Book Review: Sting by B.J. Rowley

Book:  Sting
Author:  B.J. Rowley
Pages:  272
Format: Paperback
Publisher:  Golden Wings Enterprises  (March 2001)
Book Source:  Private Loan
Category:  Young Adult Speculative Fiction
Style:  Page-turner

Here is a classic case of "don't judge a book by its cover".  I guess it could also be a lesson on how the right cover art is vital to that all-important first impression.

When I saw this book sitting on the shelf in my family room, I confess, I didn't think much of it.  It looked rather—well—cheesy unprofessional.  However, when my daughter-in-law recommended it and I understood her friendship with the author, I felt courtesy demanded that I should read it.  I was quite pleasantly surprised.  That was earlier this year.

I was reminded of it again when I read this book, Master of Emotion by D. Ogden Huff.  Like that work, a socially outcast teenager, Stephen Ray "Sting" Fischer, who shuns physical contact out of necessity, is rescued from his lonely fate by the new girl in town, Connie Phillips, who hasn't been around long enough to learn the "rules" about him.  His "abilities" (a great word in speculative fiction) capture his attention.  Her mysterious past intrigues him.  Romance ensues.

Sting's physical quirk gives him special technical prowess, while Beau of MoE hones his super people skills.  Perhaps the difference between male and female authors is reflected here.  The plots diverge when Sting and Connie get caught up in the intrigues of a secret government project, with lots of sinister scientists and jack-boots and a spiffy Corvette Stingray.  Poor Beau and Rose of MoE only get a beat-up truck, an old VW, and a mad gynecologist.  In both, secret lairs are breached, muscles are flexed, personal growth occurs, worlds expand, and special connections are made.  Boy gets girl.  Becoming the cool guy at school is the gravy.

Mr. Rowley does a good job drawing the reader into the tale, although I took exception to a few scenarios.  Even the thickheaded-est football player is smart enough to recognize the difference between life-saving procedures and creepy groping.  And what paramedic in their right mind drives away leaving a kid standing there gripping live high-voltage wires in his fists?  Ms. Ogden did a better job at the human interaction.  Mr. Rowley has better Clancy-esque skills.

Like MoE, I read this in one night, which I think is about the right length and depth for a young adult novel.  It isn't profoundly insightful or Pulitzer Prize worthy, but it is a fresh take on a universal condition, for what high-school teenager doesn't feel like an outsider deep down in his bones?  And what such person doesn't want to get the girl and be cool?

Bottom line: I had fun reading this book and will read more of B.J. Rowley.

FTC Disclaimer: This book was independently purchased. I received no compensation from the author or their agent for this content.

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