Sarah's Stars

Lauren McLaughlin. Cycler
Random House $20.99  ISBN 978-0-375-85191-9  256 pg.
Reviewed by Lindsey, Age 15

"I am all girl."

I say it because my body is betraying me.

In my dream, the colorful autumn day becomes night. The Ferris wheel speeds up, breaks free of its foundation and rolls through the darkened woods. Shearing tree branches with loud splintery crunches, it rolls toward the black lake at the edge of the tree line.

From deep within me, behind organs, beneath muscles, a jagged pain is born.

"I am all girl!"

At first glance, Jill seems like your average high school girl. She is obsessed with mysterious new boy, Tommy Knutson, has a plethora of shampoos and lotions stocked in her bathroom and her and her best friend Ramie are designing the perfect prom night complete with a stunning dress. But Jill has a secret. Every "cycle" when Jill's hormones start to act up, she undergoes a grotesque transformation from girl to boy. Previously it had just been Jill in a boy's body. But now that boy's body is developing a mind of his own. A mind named Jack. A mind who's deeply, madly in love with Ramie...

Cycler seems a bit unapproachable at first, in the fact the cover looks more Playboy material than your average YA novel and for the most part, the book itself was rather disappointingly smutty. If you can get past the contrived inappropriate scenes I still think the story was mediocre at best. Sure Jack's life is unfair and he should be able to leave the house but that doesn't take away from the fact that he's a total jerk. And yes, Jill's predicament is taking over her life but as the story wears on, she becomes increasingly shallow. The two antiheros remain disappointingly static throughout the remainder of the story and while there were a few key shining moments, Cycler will not be on the top of the list of incredible YA books geared towards girls anytime soon. It has potential definitely, but unfortunately the story falls short of the impact it really could have had in the mind of this reader. Perhaps a sequel will expand upon Lauren McLaughlin's ideas in a less blindingly sexual way.

I give Lauren McLaughlin's Cycler three out of five stars.


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