Buy Kissing Frogs
Special price: $12.99 CAD (Regular price: $16.99 CAD)
Publisher: Fierce Ink Press
Reviewer: Melissa on November 4, 2014
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
Finding Prince Charming sure is hard work. Jessica Stone, a popular high school senior has a secret: despite appearances to the contrary, she used to be a goody two-shoes, all-state spelling bee champ, grade-skipping kind of nerd. After the ultimate makeover and the decision to use her brains to study and imitate the school’s social elite, she rules the school along side her cool new friends and her hottest-guy-in-school boyfriend and plans to head to the beach with them for spring break. That is until her biology teacher tells her that she’s failing and the only chance she has to save her grade (and her chances at going to a good college) is by joining the conservation club in Panama to save the golden frog. In Kissing Frogs, Jess finds herself in a foreign country with a new social crew, including a ghost from her past that could threaten her queen bee reputation. Travis Henley may have grown up, but he still has a thing for childish games, like the request for three non-dates as payment for finding Jess’ ring at the bottom of the pool. While spending time with Travis is the last thing that she wants, Jess agrees…if only to keep him quiet…but she soon begins to realize that there is value in her inner nerd and that one frog may just be her prince in disguise. Set in the lush and tropical local of El Valle de Anton, there’s a very good reason that Alisha Sevigny’s debut YA novel has been called “a smart and funny re-imagining of ‘The Frog Prince’ with an environmental heartbeat.”
When I was asked to participate in the Canadian cover reveal and the blog tour by Fierce Ink Press, there were three things that won me over immediately. First, I thought that the illustrated cover of Kissing Frogs was cute; second, I love fairy tales and fairy tale re-tellings; and finally, I’d never read a re-telling of “The Frog Prince” before. Add in the fact that the novel involved travel to a country in Central America that I haven’t been to yet and it dealt with animal conservation and environmentalism, and I knew I had to not only get the word out about it, but also read it for review. Overall, I’m very glad that I decided to pick up this novel because, much like the cover that represents it, Sevigny gives readers a very cute story that starts off as a girl pretending to be shallow to fit in with the popular crowd but becomes so much more.
At the beginning of the novel, I found Jess to be less than desirable, but over the course of the novel, this changes. Like her friends and boyfriend, she seems only interested in clothes, partying, and sticking with the hottest guy in school, even if that means denying her dreams of college to stick around her home town. Jess’ mother, who isn’t educated herself, encourages her daughter to maintain her new, vacuous and popular persona, complete with a wrinkle prevention regimen that would make more sense if Jess was 20 years older. However, Jess’ father has the opposite opinion as he hopes that Jess can still fulfil her childhood dream of going to Berkley to study sociology. Sevigny gives an interesting look at why Jess’ mom would encourage a below average life for a daughter who once showed such promise, and thus, shows that there’s more to even the secondary characters who have hardly any words devoted to them. Similarly, when it comes to the other teens in the conservation club, Sevigny shows that there is more to them than the geeks that Jess believes them to be. Juan and Harp, in particular, prove to be great friends who accept Jess without question, even when she judges them unfairly, and Travis turns out to be more than Jess believes him to be over the course of their three non-dates. Finally, Chrissy and Kiki are both victims of bullying by Jess’ crew and girls that go out of their way to make it hard for Jess when she ends up in Panama with the conservation club, demonstrating that real-life bullying is complex and usually stems from insecurity on the part of the bully. No matter what character readers scrutinize, they will come away with memorable, three-dimensional, character development.
Beyond the characters, Sevigny offers readers lushly drawn landscapes of her Panamanian setting and a fact-filled exploration of animal conservation and environmentalism that is sure to appeal to anyone from the age of 10 and up. In fact, I know that as a child, I would’ve loved this novel between the ages of 10 and 12, around the time when I became aware of the deforestation of rainforests and became interested in doing my part to reduce my carbon footprint through recycling and other initiatives. While these elements still made it enjoyable for me, at times I found the knowledge dumps from characters, like Juan and Lola, to be a little heavy handed as an adult reader. Perhaps if they had been better spaced out or been discussions amongst a group of characters, rather than one person lecturing the others, it would’ve worked better. I also could have done without the love triangle, although it does show that Travis does still have some flaws, even if he’s not the frog that Jess thought he was. Despite these concerns, younger readers won’t be deterred, and I’m certain that Kissing Frogs will awaken an environmental streak in tweens and teens, even if they’re resisted the urge for awhile.
Does Kissing Frogs sound like your kind of book? Then make sure you pick it up as either a print or eBook copy wherever you regularly buy books.
Buy Kissing Frogs today!