Monday, January 14, 2013

"Freak Magnet" review

“Freak Magnet”, by Andrew Auseon, is a he-said she-said love story that begins in present day Washington D.C. at a lonely coffee shop. Charlie Wyatt is enjoying lunch with his paraplegic best friend, Edison, while Gloria Aboud is progressing through her day like she normally does, alone. When he sees her for the first time they have a very non-traditional first encounter. Chasing her down, Charlie exclaims to her that she’s the most beautiful girl he’s ever seen. But, as a self-proclaimed “freak magnet”, this isn’t Gloria’s first time around the block. She icily shuts him down and proceeds to record her experience in her “freak folio,” a journal with poetry written about her day-to-day life. But even Gloria has to admit to herself that Charlie seemed different, more sincere, than the others.

The story then proceeds with explaining the lives of the two main characters. Charlie is described as an eccentric genius, with a scholarship to an astrology institution in Chile where he plans on going within the month. But as the plot rolls along we find out that he has his own limitations, his mom is dying of Huntington’s disease, and though he doesn’t come outright and say it, I believe that Charlie has some sort of social disorder. Whenever he tries to hold a conversation with anyone, he ends up making it completely awkward, to a point where he’s even accidentally offensive. Gloria is a cold, attractive girl with a home life that appears perfect on the outside, but is virtually unbearable. Her older brother died while serving in Afghanistan, leaving her with a well-meaning scatterbrained sister, and out of touch mom who is more concerned with her next client than helping her daughter grieve. Both of the main character’s situations constructs a perfect layout for a chance to grow by seeking refuge in each other.  

I had assumed that “Freak Magnet” would have been a typical teen quick read, it has a quick, intriguing title and a decent, attention-grabbing summary on the back cover. What I didn’t expect was how much I would fall in love with the generally non-relatable characters. I’ve never had a brother die or had a parent with an incurable disease, yet I continued flipping the pages to try to understand what Gloria and Charlie were going through. I expected minimal description of the most depressing parts of the book, but the author didn’t skip anything. When things went wrong for Charlie I felt like cringing, when Gloria missed her brother, so did I. It’s rare when you’re reading a fiction book and have to remind yourself that you didn’t grab it out of the autobiography section, it shows that the author has established a relationship with you and his characters.

Charlie, in my opinion, is the more likable of the two main characters. He’s smart, quirky and always seems to see the good in people. But, one of the major downfalls to his relatable factor is that he has an obsession with Superman. Yes, the comic book character. Every once and a while there will be a reference to a certain movie or comic book that can be compared to whatever is happening at the time. I’m not sure if it’s because I’ve never seen any T.V. show, read any comic, or seen any Superman movie, that this entire part of the book is right over my head, but I could have done without it. Charlie even wears a full-blown Superman costume under all of his clothes, cape and all. I get that he’s going through a hard time, and sometimes it’s necessary to have someone to look up to, or personify when you don’t feel strong. But in my opinion, Charlie should have found a different way to feel like a hero.

I felt like the part of the book that provided the light-hearted and happy aspect was Charlie and Gloria’s weird but perfect relationship. When it seemed like things were getting a little monotone and bleak with one of the characters, they would bump into each other again. The undeniable chemistry between the two was sometimes awkward to read about, in Charlie’s case, he appears more obsessive, but Gloria turns out to be just as crazy about him as he is about her. The only predictable part of the book was that in the end, they do end up together. But it isn’t a cookie-cutter happy ending, they both still realize they have their demons, they’re just better off facing them together than apart.

After reading “Freak Magnet” by Andrew Auseon, I was definitely satisfied. For a random book I found at the library, it had incredible substance. The narration was refreshing, switching from Gloria to Charlie’s point of view. I read a book that was funny, deep, and surprisingly relatable. I would recommend this book mainly to young adults, and to either gender, mainly because that’s what the author was directing his audience towards. However, I wouldn’t stop anyone from reading it, of any age, a love story is good no matter how old you are.

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