Dads, Geeks and Blue Haired Freaks by Ellie Phillips

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Dads, Geeks and Blue Haired Freaks by Ellie Phillips
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Genre: Teens
Rating: 3/5
Reviewer: Robert James
Reviewed by Robert James
Summary: An interesting premise is spoilt by an unlikeable central character and too much irritating text speak.
Buy? No Borrow? Maybe
Pages: 288 Date: June 2012
Publisher: Electric Monkey
ISBN: 9781405258197

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Sadie Nathanson is stunned to get a card from her dad on her fifteenth birthday. Not only has she never met her dad, but to all intents and purposes he doesn't even exist. He was a sperm donor, that's all. In view of this, it's fairly obvious that the card is a mean joke, probably played by her ex-best friend Shonna Matthews. But it makes her start to think about her dad a bit more, and she decides to track him down.

This is being advertised as one of the first teen books to tackle sperm donation, and it's great to see a really original contemporary book come out. It has its merits, notably in at least a couple of funny scenes, one involving Sadie and her cousin meeting a talent shot judge who seems to owe a fair bit to Simon Cowell, and a hilarious one in which her mum phones her bank to complain about something and ends up exchanging parenting advice with the man who answers as Sadie listens and fumes. It's also great to see some very well-handled adult characters, particularly Sadie's Uncle Ze, who's lovely.

Sadly, there were too many things dragging the book down for me to recommend it overall. As good as the adult characters were, I found Sadie to be boring and not particularly likeable and her love interest to be incredibly bland. I also found it hard to read parts of the book, with the main culprits being online chats to a friend. These are reasonably few and far between, but the text-speak used in them drove me crazy. (Even worse is a text message Sadie sent, which I had to read six times before understanding what it meant!)

Finally, the sub-plots of Sadie being bullied and her budding romance are both slight enough storylines that they feel a bit tacked on, taking away from the search for her father needlessly. I think Ellie Phillips has definite potential as an author, as shown by her great characterisations of adults and the good scenes I mentioned, but doesn't realise it in this book.

For a recent contemporary about the search for a parent, Someone Else's Life by Katie Dale is well worth reading.

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