Monday, February 15, 2016

Fumbling Through Fantasy: Savvy by Ingrid Law (2008)

Mississippi "Mibs" Beaumont and her siblings are different from other kids. In their family, when a child becomes a teenager, he or she develops a savvy, a supernatural power that enables them to do things like control the weather, capture radiowaves, or move mountains. When their father is seriously hurt in an accident on the day before Mibs's thirteenth birthday, her savvy is all but forgotten by the rest of her family. When she wakes up on her birthday, she is convinced that her savvy will be something that can save her dad from his coma. It is only after she runs away, taking along two of her siblings and the local preacher's kids, and hitching a ride in a Bible salesman's bus, that she realizes perhaps she has misunderstood what her new power actually is.

This is one of the books I most wanted to read when I started this project, but I'm sorry to have wasted my time. Despite being over 300 pages long, this book has absolutely nothing to say. The characters and their savvies are not particularly interesting, and though the father is obviously in serious condition, I felt none of the kids' urgency for saving him. The writing is almost completely devoid of real emotion; rather, everything feels manufactured and forced. It is appalling to me that this was a Newbery Honor book (in 2009, the year that The Graveyard Book received the Medal.) I just can't imagine a room full of people loving such a bland and disappointing story. I can usually recognize the merit in a Newbery book, even if I don't like it. I see absolutely nothing in this book, and it truly puzzles me to see so many positive reviews of it on other sites.

A Tangle of Knots and the Quirks series both have very similar premises to Savvy, and both are infinitely better written and more satisfying. Kids who are interested in reading about everyday kids with extraordinary powers would do better to look for these alternate titles and avoid Savvy altogether. Ingrid Law may have introduced the subject matter first, but these other authors do it better, and more memorably.

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