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Book Review: Tempestuous by Kim Askew and Amy Helmes

“Who cares what they’re doing as long as they’re at the other end of the mall?” Ariel seemed unperturbed. “We’re just in here for the night. What do we need with all that stuff, anyway?”

“Don’t you get it?” Derek answered. “We don’t know what’s happening out there with the storm. we could be snowed in here for days. What if we lose power/ This could turn into a survival game.:
“See?” I said to Caleb chidingly.

“It’s war. You’re involved now whether you want to be or not.”

“wait a sec,” Chad said, “before we get ahead of ourselves. . . Don’t we have bigger things to worry about? Like  oh, I don’t know. . . the computer store thief?”

“What about him?” I said with a shrug.

“They aren’t even real,” Caleb said. “We sell some just like those at Got Games.”

“Oh, they’re real,” Troy said.

“If they’re so real, how come I know the trick to get out of them?” Caleb said.
He twisted his wrist a few times even though it was clear there was no way he’d be able to get his arm out of them. He looked confused. I yanked back on my end of the handcuff.

Troy stuck his hand in his back pocket, this his front pockets.

“I. . . what the hell?. . . I can’t find the key. It was in my pocket,” he said. Caleb and I both looked at him expectantly, our irritation growing. “I’m serious.
He looked around the ground at his feet and everyone else did, too, but the key was nowhere to be found. Just brilliant. Brian, Rachel, and the Itneys were going all Lord of the Flies on us, a potentially armed criminal might or might not be somewhere in the mall, and Caleb and I were handcuffed together. What more could go wrong?


Forced into the pits of loserdom of working the mall food court to pay restitution for her crimes (and others as well), Miranda Prospero (sound familiar, English majors? Think very loosely of The Tempest) is trying to figure out how to survive the last few months of her senior year without gathering more attention from her former crowd, the Itneys. Yet life has other plans- in the form of a blizzard that shuts down the mall before Miranda, her co-worker Ariel, her ex Brian, her former BFFs Rachel, Whitney, and Britney,and other mall workers and mall rats can get home, and oh, yea- the THIEF who starts smashing and grabbing stores.  The preps and the nots set up camps at opposed ends of the mall, and Miranda sees her perfect chance for revenge- even while handcuffed to Caleb. Yet will Miranda discover herself or be focused on her revenge- and what about the thief?  

Tempestuous is the first of the author’s Twisted Lit series, and is extremely loosely based on The Tempest by Shakespeare- a few similar characters, everyone stranded together, a lot of learning about human nature.  It is a very fun and fast mystery, with a lot to hold readers and keep them immersed in the story.  There’s Miranda and her story, with not only her ex-friends and new friends, but Caleb and his backstory, Ariel and her growth; and a bit of fleshing out of secondary and third characters.  The mystery of the mall thief is a nice twist as well, as you’re not quite sure who it will be when people keep going in and out of the story line.  Definitely an entertaining read, one that I would pair with books by Louise Rennison or Rachel Cohn for the humor quotient.  3.5 out of 5 stars.

 SPOILER SPACE

I really enjoyed Tempestuous, it was amusing and catchy, and kept my interest throughout the book. I got invested in what would happen next- what would Miranda and Ariel do, and how would things progress between Miranda and Caleb, especially with the twists between the different cliques.  Askew and Helmes built a world could have come off as extremely superficial- instead, you could see how everyone fit in. And the reactions to the pranks and situations are not typical- the Itneys (Miranda’s old clique) react very different than what you expect to Miranda’s detailed revenge plans (including bunnies, henna, and hair dye gone rampant), and Ariel turns the tables on Miranda more than once.

Those that are expecting a hard mystery should look elsewhere- the focus is more on the development of character and discovering one’s self rather than finding the thief, although everything is neatly solved by the end.  It’s interwoven- don’t get me wrong, and adds tension, but it’s not a major focus point within the story until the last quarter of the book.
Tempestuous is the first of the Twisted Lit series, and part of the Merit Press new YA releases.  It has received an average of 4.06 stars on Goodreads (I am a hard grader, I admit) as of January 3, and was released on December 18, 2012.  ISBN: 9781440552649.