These reviews have been copied from the New York Public Library’s Website – http://www.nypl.org
PW Reviews 2013 February #3
In an unsettling story with elements of magical realism, Rudy’s younger brother is dying from cystic fibrosis, so his family moves to an island hoping he can be cured by eating the “magic fish” that swim there. But the island hosts another enigma: lonely Rudy meets a half human, half fish. This “fishboy” calls himself Teeth, likes to bite, and pulls stunts to protect the fish that he considers his “siblings.” Rudy feels deeply for Teeth, but their uneasy friendship causes complications, too, especially when Teeth’s fish-saving missions endanger Rudy’s brother and push the island’s brutal fishermen to seek revenge. The moody setting and singular premise are captivating, but Rudy’s sometimes overwrought narration (“I wish we would all just fall apart so I wouldn’t have to listen to the downfall happen, so slowly, so painfully”) and the book’s pervasive sense of dread can be taxing. Moskowitz (Gone, Gone, Gone) addresses challenging themes about family, loyalty, and human isolation, but readers may be too drained by the troubling events to fully explore them. Ages 14–up. Agent: Suzie Townsend, FinePrint Literary Management. (Jan.)
Copyright 2013 PWxyz LLC
School Library Journal
SLJ Reviews 2013 May
Gr 9–11—The premise of this book is that a magical fish impregnates a young woman, resulting in the birth of a half human/half sea creature. These fish, if eaten, can cure all kinds of diseases. Teeth rescues the fish he considers to be his brothers from fishermen’s nets. When he is caught, he is beaten again and again, but always manages to escape. Rudy’s family has moved to the island seeking a cure for his younger brother’s cystic fibrosis. Rudy is so alone, restless, and bored that meeting Teeth results in an instant curiosity and connection. Diana, Teeth’s sister, is lonely, too, and initiates contact with Rudy, apparently the only other teen on the island. This is a story of Rudy’s path to identity and making choices in complicated circumstances. He loves his brother and is grateful when the fish help stem the disease but also understands Teeth’s desire to rescue the fish from the nets. To allow Teeth to continue his mission will spell sickness for the islanders who have come to rely on the healing ability of the fish; to allow the fishermen to slowly beat Teeth to death is clearly wrong. In addition to these dilemmas, Rudy wonders about going to college and about how his family has changed since being on the island. This is an unusual story, narrated by Rudy, but his frequent use of obscenities seems unnecessary. In the end he finds a way to save Teeth, help his brother, and accept his place in life.—Joanne K. Cecere, Monroe-Woodbury High School, Central Valley, NY
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Booklist Reviews 2013 January #1
*Starred Review* Moskowitz’s best novel since Break (2009) is actually reminiscent of that (literally) smashing debut: both books feature a teen struggling to protect his sick brother, and both deal with the extreme limits of noble self-harm. Rudy, 16, and his family have moved to “a place for last resorts,” a remote island that is the home of the rare silver Enki fish, purported to have unsurpassed restorative powers—just what Rudy’s 5-year-old brother, Dylan, needs to stave off death from cystic fibrosis. It is within the frigid ocean waves that Rudy encounters Teeth, an ugly, foul-mouthed half boy, half fish who is perpetually bruised and bloody from violent late-night encounters with cruel fishermen. The two become friends, maybe even more, but Teeth considers the fish his siblings, and Rudy needs the fish to feed his brother. Therein lies the conflict: how much is one of them willing to give up for the other? Despite the fantastical elements, this reads as realistic, even gritty, drama, fueled by Moskowitz’s brand of stream-of-consciousness wonder, tumbling emotion, and dark undertones. Her handling of each characters’ sexuality is particularly impressive in its refusal to generalize or simplify. Moskowitz’s prose has always had charm; pair it with a great plot and this is what happens.
Copyright 2012 Booklist Reviews.
The Horn Book
Horn Book Guide Reviews 2013 Fall
Rudy’s family moves to a remote island to benefit from magically curative Enki fish, which ease his brother’s cystic fibrosis, but when Rudy becomes involved with merboy Teeth, his divided loyalties endanger his brother’s supply of the fish. Though a combination of implausible plot elements defy belief, gritty language and an undercurrent of sexual abuse gives this hard-hitting fantasy a real-world edge.
Voice of Youth Advocates Reviews
VOYA Reviews 2013 February
Real life seems to be on hold for Rudy when, to save the life of his little brother suffering from cystic fibrosis, the family moves to a mysterious island where magic fish having healing powers. Believing himself the only teenager on the island, he is surprised to meet Diana, the daughter of the family who first discovered the magic fish, and Teeth, half-human, half-fish, whose friendship causes Rudy to confront everything he believes, with deadly consequences Moskowitz’s fourth novel is as compelling as it is difficult to describe in a way that does it justice. Narrator Rudy is, by his own admission, kind of a jerk, although he really is never quite so bad in the action we see as he describes himself to be. Teeth, the “magic gay fish” (as the author describes him in the book’s acknowledgements and on her blog), is by far the more interesting character—a tragic hero, flawed and damaged enough to intrigue Rudy, whose main goal in life is to not be bored. There are many undercurrents about family, responsibility, love, sex, and obligation, to name a few, and Moskowitz does an interesting job of tying these to the different books Rudy and Diana discuss in their reading and make-out sessions. Readers will likely either love or hate this novel, which requires both a willing suspension of disbelief and a high tolerance for gratuitous cursing. With this unusual and thought-provoking book, readers who stick with it will certainly find it difficult to forget.—Vikki Terrile 4Q 4P S
Copyright 2011 Voya Reviews.