Title: Don't Even Think About It
Author: Sarah Mlynowski
Publisher: Random House
Pub. Date: March 11, 2014
Rec. Age Level: 14+
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When the sophomores in homeroom 10B get their annual flu shot, they expect the normal side effects, a headache or maybe a sore arm. None of them expect that they'll suddenly develop ESP that enables all 22 of them to hear the thoughts of their classmates, families, and random people on the street. Or that they'll suddenly be able to communicate with each other telepathically. But that's exactly what happens. Suddenly, they know things they've always wondered and things they never wanted to know. Crushes, embarrassing thoughts, and painful secrets are all exposed. But a classroom full of peers with ESP isn't all fun and games. People will get hurt, lines will be crossed, and those on top might well find themselves on the bottom...
I'll be honest - I thought this one was really cheesy at first. The dialogue felt awkward and the characters seemed kind of immature and then, all of a sudden, everything just clicked. I mean, this is what it'd really be like if your homeroom class suddenly had ESP. It would be both really awesome and really, really terrible. Some kids would totally take advantage of the situation, others would do anything to make it go away. This book totally made me question ever answering the question "If you could have any superpower..." with any answer resembling mind-reading abilities.
One of the really unique characteristics of this book is the narration. Instead of being told from one character's point-of-view, it's from the viewpoint of all 22 characters... well, in theory anyway. We don't actually hear from all 22 characters, there are only a handful that are recognizable, but the narrator is pretty much omniscient since any thoughts one of the 22 students has, the remaining 21 have access to. Pretty intense, right? I thought it'd be difficult to keep all the characters straight, but it really wasn't because Mlynowski diversifies the characters that the reader hears from specifically. Each fulfills an identifiable stereotype - player, queen bee, All-American boyfriend, shy girl, etc - making them easy to keep track of. And you might be thinking "Ick, stereotypes" but that's the beauty of DON'T EVEN THINK ABOUT IT. Mlynowski lines all these stereotypes up and then, using an outbreak of ESP, breaks them down and shows the individual within the stereotype.
I also loved that DON'T EVEN THINK ABOUT IT was laugh-out-loud funny without warning. All of a sudden there would just be this really clever one liner that would prompt an almost startled laugh. There was clearly a comedian somewhere in that homeroom.
I was happy to discover that there's a sequel, DON'T THINK TWICE, scheduled for a 2015 release. I can't wait to see what drama the next installment holds!