Being Jamie Baker

Being Jamie Baker by Kelly OramBeing Jamie Baker by Kelly Oram
Bluefields, 353 pages

An accident that should end in tragedy instead gives seventeen-year-old Jamie Baker a slew of uncontrollable superhuman abilities.

To keep her secret safe Jamie socially exiles herself, earning the title of Rocklin High’s resident ice queen. But during a supercharged encounter with star quarterback Ryan Miller she literally kisses anonymity goodbye. Now the annoyingly irresistible Ryan will stop at nothing to melt the heart of the ice queen and find out what makes her so special.

Unfortunately, Ryan is not the only person on to her secret. Will Jamie learn to contain her unstable powers before being discovered by the media or turned into a government lab rat?

More importantly, can she throw Ryan Miller off her trail before falling in love with him?

The pink cover speaks for this one, don’t you think? It’s so pink that I cannot help but just want this book, if only to put it on my shelf together with other equally striking pink books. :)

One of the TV shows that I loved back in high school was The Secret World of Alex Mack. I remember watching it religiously, loving Larisa Oleynik as Alex Mack and wondering how it feels to be the GC-161 kid. I even bought some of the books and skipped going out for the summer just to catch the episodes. That show was what I remembered as I was reading Kelly Oram’s Being Jamie Baker. Jamie Baker is seventeen, usually hormonal and absolutely antisocial — but that’s for a good reason. You see, Jamie got involved in a freak accident in her hometown that should have killed her, except that it didn’t. Instead, it gave her superhuman abilities that could kill people if she goes out of control. When she moves to Rocklin High, she becomes the resident ice queen, choosing not to care about boys or make-up, more afraid of causing harm than being socially ostracized.

But a bet between two popular guys and a supercharged kiss later, Jamie finds her ice queen reputation on the rocks as Ryan Miller follows her around, wanting to get to know her and find out what makes her tick. As if avoiding keeping her abilities a secret isn’t hard enough, Jamie has to deal with wanting to be with Ryan and knowing that she is a danger to him.

Being Jamie Baker is more of a novel about self-acceptance than a superhero novel. Jamie could just be any kid who tries to hide in the crowd unnoticed but then happens to find herself in the spotlight because someone decides she needs to be. Remove the super power aspect and the storyline could still stand on its own, but probably just a little less fun. This is a very easy read. Jamie’s voice was authentic for a seventeen-year-old girl, with all her worries, her angst and mood swings. She’s the kind of girl that I would probably want to be in high school, but without being an ice queen. Jamie’s life surely wasn’t easy, and we get it straight, no holds barred. The Jamie vs. the popular clique felt a lot like another TV show I enjoyed, Kim Possible, especially when Jamie’s back story was explored. Kim may not be same as the ice queen Jamie, but I saw her in Jamie’s awkwardness in some social situations. The writing felt a little more tell than show, though, and kind of put me off, but Jamie’s voice and her realness made up for it. Unfortunately, I found Ryan a little bit too conceited for my taste, despite his descriptions of sweetness or cuteness. Perhaps I’m just not into popular boys or boys who are so sure of themselves that it borders on being annoying more than cute. Nevertheless, Ryan is a good character to spar with Jamie and his persistence is something to be admired — take that as a hint, guys in real life. :P

I think my main problem with the book is how it becomes repetitive after some time. Yes, Jamie is an ice queen, but Ryan is relentless. Jamie likes Ryan, so she decides to go closer, but oh, Ryan does something that makes her doubt everything she thought. It goes on an on with no visible or tangible conflict, and even the presence of someone from Jamie’s past didn’t really give much threat to it. When the final showdown happens, I didn’t feel excited about it — it was more of relief: “Oh, finally, something happens!” I totally didn’t see that twist coming, and that’s good, but I felt like I’ve slogged through the story for too long before anything of real excitement happens. For a superhero-like novel, it doesn’t have a strong villain presence, that’s why I think the book really works more as a contemporary novel than one of contemporary with fantasy.

Being Jamie Baker is entertaining, but I think it would have worked better if it was made into a TV show. I can just imagine the episodes where Jamie and Ryan’s romantic tensions are portrayed — I think it would be cuter that way. :) It’s not exactly as mind-blowing as I thought it would be but it’s a fun read about family and coming to terms with your identity. :)

Rating:

2011 Challenge Status:
Required Reading – March

My copy: signed, won from the author. Thank you!

Cover and blurb: Goodreads

Book trailer:
I have to admit, this is one of the most fun book trailers I’ve ever watched. I think this is one of the reasons why this book reminded me of Kim Possible.

YouTube Preview Image

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The Rise of Renegade X

The Rise of Renegade X by Chelsea CampbellThe Rise of Renegade X by Chelsea M. Campbell
Publisher: Egmont USA
Number of pages:  352
My copy: ebook from Amazon Kindle Store

Damien Locke knows his destiny–attending the university for supervillains and becoming Golden City’s next professional evil genius. But when Damien discovers he’s the product of his supervillain mother’s one-night stand with–of all people–a superhero, his best-laid plans are ruined as he’s forced to live with his superhero family.

Going to extreme lengths (and heights), The Rise of Renegade X chronicles one boy’s struggles with the villainous and heroic pitfalls of growing up.

* * *

I used to be a fan of the X-Men animated series when it was first aired in my country when I was a kid. I wasn’t able to watch most of it, though, but when I got a little bit older, I loved watching the newer series, X-Men Evolution, which I loved and tried to catch as much as I can. I couldn’t decide which mutant I want to become, or what superpowers I’d want to have if I were one.

The Rise of Renegade X by Chelsea M. Campbell reminded me of all those days I watched those animated series almost religiously with her fun and action-packed superhero novel. Normal people flock Golden City not to see the sights but in hopes of getting mugged by a supervillain and be rescued by a superhero. They also come in hopes of attending a party like what anti-hero Damien Locke has at the start of the story, where he would show the everyone the moment his thumb print turns into a V, just like every supervillain’s has when they turn 16. Superheroes have their thumb prints turn into an H, which literally separates the good guys from the bad guys. Damien never expected that his thumb print would turn into an X — born out of the union of a villain and a hero. What’s worse is he finds out that his dad is the goody-two-shoes Crimson Flash, who was determined to show that Damien can be a hero despite his insistence that he was a villain through and through. We follow Damien as he tries to find his identity through a new school, some bullies, an annoying half sister, a wannabe sidekick and a city-wide zombification plan. All in a day’s work of a superhero or a supervillain, right?

The Rise of Renegade X is such a fun novel that I can’t believe I put off reading it for so long. This not only reminded me of the coolness of X-Men, but also the fun and creativity of the movies Sky High and The Incredibles. The best part of the novel is Damien, hands down. I loved his voice and his snark. It’s impossible not to like him and root for him and hope all his plans, no matter how stupid they may seem, work out. Damien is smart and very self-aware for someone who is 16, but that doesn’t mean he’s always nice. However, his motivations for doing the “villain-y” stuff were never really just to be bad or cruel but most often in payback for something wrong did to someone, so it makes you wonder how much of a hero he really is. This choice offered to him makes Damien more real and gives the story depth, focusing on how a person should have a choice of who they want to be regardless of what family they were born with or not.

The supporting characters, particularly the ladies, makes the story more interesting, too. There’s half-sister Amelia who’s jealous of Damien’s position in the family and tries to make his life a living hell. There’s supervillain Kat, Damien’s ex-girlfriend who he insists isn’t special to him anymore despite the attraction he feels. And then there’s Sarah, a new classmate who assigns herself as Damien’s sidekick and tries to insist that he’s more of a hero than a supervillain. These girls bring out the different sides of Damien, and it’s fun to see how he reacts to each one and how it shoes that he’s not really your average villain or hero.

There’s little I could say with the plot, although I kind of hoped Damien went the other way instead. But the ending was still pretty satisfying that has that superhero-happy-ending-feel that the movies I mentioned above did. I wouldn’t be surprised if this book is made into a movie, or at least, inspire a movie. The Rise of Renegade X is a fun read, recommended to all fans of superhero (or supervillain) shows, family computer (or nintendo dsi) games, comics or movies. I think people in my generation would definitely relive a lot of memories with this one. :)

Rating:

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