.

Steph - It's a quick read, so no harm done if it's not your cup of tea.

Beth F said...

I got interested when you mentioned Transcendentalism and then got disinterested when I read the too many threads bit. I think I'll just let it pass.

Jeanne said...

Just chiming in to say that I also think Haddix's new releases aren't as good as her older fiction. I wonder why she's publishing so much lately--it's almost like she's spreading herself too thin.

Zibilee said...

Wow! It kind of sounds like a hot mess of a book. There seem to be lots of weird and divergent plot points going on, and it's not hard to see why this might be a weird read. Your review does leave me a bit curious about it though!

Ms. Yingling said...

Yeah. Since she's local, I bought it, and the students are reading it, but it didn't make a whole lot of sense to me.It wasn't bad; just not what I wanted.