Book One of the Twisted Lit series
By Kim Askew and Amy Helmes
Available now from Merit Press
TEMPESTUOUS is the first book in the Twisted Lit series, modern interpretations of Shakespeare's plays by young adult debut authors Kim Askew and Amy Helmes, edited by bestseller Jacquelyn Mitchard. TEMPESTUOUS is a very loose re-imagining of The Tempest. There is a character named Miranda, in a sort of exile, and one named Ariel, sort of trapped by her guardian, and the characters are removed from civilization due to a storm. But in TEMPESTUOUS they're stuck in the mall by a fierce blizzard.
(And yes, I did believe the mall would be open. Mostly because I've worked in a mall during a tropical storm. The store's only concession to the inclement weather was putting more umbrellas and galoshes on the floor since they were more likely to be sold.)
Miranda is working at the name-changed-for-fiction Hot Dog on a Stick in order to earn back the money she owes her fancy private school due to a tutoring scheme that went horribly awry. Unfortunately the snow traps her with her ex-boyfriend and ex-friends as well as her coworkers. She likes some of them, like Ariel, a sweet, goofy girl who happens to be celebrating her birthday. Others, like sarcastic Caleb, she isn't too big on. She and him just too alike to immediately become friends.
That would be enough set up for drama, but Askew and Helmes throw another wrench in the works. The teens are trapped in the mall with an armed robber. I kind of liked that it took awhile for the danger to sink in. Everyone assumes the guy already left, plus there's an entire mall to play with! It's not until someone gets hurt that Miranda turns her full attention to catching the thief.
I thought TEMPESTUOUS was a great deal of fun. It's a short novel, less than two hundred pages, so there isn't a lot of padding. I liked how the mystery and romance were balanced - there's enough flirting and interaction to make it believable, but it's the mystery that drives the plot and takes most of the characters' focus. I also liked that Askew and Helmes managed a great deal of characterization - even mean girls Britney and Whitney get some vulnerable moments. Miranda herself can be overbearing and too quick to resort to manipulation, but she can come up with a good plan on the fly and she has a knack for leadership.
TEMPESTUOUS may not be Shakespeare, but that's not a bad thing. (Don't worry Shakespeare geeks, there are plenty of allusions to keep you engaged with the Bard.) What it is is a quick, appealing read full of teen drama, a bit of action, a hint of danger, a dash of romance, and a couple of epic pranks. I liked it so much that I started reading EXPOSURE, the second Twisted Lit title, as soon as I finished.