________________ CM . . . . Volume XVII Number 37 . . . . May 27, 2011


The Oracle Rebounds.

Allison van Diepen.
Don Mills, ON: Harlequin Teen, 2010.
250 pp., pbk., $11.99.
ISBN 978-0-373-21021-3.

Grades 9-12 / Ages 14-17.

Review by Jan Sahibzada.

** /4



I grab a calculator. Jared and I were together for five months, three weeks and two days, for a total of 173 days. 173 divided by 8 is 22. He dumped me, so I add 30 days. I add another 30 days because, damn it, I have fantasized about getting back together. Do I believe it's for the best? No!

Total number of days before I can start dating someone else: 82. No way!

Maybe I should reconsider my answers. Did he really dump me? Undoubtedly. Do I fantasize about getting back together? Yes. Is it for the best? Ha! That's where I put the wrong answer. If Jared wanted to break up then, of course, it's for the best. It can't be anything but for the best. I should have answered yes.

I subtract 20, which leaves my total at 62 days.

62 days—that's two months! That means I won't be able to date anyone until the middle of May. What was I thinking when I made up the equation? I'm sixteen; I don't have two months to waste!

Of course, I don't have to take my own advice.

In The Oracle of Dating, readers were introduced to 16-year-old Kayla. The Oracle Rebounds, the second book in the series, picks up right where The Oracle of Dating left off. Kayla is still dishing out relationship advice on her website, the Oracle of Dating, and things with her boyfriend Jared are going well. Or that's what Kayla thought until Jared suddenly breaks up with her. Despite all her experience and relationship knowledge, Kayla is completely blindsided by the breakup. Now, Kayla is left to figure out the rules of breakups and find a way to get over Jared, even if it is in the arms of another boy.

      The first book, The Oracle of Dating, was a quick, light and, for the most part, an enjoyable read, but it had its drawbacks and faults. Those faults are magnified in The Oracle Rebounds, and, as a result, the novel isn't successful. As in the first book, readers will like reading about Kayla. She is interesting enough as the main character. However, she is not enough to make the novel engaging because the other characters and plot are weak.

      One big plot fault of the novel is the introduction of Benoit, the French exchange student who spends two weeks in New York with Kayla and her family. Benoit is pretty ridiculously portrayed as the suave, seductive French teenager who lives up to a number of stereotypes. He is confused by Americans spending so much money on designer labels, he reads Aristotle but isn't a fan of Ayn Rand, and he's never heard the term Brangelina, but passed Johnny Depp once in Touluse. Benoit just doesn't come off as an authentic teenager, regardless of his status as a foreign exchange student. It would have been more realistic if Benoit was simply a good looking foreign exchange student with whom Kayla rebounds, but without all the exaggerated character traits and interests. Benoit is only in the book briefly, but it's enough to challenge the credibility of the novel.

      What was missing from The Oracle Rebounds, that was in the first book, were the scenes of Kayla just hanging out with her friends, watching TV or hanging out at the mall. This is where readers got to see how Kayla developed her understanding of relationships and also where readers got insight into Kayla's thoughts or emotions. The few times in the book where they did hang out were more dialogue than reflection by Kayla, and there were only two short instances where the group of friends hung out together, once at the beginning of the book and once at the end. Sleepovers and mall days are rites of passage for teenage girls and were one of the engaging pieces of the first novel. Without them, The Oracle of Rebounds has very little to engage readers, especially teen girls.

      There are fewer instances of underage drinking and reckless behaviour by Kayla and her friends in The Oracle Rebounds. When there was reckless behaviour, there were consequences, a change from the first novel. Kayla even blogs about the dangers of sexting and becoming vulnerable as a result of drugs and alcohol. Also, there is sufficient review of the events from that the two books don't need to be read sequentially. Overall, readers of The Oracle of Dating may still find The Oracle Rebounds worth reading, but the casual reader would be left wanting more.

Recommended with reservations.

Jan Sahibzada is a Community Outreach Librarian for Calgary Public Library's Forest Lawn branch.

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

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