Publication date: April 8th, 2014
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | The Book Depository
Witty, sarcastic Ethan and his three friends decide to take down the reality TV show, For Art's Sake, that is being filmed at their high school, the esteemed Selwyn Arts Academy, where each student is more talented than the next. While studying Ezra Pound in English class, the friends are inspired to write a vigilante long poem and distribute it to the student body, detailing the evils of For Art's Sake. But then Luke—the creative force behind the poem and leader of the anti-show movement—becomes a contestant on the nefarious show. It's up to Ethan, his two remaining best friends, and a heroic gerbil named Baconnaise to save their school. Along the way, they'll discover a web of secrets and corruption involving the principal, vice principal, and even their favorite teacher.
The Vigilante Poets of Selwyn Academy has got to be the most enjoyable Young Adult book I've read in a while! I read this book way back in January, and if I hadn't been on an unofficial-hiatus I would've reviewed it right away. A lot of "reality show" based books end up wearing thin, but not this one.
The Vigilante Poets...(don't you love the title?) is about Ethan Andrezejczak who is witty, sarcastic, perfectly likable and hung up on ballerina Maura, the poster girl for Unattainable. Throw in a reality show their artsy unconventional school is the center of, an inspiring English teacher who introduces them to Ezra Pound's Cantos, the realisation that the show is ruining everything their school stands for and a creative rebellion is underway. There's plenty of genuine wit, solid characters, betrayals, a gerbil you will dote on and anti-climatic romantic twists to make this story epic and memorable.
The best part? The ride is smooth. The writing is both charming and intelligent; and at no point does the plot pause. At no point are there Reflections or a pointless elaboration of angst. What we get of the show and the anti-show-movement are mere commercial-break-infused snippets. What we get of the characters, whether it's Ethan and his friends, his adorable twin sisters or even the elusive Maura, is brilliant. They grow on you, they fill you in on insights about themselves that surprise you just as much; but they never pause on it!
This book is a smart, snappy, insightful and colourful laugh-riot that reminds you of, but surpasses by a landslide, TV shows like Glee. A work of art by itself that gets the fun-insightful ratio just right, I highly recommend giving this book a shot.