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Review: Double Feature by Brent Hartinger

Friday, March 22, 2013
3 Stars: A Good Read
Series: Russel Middlebrook #3
Paperback: 276 Pages
Publication: December 2, 2012 by Buddha Kitty Books
Original Publication: February 1, 2007 by HarperCollins


t's a horror-movie extravaganza in this second sequel to Brent Hartinger's Geography Club. Two complete books in one recount the stories of best friends Russel and Min who sign up to be extras on the set of a zombie film and learn that there's nothing scarier than high school romance.

In the first story, "Attack of the Soul-Sucking Brain Zombies," Russel must choose between his long-distance boyfriend and a close-to-home ex named Kevin who wants to get back together. In the second story, "Bride of the Soul-Sucking Brain Zombies," Min struggles to accept her cheerleader girlfriend's decision to stay in the closet.

But beware! Russel and Min's separate stories affect each other in surprising ways, and you'll have to read both books together to find out the "whole" story.

As much as I love Russ, I really enjoyed getting the chance to get to know Min more by reading from her perspective. She's always been that fiery Chinese American who loves a good challenge. "Bride of the Soul-Sucking Brain Zombies" showcases her vulnerable side. Min likes to see the world in black and white; in book one, she tried to impose her views on the other members of the Geography Club, and her inability to stay quiet about her beliefs led to her breakup with Therese. Once again, she faces similar problems with her new girlfriend Leah, who has been trying a new fashion statement outside of her group of cheerleader friends (and hasn't come out). I admire Min's mental strength to change her character and try to open up more.

Old friends return, and we get to meet new people, not all welcome. I especially loved seeing Otto again. He is a perfect sweetie and a good boyfriend to Russ unlike Kevin, who puts on false bravado in a bad attempt to woo Russ again. Even if I reconciliated with him a bit at the end, I don't like his methods. The biggest addition in this book has to be the introduction of Russ's parents and their reaction to finding out about Russ. It's terrible what Russ as to go through at home, and I deeply sympathize with him. I understand how hard it is to go against your parents' wishes. I too am used to thinking of my parents as right; it's ingrained into us as children. Part of the growing up process, however, is learning that your parents aren't always right, and Russ does a great job of handling the situation at home.

I can see why reading the story from both Russ and Min's perspectives was necessary to fully understand all that happened over the course of the stories. If it weren't for Min's contribution to the story, I would have thought badly of Kevin for the rest of time without knowing the struggles he goes through. While Min's stories include scenes that we don't see in Russ's side of the story, however, there are repeats however, and I didn't like having to go through the same converstions and scenes again. I also had some trouble organizing events on the same timeline with Russ and Min's stories given separately. That's it for my complaints, however.

Overall, this is a cute, sweet edition to the Russel Middlebrook series. The horror-movie setting gives us a great opportunity to learn more about the characters, such as Min's love for horror movies, and Gunnar does the film research for us, giving us fun facts about what goes into the making of movies without us having to put down the book and look things up (though we really could have read the book perfectly fine without Gunnar giving us this facts). Fans of Russ's trademark sense of humor and romance troubles will enjoy reading this book. (Note: While this series keeps clean in general, this is a cleaner book than the prior books in the series.)

A copy was provided by Brent Hartinger for review.



Russel Middlebrook Series

#1 Geography Club (read my review here)
#2 The Order of the Poison Oak (read my review here)
#3 Double Feature (read my review here)
#4 The Elephant of Surprise (read my review here)
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