Saturday, August 4, 2012

♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥: Kevin's Point of View by Del Shannon

Release Date: May 19th, 2011
Publisher: Flatiron View (self-published)
Page Count: 395
Source: Complimentary copy provided by author in exchange for an honest and unbiased review (thank you!)

Kevin Tobin is a relatively ordinary 12-year-old dealing with the aftermath of his father's death in a mountain biking accident near their home in Boulder, Colorado. To escape from his emotional turmoil, Kevin has developed his imagination into a dangerous foil and a powerful ally. While he antagonizes his sister through his superhero antics on an average Wednesday morning, his ability to escape inside a character's head become critical to his survival after his life is once-again turned upside down a year after his father's death.

A mysterious package arrives in the mail, Kevin and his best friend are hunted down by a ruthless villain set upon world domination, and after enlisting Kevin's teenage sister and her pizza-delivery boyfriend in a battle for control over time itself, the secret of Kevin's whole existence is revealed to him by a source we never expected.

Del Shannon's imaginative story, appreciation for the powers of family and the desire of young boys to both escape reality and prove themselves within it, and fast-paced, adventure-filled storytelling style make this a book with wide appeal for readers of all ages.
What Stephanie Thinks: I breezed through this action-packed, humorous, yet in the end, compelling and completely satisfying novel and think that all readers, not just the middle-grade audience, will be able to enjoy it. Kevin's Point of View revolves around 12-year-old Kevin and his best friend, Tony, who by coincidence, or perhaps by fate, become involved in a lethal chase for the obscure, yet all-powerful Influxitron. They embark on a whirlwind of an adventure, aiming to both escape the villains after the strange device and ultimately, after Kevin and Tony's lives, as well as figure out how exactly it works and how it can help them.

The basis of the storyline is pretty morbid. Kevin, who's perfectly intelligent and competent a boy, has been plagued by hallucinations ever since the passing of his father a year ago. One might think he's just acting immaturely for his age, but we soon figure out why he zones out every once in a while, which shows just how deep and self-aware a character Kevin is.

When the power of time travel, the Influxitron, falls into his hands, he flirts with an idea, something he know can only remain an idea, but something he will, with the help of his imagination and friends, die trying to attempt. There's one catch though: someone else is after the Influxitron, and they just might be even more desperate than Kevin is... desperate enough to kill.

While a story that encompasses a sixth grader as a protagonist might be expected to target a younger audience (ages 7-11), I think a slightly older range of kids will enjoy this one too, thanks to Shannon's relatively sophisticated voice and the book's more mature themes, including the death of a parent, the line between mental illness and imagination, death threats, and some potentially frightening combat scenes. So I would recommend this maybe even to children up to the age of 13. Then there are readers like me (aka readers who will forever be children), who will appreciate Kevin's Point of View no matter the age restriction because of its fast pace and suspense, its subtle and often not-so-subtle humor, as well as its ultimately touching moral.

Even though I enjoyed this book, it's not one I personally can rave on and on about. For me, the reason it doesn't stick is because it lacks characterization. Kevin's mind is deeply probed, and he became a character I really liked, but the supporting characters, I would liked to have seen more from. Kevin's Point of View is a fun, fast read, with a vigor and rush that many children's books struggle to embrace, but all in all, it didn't have enough substance for me.

But is it a children's novel I suggest? Absolutely. Sit down with this one—you won't regret it! Another thing I love is the ending. Usually kiddie story happy endings can be annoying, a little too ideal, but this one was appropriate for its predicament. The little conflicts that are brought up in the midst of the book all tied together in the end perfectly, which is very creative and cunning on Shannon's part. If you or your child are looking for an easy, comical read about a troubled, but determined boy who gets mixed up in a wild journey in which he wreaks all sorts of havoc, but also finds his true calling, check out Kevin's Point of View; I guarantee you'll be in for a thrill.

Stephanie Loves: "'Give me the gun,' Kennedy demanded. 'You couldn't hit water if you fell out of a boat.'" — LOL

Radical Rating: 8 hearts: An engaging read; highly recommended. ♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥

UPDATE: The author has completely reformatted the book, to try and submit it to a bighouse publisher. Both the cover and title have been changed. Here's the second edition of Kevin's Point of View, now called Captain Disaster Book One: The Influxitron:
Honestly I like the first edition's cover and title better. The new cover is well-drawn and accurate to the context of the book (unlike some books whose covers are annoyingly irrelevant to their texts), but it's kind of tacky. Maybe 9-year-old boys would like it, but it wouldn't propel me to read it any more, that's for sure. I like the title, Kevin's Point of View better too, it's so much more original! But I guess the new title does indicate better the series aspect to Kevin's saga. It's all for marketing—I'm sure the audience this book actually aims to will appreciate the second edition better than I do. What do you think? Either way, best of luck to Del Shannon in his newest endeavor!