Saturday, October 5, 2013

Surprisingly Terrific! A Review of Ship Out of Luck

Premise: Anthony "Antsy" Bonano and his family have been invited on a birthday cruise for their wealthy, cranky, old-man neighbor, Mr. Crawley. But when Antsy meets a mysterious stowaway on his first day, his relaxing vacation turns into one terrible idea after another.

Title: Ship Out of Luck
Author: Neal Shusterman
Length: 256 pages
Genre: Realistic Fiction / Humor
Series or Stand Alone: Book 3 in the Antsy Bonano Series
Content Appropriate For: Grades 8-12
Format: Hardcover provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review

Three adjectives that describe this book: engaging, page-turner, fun

I was a bit hesitant to start reading Ship Out of Luck since it's the third book in a series, of which I have read neither books 1 or 2. So let me start by relieving you of that concern - this book is totally grand on its own and requires no previous knowledge of the other books.

My other hesitation was that this book is billed as a comedy. I don't read a lot of humor because it always feels forced, fake, and annoying. Ship Out of Luck was fun... and there was humor... but it surprised me because the humor was sophisticated and fit with the characters and plot. It only appeared at reasonable times, so that the humor was not the focal point of the novel, nor did it distract from the story. Antsy and Crawley are pretty acerbic characters. They are witty and they're humor is dry. I enjoyed it thoroughly.

And the novel itself? Once I got started reading Ship Out of Luck I was totally hooked. Antsy's running commentaries were intriguing, but once his family got on that cruise ship things really took a turn. He quickly gets robbed by a teenage stowaway on-board. Tilde is the kind of teenage girl who refuses to be pinned down. She's her own boss. But of course, Antsy can't resist figuring out what she's up to and there's much more to her than meets the eye!

Finally, I was surprised at how smoothly Shusterman evolved this tale from witty commentary and crazy situations, to a pretty serious topic. Antsy and Tilde go through some tricky stuff together and they both grow as characters. For a book billed as humor, Ship Out of Luck deals with some heavy-hitting stuff, especially poverty and immigration issues.

I highly recommend this book!
4 stars

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