September 27, 2012

Review: Zip

Book Cover By Ellie Rollins
Available now from Razorbill (Penguin)
Review copy

Ellie Rollins had an absolutely brilliant idea for her first novel.  ZIP is a retelling of THE ODYSSEY with a young girl as the heroine, struggling to get from Kirkland, Washington to Austin, Texas on a scooter in order to save her childhood home.

Lyssa grew up in the Texas Talent Show, where her mother was a star.  Ana brought magic into Lyssa's life - into the lives of everyone she met - onstage and off.  But now she's dead, and Lyssa can't find her mother's magic.  She likes her stepfather Michael, but doesn't like all the changes in her life.  She's also in denial about her mother's death.  Then she finds out that her home, which had been donated to the community, is going to be torn down but the Texas Talent Show is reuniting to protest.  She decides she's going to travel and perform with her made family.

ZIP is a magical journey that will appeal to children with big imaginations.  (And it will definitely help out when they're expected to read Homer during high school and college!)  I loved how Lyssa gets to know a variety of people throughout America, some who are helpful and some who aren't.  There's a strong thread of optimism in ZIP, but it never quite ignores that what Lyssa is doing is dangerous.

As a former resident of Austin, I absolutely loved the ending.  Lyssa lives in an exaggerated version of the real world, but her Austin sure seemed like my Austin.  ZIP isn't the kind of book where you demand things be plausible, but I think the climax was both plausible and a fitting fairytale-perfect resolution.

If you're looking for a good book for an elementary school student, I direct you to ZIP.  Rollins debut will appeal to fans of Roald Dahl and other writers of fantastical adventures.


  1. That is an idea, especially as it also turns poetry into prose, a sort of second option. You've made a good point about it being a retelling, any (interesting) help that could aid children in liking what they might later consider a dull work is surely worth it's weight in gold in our current non-book time. I like the sound of it!

    1. It could at least be a lead in to the Wishbone version of The Odyssey! But it's a good story on its own.

  2. I like that it changes into a girl being the lead character - seems like a great read. While I may not be the target audience for this book, I have read The Odyssey and do love Roald Dahl so I might have to look at this one some time. Thanks for reviewing it.

    1. I hope you do enjoy it if you pick it up! Or maybe there's a kid in your life who would like it.

  3. I like the sound of this one! I'm not familiar with Texas, but a middle grade retelling of the Odyssey sounds pretty awesome. And I'm from Seattle (just south of Kirkland), so I'm sure I'd recognize a few things in the journey. Thanks for sharing!

    1. It is a really cool way to retell the epic.

      Haha, I had no clue where Kirkland was. But it's always a little special to read about places you know.


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