Friday, February 10, 2012

Shotgun Gravy (Atlanta Burns #1) by Chuck Wendig

Shotgun GravyShotgun Gravy by Chuck Wendig

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Atlanta Burns is not quite your typical high school girl. Sure, she has an attitude, like most teenagers. She is bored with school, also like a lot of teenagers. She's also back in town after an "incident" invovling one of her mother's boyfriends and a .410 squirrel gun. Most of her teachers are letting her coast through class without any effort on her part. She's quite happy with that, and wants nothing more than to keep things just the way they are. Or so she thinks.

Atlanta ends up getting in the middle of some serious bullying, first by a trio of teenage thugs against an Hispanic classmate, and then from a group of Neo-Nazis taking aim at a gay high schooler. In the process, Atlanta makes some new friends, and most certainly, some enemies. However, she does still have that shotgun...

That's just the bare bones of this story. Is it YA? Probably, although there are some very dark elements here. It's not really a happy story, even if the conflicts are mostly resolved by the end. A lot of what happens in the story does happen in real life and Wendig does not shy away from it. Teens go through a lot of this stuff every day, and the events are handled in a gritty, realistic manner.

The real stars of the book are the characters. They shine, not because they are "good," but because they are real. Atlanta is tough, mouthy, and not afraid of anyone or anything. She also proves that she has feelings, even if they are drawn out of her reluctantly. The other main characters are equally well- written.

Shotgun Gravy is a novella, and so it is a fairly quick read. Pacing is good, there is drama, tension, and action, and is easy to finish in a single sitting. But when you do, you will end up wishing it were longer. Or that the sequel, Bait Dog, was already out. It's that good.

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