Margo is pretty, popular and unsympathetic to just how intense bullying can get. As a counterfeiting plot sweeps through the city of Oak View, life for Margo will change dramatically. With a mystery unfolding, an unlikely group of heroes emerges. Bullied teens love them, the police hate them and bullies fear them. Together they will try to get to the bottom of the counterfeiting mystery while ingeniously teaching a few bullies a lesson or two along the way… that is, if the police don’t catch them first.
I was delighted to be chosen to read and review Mind Over Bullies as all three of my kids struggled with this problem - the oldest to the point the community police had to step in. How would author D.K. Smith offer a novel that captured the YA reader's attention and weave in his anti-bullying message? I was intrigued. The biggest challenge for me at the start was stepping back into that YA mindset. Having raised three avid readers, I consumed YA books right along with them, but it's been a few years.
To say this book has a complex plot is an understatement. You have a bullying theme, a counterfeiting theme, a second location overseas and a little side plot thrown in (why is Preston so interested in Matthew?). I will offer absolutely no spoilers - you'll have to read Mind Over Bullies to find out. Despite the numerous threads, the story hangs together well - something I can assure you as a fellow author is not easy.
When my kids were growing up, I always looked for YA books with strong female role models for my daughter, so was pleased to see a girl - Margo - as the main character. Her journey from bully to bullied is offered early on to set the tone for what is to come. To help keep the YA readers attention, Smith presents very extreme examples of bullying - not totally unheard of, but outside the standard of what most teens face - to bring home the message of the hell the victims experience on a daily basis. After a personal crisis point, Margo gathers a few other outsiders to try to educate the bullies, hoping to bring about a change of attitudes.
The way these teens tackle the bullies is also very extreme - not something the average kid could pull off. However, this is meant to be a both a work of fiction and an exciting read that will entertain the YA reader while passing on the important anti-bullying message. I think the choice to go this direction helps accomplish both. What bullied kid wouldn't want to pull off some of those M.O.B. stunts? My kids certainly would have loved to. Again - if you want to know what I'm referring to - you'll just have to pick up a copy.
The only weak point for me was a single plot twist right at the end - a bit of a stretch given the story to this moment. BUT - it offers a great lead in for future books and I have no doubt this will become a series. Have YA readers in your house that love intrigue? I think they'll enjoy this one.
Buy the book: Amazon
Meet the author
(To read a Q and A interview with D.K. Smith click HERE):
A 38 year old native of Los Angeles, Mr. Smith began his writing career after getting news that he would soon become an uncle. Wanting to create stories and characters for his expected niece, he created the children’s book series “Sock n Boots Adventures.” The two characters (three year old Sock and five year old Boots) began to make names for themselves, generating downloads in countries around the world.
When asked about his motivation to tackle the subject of bullying in a 108,000 word novel Smith said, “One day I came across a story in the news about a young girl that jumped in front of a subway train after weeks of bullying. As I investigated further, I was shocked at the number of similar stories I encountered. Bullycide, the news was calling it. I thought, wow, what if these young people had been shown that the pain of bullying can be handled without hurting themselves or someone else.”
Ultimately it was thoughts of his now four nieces and three nephews dealing with bullying as they get older that weighed heavily on the decision for Smith to write the story about bullying. “I recognize that the characters and situations in the book may not represent every bullying situation and that realistically the book won’t change the world, but I do sincerely hope that it sends a subtle message about there being life after bullying. We’ll just have to see how the public receives it,” Smith said.
A lover of mystery and espionage stories, Smith is a fan of everything James Bond. A favorite scenario is to see a character in an impossible situation get out of it at the last second or have the odds against them and see he or she turn the tables. Acting on the love of espionage and mystery, Smith has a new novel in the works centering on a James Bond-type character of his own creation.
Connect with the author: Website ~ Facebook ~ Twitter
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