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For Readers Age approx. 14+
Grades 10+
 

Solid - Review
< Back to reviews for ages 14+>

Publisher's Summary:

Workinger, Shelley. (2010). Solid. Published by CreateSpace. ISBN: 1-453-62482-1. Author recommended age Tweens & Teens: Litland.com recommends ages 14+ due to sexual references.  

Publisher's Description:

Eighteen years ago, a rogue Army doctor secretly experimented with a chromosomal drug on unknowing pregnant women. Almost two decades later, the newly self-proclaimed "open-book" military unearths the truth about the experiment, bringing Clio Kaid and the other affected teens to a state-of-the-art, isolated campus. While exploring her own special ability, forging new friendships and embarking on first love, Clio also stumbles onto information indicating that the military may not have been entirely forthcoming with them and that all may not be as it seems.

   

Respect for self and others: This includes integrity (adherence to a code of conduct or value system), honesty vs. manipulation or lying, compassion, caring for others (characters not focused on getting their way no matter what) self respect--main character does not let others denigrate him or her; use of self control and self-discipline ; taking charge of own behaviour; fairness to others (such as taking turns and avoiding the blame game). Reader should ask themselves “How does the protagonist depict their peers?” “Would you want others to treat you this way? Should everyone act this way?” This includes true friendships that do not involve regular lying, deceit or manipulation; considering consequences of actions prior to acting; owning up to responsibility once an action has been taken.
 

All of the characters in the story are extremely believable yet demonstrate how to imperfectly be good friends and good citizens. Clio’s defense mechanism might be sarcasm, but it’s never taken to the point of villainy and she corrects herself when wrong; for example: “I felt guilty for my unwarranted judgment and knew we were going to be fast friends.” 

We also see self-discipline, such as eating somewhat healthy and getting sleep when exhausted. Perhaps more important than physical discipline is emotional discipline at an age when that is often lacking. She has every opportunity to attempt to “outdo” the other girls to gain attention of the boys that she finds attractive, particularly Jack. Instead, she remains focused on her tasks at hand (and it is clear her thoughts are all on Jack so much discipline is demonstrated!).  The absence of vixen-like behavior common in kids entertainment today is refreshing; we have a protagonist of strong character. 

Clio is a caring person too, showing some remorse when pre-judging Miranda and not being as accepting of her as she should. She recognizes Miranda as a good person deep down and the need to tolerate her somewhat abrasive behaviour. And the full group of friends feel remorse for how they avoided Alexis.  

Adherence to abstinence is a form of self-respect, and it is uncovered early in the story that the girls abstain. This then permits the reader to assume that, while the girls may be boy crazy, they are disciplined enough to sleep alone at night in their own beds as they should be.


Portrayal of Authority figures: The positive portrayal of parents, teachers, police officers and other “good” authority figures common in a child’s life is a positive influence upon the child’s own moral development. This includes actively-parenting mother and father figures. Minimization of parental involvement in the character’s activities or the portrayal of authority figures as inferior present poor role models. Also to be avoided are main characters that deceive parents and teachers to accomplish goals, and overuse sarcasm towards authority figures. Ask yourself “Are parents seen as positive or negative influence in the character's life?”
 

Let’s face it: it is a high school camp that exists merely to serve a genetically-special group of 17-year-olds. And a military operation at that. Typical children’s entertainment would explode with negative portrayals of the numerous authority figures. This story is refreshing in that it doesn’t lower itself to demeaning behavior. The teens are genuine without narcissism or meanness. Example of Clio talking with Colonel Clark: “I didn’t want to come off as rude and sarcastic when he seemed to be trying hard to speak to me like an intelligent human being...”. Meanwhile, Clio is told to call her mom the first night and let her know she’s ok, and Clio does so willingly rather than balking at it. Typical kids entertainment portrays the of manipulation of bumbling parents by their children. The absence of this in Solid also brings an absence of lying and disrespect too. Thus these characters show respect for their all authority figures but in a realistic way, true to their nature.


Citizenship and Patriotism: Loyalty to family, team or group, school, community and world; caring for and being considerate of these groups. Pride to be part of that group or nationality.
 

Clio’s bond with her mother is clearly strong. There is frequent mention of her mother, right down to the love they share of mocha lattes. Each character who has lost a parent takes pride in that parent’s courage. So courage should not be lost as an underlying theme here too. And all the main characters have a strong relationship with their parents. Some more problematic than others, but loving and respectful nonetheless. The friends show loyalty to one another as well, such as when Clio wishes to defend Bliss against Miranda’s tyrant. They work out differences and bond as a group, yet can still allow Alexis to become “one of them” too so they remain open to new friends. Thus they are not a clique but, rather, a real team. But, being a story about an Army experiment on military brats born post-gulf war, ultimately it is good ol’ fashioned patriotism spun in a modern sense that springs forth from this story. It begins early on when Colonel Clark demonstrates the loyalty of a good soldier who has promised a dying compadre that he would take care of his family. Such a promise between military brothers is lifelong. Not really touched upon in the story, this camp for high school kids could just as easily have nothing to do with the military because, while the rituals and routine of military life are alluded to, the emotional involvement isn’t explored during the bulk of the story. This is not unexpected since the Army is more of the setting than a major theme to the story. It is all brought back full circle with patriotism at the end, however, and the point is made with appropriate strength.


Justice and Balance: A just distribution between good and evil (with good outweighing evil in the presence of the storyline); demonstration of right and wrong; making decisions to enact the above values rather than simply choosing from two bad possibilities; Ask yourself “Is the emphasis on the positive elements or negative?”

 

Somewhat reminiscent of classic tales of good guys vs. bad guys, like a movie from the 1970’s, Clio and crew are faced with a little sleuthing to figure out just who the bad guys are. With the exception of the making-out scene (ch. 13), right and wrong behavior is made clear throughout the story, aided by both Clio’s remorse (mentioned above) and that actions other friends take when they’ve done wrong. Because the main characters are innately good, and so hope to be/do good, their actions result in situations that have options to choose right or wrong. Thus, the storyline is written with the intent of good prevailing and being sufficiently significant to outweigh evil without suffocating it.


Aesthetic aspects Of life ExperienceLook for a storyline portrayal of beauty, health, and selfless love vs. hedonistic behaviours (sexuality, selfishness, obsessiveness, materialism), profanity, gore and violence. Are nature and environment respected or exploited? Look for dark elements; watch out for humor that is negative, denigrates others excessively, uses metaphors to denigrate the sacred.
 

Although often not necessary to the story, the depictions of the setting are quite realistic and not overdone, so the reader can place themselves mentally in the scene. There is subtle humor throughout that really makes it a light and enjoyable read, such as: “I’d never been a negative person, but sarcastic thoughts always seemed to win the word race out of my mouth.” or a more typical teen reflection: “In truth, I’d been pretty biologically fortunate up to this point – not the first or last in my grade to get boobs, dark red hair nowhere near the shade of any root vegetable, ...”. So the humor is positive while being realistic. The story has dual themes of suspense/action and romance. The action is fast paced without unnecessary gore or violence; acceptable to most ages. The romance is addressed appropriately at the emotional level with only one digression into physical action (see below). Other sexual references explained below. Do note the prologue opens with a scientist conducting experiments on lab animals. Some younger readers might find the notion of this offensive, although no harm is done to the animals and description is quite minimal so handled quite well.



Other things to Consider:Other aspects of this book of interest or importance. For example, does it portray Wiccan practices and accurate use of tools of which some parents might object, does it contain hidden meanings in metaphors that may prove offensive to some families; does it address personal issues such as puberty or pregnancy.
 

Very occasional slang common to the age such as piss, load of crap, boobs; one use of damn, smart-ass, jackass, badass.

The characters are older teens in high school, so expect them to be attracted to the opposite sex (judging who is sexually “hot”) and the girls are boy crazy. Some aspects are more direct, such as when Clio and Jack meet Garrett for the first time, who responds “And I think you two rolling in spaghetti would be hot.” Clio’s self-talk reacts “Pervy, but funny – he could grow on me.” Although later we hear the girls’ support for their own chaste lifestyles, and seem to distinguish the wisdom gained from that choice, chapter 13 ends in a Harlequin-style make-out encounter with the amount of detail similar to an old movie where we see her draw his hand between her breasts but go no further. The difference between this story and the old movies is that these are kids, and in the old movies they were adults.

Unnecessary sexual references such as Garrett’s ““Guess the old dude likes to get his rocks off in the comfort of his own digs.” He finished with a little bow-chick-a-bow-wow beatbox tribute to vintage adult cinema.” referring to porn. Although the conversation pertained to whether Colonel Clark was interested in Clio for inappropriate reasons (pedaphile), there were other choices of how to portray Garrett’s crude personality and the situation at hand. Adult cinema = porn. This leaves one of the male “heroes” talking regularly with crude sexual references assuming an awareness of porn by the child reader, and unnecessarily aligning it subconsciously with a hero in the story. Given that porn addiction, child pornography, and human trafficking have exploded worldwide, Litland.com objects to sexual references in children’s literature as it desensitizes the child to the sacredness of the human being. We particularly object when it is portrayed as the behaviour of the good guys, which it is not.

With these exceptions, the book is well written and quite enjoyable!

 

So what do YOU think? Read our thoughts on the book and join in the discussion: Litland's Blog   


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