________________ CM . . . . Volume XIV Number 9 . . . .December 21, 2007


Beyond Cool.

Bev Katz Rosenbaum.
New York, NY: Berkley Jam (Distributed in Canada by Penguin), 2007.
214 pp., pbk., $12.59.
ISBN 978-0-425-21563-0.

Subject Heading:
Science fiction.

Grades 7-9 / Ages 12-14.

Review by Joan Marshall.

**½ /4



"Wow, I never noticed how soft your skin was. Is that the Z30?"

I nod. "It was like having a full-body peel. But listen, how serious do you think this thing is?"

She looks at me thoughtfully. After a few seconds, she says, "I think if we can find Simkofsky, you'll be fine. Don't worry, Floe." She leans over to pat my hand. "We'll find him."

"What do you have in mind, oh, brilliant one?"

Tapping her bottom lip again, she says, 'Well." and proceeds to babble on about doing some really sophisticated computer searches, possibly hacking.

"Of course," I say.

"Ooh," she says gleefully, "how fun is this gonna be?"

A ton o' fun, obviously.

And while she's yukking it up at her computer, I'm going to be learning how to hoverdrive. So I won't have to depend on Sunny and Taz to drive me places, and so certain dreadlocked popular guys will stop calling me "kid' all the time. (Not that I'm convinced my knowing how to drive is gonna accomplish miracles.)


In this sequel to I Was a Teenage Popsicle, Floe Ryan, 17, has survived her first year of high school after returning to life from being cryonically frozen. Once again, the Cryonic Centre and its founders are facing problems with thawed patients who seem to be more susceptible to viruses than they should be. Floe and her new genius friend, Sophie, find a brilliant immunologist who solves the virus problem (in a completely unrealistic three days), thus enabling the Centre to cure recently thawed patients and to publicize their work. However, Floe's on-again, off-again love relationship with Taz, another "frozen popsicle," is the real centre of this delightful novel that will appeal to all junior high girls with its insightful, gentle, kind and hilariously funny high school clique angst.

     Rosenbaum has created a strong female character in Floe, whose self-deprecating wit, fierce loyalty to family and friends, and determination to be accepted and fit in set the bar high. In keeping with the centrality of the female protagonist, the secondary male characters, seen from the girls' point of view, are somewhat puzzling. Their viewpoint and actions, especially their pre-occupation with smashball, meet the stereotypes of teenage boys, and their motives are hidden by a fog of misunderstanding that only partially lifts when the characters begin to work on problems together. Floe's nerdy friend, Sophie, lovable, but a social disaster, shows that the real way to boy's heart is through shared interests. Floe's hippie parents, bewildered by technology, are nevertheless loved and protected by Floe.

      The setting is unabashedly Californian beach, but the school scenes could take place in any North American high school. The imaginary technological advances like hoverblades, hologram teachers, hover cars and VR games that deliver pizza to your door are not only plausible but also serve to highlight the power of popular youth culture and will appeal no end to the intended audience.

      Rosenbaum's style is dominated by dialogue so sharp and realistic that it's eerie. Readers will feel right at home with the vocabulary, pace and obsessive emotions that possess teenage girls. The "Ask Floe" column at the end of the book fits right in.

      This funny, irreverent novel will be lapped up by young girls who will no doubt look forward to the next in this series.


Joan Marshall is a Winnipeg, MB, bookseller who vividly remembers how critical it is for high school girls to fit in.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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