Posted on August 2nd, 2013 by pajamapress
“Maclean’s novel in verse has a hypnotic rhythm that pulls readers into the mind of 15-year-old Nix. Formerly known as “Fatty Humbolt,” he is struggling with his crush on Loren Cody, the girlfriend of the best player on the hockey team, and his love-hate relationship with his older sister, Roxy. With her “Vampire Red” hair, endless stream of boyfriends, and rebellious energy, Roxy is the polar opposite of Nix, who likes to fade into the background and thinks it’s hard to talk to anyone, let alone members of the opposite sex. Nix finds solace and self-expression in his woodworking. Then Roxy falls for Bryan Sykes, a popular but notorious cad and politician’s son, and Nix is forced to come out of his shell and find his voice. The poems successfully capture the cadences of modern teenage speech and behavior in unadorned language. The sparse verse also provides the perfect narrative voice to express Nix’s taciturn strength. Readers used to a diet of cliché-ridden YA fiction will enjoy this refreshing take on the teenage plight, and, although the ending is particularly painful and poignant, the hard-won hopefulness of Nix’s growth will linger with them long after the poetry ends.”
Posted on July 15th, 2013 by pajamapress
“A dog, beaten and ignored.
A girl, risking and reckless.
A boy who must step out of his safe-place to save them…
I lived in Newfoundland in early grade school (on a now-closed Air Force base), so I have a strong mental picture of the isolated small coastal town that Roxy longs to escape, where Nix’s solitary ways are known to everyone, where a story can never be untold.
Request this novel-in-verse from your local library or independent bookstore; they might have to order it (Pajama Press is a small Canadian firm, not one of the “Big 5″), but it’s so worth waiting for!
Have you ever felt like the only person who could fix a situation?”
Click here to read the full review – but beware of spoilers!
Posted on February 19th, 2013 by pajamapress
“…In an interview Jill Maclean she said she writes character driven books. She hit the nail on the head with that statement, given the memorable characters she creates here…Nix, Roxy, Bryan, Twig, Chase, Loren and Blue, and Nix’s parents. Set in Newfoundland, this is his story about family, conflict, friendship, death, secrets, a dog and a budding romance. The characters who people the pages are expertly drawn: flawed, remarkable, and redemptive for the most part.
I love them for many reasons…their vulnerability, their strength, their unparalleled concern for others. Well, not Bryan…not at all, but there has to be a villain; or the men who own Twig and treat her so abominably. Sorrow, and an inability to deal with it, tears at the Humboldt family which is stoic, secretive, and who all have reasons for doing what they do…”
Click here to read the full post.
Posted on February 12th, 2013 by pajamapress
“…Nix Minus One shows off Jill MacLean’s characteristic strong plotting that helped win countless awards and nominations for her other books: The Nine Lives of Travis Keating (Fitzhenry & Whiteside, 2008), The Present Tense of Prinny Murphy (Fitzhenry & Whiteside, 2009) and Home Truths (Dancing Cat Books, 2010). She creates characters who would be considered ordinary, i.e., less than perfect, and has them deal with troubling, even tragic circumstances. Roxy, Nix, Blue, and even Mom and Dad, are more reflective of Jill MacLean’s readership than the sterile but beautiful people of popular shows and movies. By making Nix Minus One‘s characters into “real” people who make some wise decisions, some incredibly poor choices and some that fortuitously leave no permanent scars, Jill MacLean fosters understanding and empathy.
I would like to recognize Nix Minus One as Jill MacLean’s first foray into the novels-in-verse genre, heralding a new achievement in writing for her. While her writing is strong and fluid but laced with vulnerability, Nix Minus One demonstrates the one-two punch nature of novels in verse: the author’s word choice and sentence structure are now enhanced with the form of the writing. The structure of the verse can intensify the text, or suggest confusion, weakness or apathy, though Jill MacLean always chooses wisely, never overworking her form or content. So, while the title suggests a subtraction or loss, I believe Nix Minus One demonstrates that Jill MacLean has found the literary means, i.e., free verse, to add to the total experience of one of her stories. As an equation, that would read,
Nix – 1 = Jill MacLean2“
Click here to read the full review.