Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Book review - The Capybara Conspiracy

Title: The Capybara Conspiracy
Author: Erica S. Perl
Genre: humor
Similar books: The Secrets to Ruling School by Neil Swaab
                     Desmond Pucket Makes Monster Magic by Mark Tatulli
Kind of a cute and clever novelty

Summary (provided by publisher): Fans of Tim Federle and Louis Sachar will love this hilarious story of what happens when the non-jocks kidnap their sports-obsessed school’s beloved mascot.
Seventh-grade playwright Olive Henry is frustrated by her middle school’s lack of appreciation for anything but sports. While the principal drones on and on during morning announcements about the sports teams’ victories, all non-athletic club meetings are relegated to the school basement, never to be mentioned on the loudspeaker. So Olive and her best friend, Reynaldo, hatch a plan to kidnap the school’s capybara mascot, planning to return it, heroically, just in time for the school’s pep rally and claim a reward: permission for their drama club to practice in the auditorium. And, hopefully, some overdue respect for the school’s non-athletes. But when an animal-rights student activist and an undercover athlete with murky motivations join in the conspiracy, their plans—along with Cappy the capybara—veer wildly out of Olive’s control.  

My opinion: This is certainly an unusual book. Presented as a script, Olive explains the plot to steal the school's mascot and how this landed her at the principal's office. The script format relies heavily on dialogue, of course, but that dialogue is a real strength here. While the characters are presented as more caricatures than real people, this adds to the school play feel of the novel. This same element, though, lends a heavy dose of distance and unreality to an already hard to believe plot. Humor and a strong sense of pacing help it along. Entertaining enough for a single read.
Advance Reader Copy provided by NetGalley.

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