The Mitochondrial Curiosities of Marcels 1-19 by Jocelyn Brown

Saturday, July 25, 2009

The back cover blurb: Biology is not Dree's thing. Equally heinous are English, Social Studies, her sister and mother, not to mention Edmonton in general. Toronto is where she belongs — specifically the upcoming Renegade Craft Fair.

Mercifully, escape is imminent: on her fifteenth birthday, she will get the special fund her father promised, and the day after that, she'll be on WestJet Flight 233 to Toronto. Instead, her dad has a fatal heart attack, and all she finds are clues leading to the ominous Alberta Psychiatric Hospital where her parents once worked.

Along the way: two fires, a family scandal, nineteen sassy sock creatures named Marcel, a new friend, a mystery, a stepmother who's maybe sympathetic after all, the unceasing misery of school and the search for a proper way to grieve a father.

This was such an interesting, funny book; eccentric, artsy Dree makes for a fabulous narrator, and the troubles she gets into, the family - philanthropic and gifted younger sister Paige, deceased father Leonard who loved treasure hunts, Grandma working at a psychiatric hospital - and even the settings, made for an engaging, brilliantly different story.

Only a couple of small things bothered me: It felt like a fairly short novel, but it packs a really interesting plotline, and I think it finished too quickly - sometimes the story rushed along a little quickly and I lost track. The OMGs felt a little bit forced; I think the author would have had the true voice of a teenage girl down pat even without making her say OMG all the time.

Apart from those two small things, I loved how unique this novel was - a father dying is a common enough premise in a teen novel, but with such a fabulous protagonist and intriguing storyline - with hidden secrets, two fires and a slightly odd family - it was totally unlike any other YA novel I've read.

I love the cover - I think it's the first time I've seen a sock puppet on the cover of a teen book. This is the publisher, Coach House's, first YA novel, and I really thing the author has done a brilliant job.

I loved the inclusion of craft projects in the book (some of which you can find on Dree's blog), accompanied by cute illustrations like these:

There were so many lines I wanted to write down and save for later, so many funny things. I adored Dree's creatures made of baby socks - Marcels 1-19 - and her honest, chatty, sometimes rambling voice made the book.

Overall, I thought this was a lovely novel, that'll really appeal to people with a quirky sense of humour, even if you aren't a fan of crafts.

You can get it on Amazon.
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