Friday, July 1, 2011

A Scary Scene in A Scary Movie by Matt Blackstone

A Scary Scene in a Scary Movie  
A Scary Scene in a Scary Movie
by Matt Blackstone
Farrar Straus Giroux
July 5th, 2011
256 pages

Rene, an obsessive-compulsive fourteen year old, smells his hands and wears a Batman cape when he’s nervous. If he picks up a face-down coin, moves a muscle when the time adds up to thirteen (7:42 is bad luck because 7 + 4 + 2 = 13), or washes his body parts in the wrong order, Rene or someone close to him will break a bone, contract a deadly virus, and/or die a slow and painful death like someone in a scary scene in scary movie. Rene’s new and only friend tutors him in the art of playing it cool, but that’s not as easy as Gio makes it sound. (From Good Reads.)

I received an ARC of this book for review from Teen Book Scene Tours.  This in no way influenced my review of this book.

This novel is a definite recommend for anyone who reads YA! The world could definitely use some more empathetic writers when it comes to quirky characters with mental health issues and Matt Blackstone is one to add to my very small list.

Rene is socially challenged if we're being PC, but he has some OCD tendencies as well.  He can't step on a crack or it will bring bad luck.  He has to smell his left hand, you'll love the reason for picking that hand!  And he has to touch his locker with his pinky a certain number of times.  But he is adorably frank and it makes him seem immature as he doesn't get the social clues and cues of others.  But he does weigh the outcomes of his actions-he calls it playing ping pong.  And honestly, I don't think that's so weird at all, or maybe I just have that in common with him because I do that all the time, too.

Gio, on the other hand, is the epitome of cool.  He fits in anywhere, whether it's with the teachers or the students, he's just it.  He coins phrases like "Get off my biscuit" and "B'noodles" and he's the coolest.  And to Rene, he is a beacon.  If he can be friends with Gio his whole life will change.  He'll get over his fears, he'll stop worrying about Phil, everything will get better.  Gio's philosophy about life allows him to not take Rene too seriously or for granted.  He finds Rene funny and seems to understand him.  The two become friends and complement each other's strengths and weaknesses.

I have to say this book had some of the best laugh out loud moments I've ever read in a book.  This was the kind of book that had me crying I was laughing so hard.  And then,  of course, I had to share what I was laughing about and it was just as funny sharing it with someone.

There is a serious side to the novel wrapped in an adventure and Rene's character see's some changes, some growth or healing.  I'm not sure what you'd say.  I loved the ending, though the serious part felt a bit like a different book than the beginning.  The entire book is told from Rene's point of view which is great because you can see the way his brain works and hear his ping pong game in his head and actually hear him grow as he faces some challenges.  It's a great book and I would not classify it as a boy book at all.  I think it's equally enjoyable by both boys and girls.  Matt Blackstone is wonderful at sharing a look inside the head of a boy with OCD and yet still a teenage boy!



  1. Oh this looks pretty good! I like the OCD and humour and first person aspects.
    If you fancy reading a short story of humour/horror -

    Let me know your thoughts.

    Shah. X

  2. I love the books that make me cry I'm laughing so hard! And now you've got me all curious about this left hand smelling situation. I'll have to give this one a try, it wasn't on my radar at all, but you've made me want to pick it up!

  3. Well- Moving put off for a day- Youngest decided to try sitting on an adult motorbike and dropped it handles falling on his foot. Broke it. Giving him a day to rest. LAST day of insurance. Still have to get a cast next week without insurance or pay for COBRA. Do you know how much that costs for a family????

    Anyway, have time to look at story Shah.

    Jenny- one situation Rene goes to a nursing home with Gio and sees an old man sitting in his wheelchair when a nurse comes over and says, "Okay Mr. Johnson, time to go to the bathroom." Rene is thinking to himself he must have been getting ready in advance because when he stand up, his pants fall down and his wrinkled freckled butt shows and he starts farting all the way to the bathroom. Okay the way Rene says it is funny enough. But then he meets the two people Gio is visiting and the man says, "Let's get out of here. It smells like (something) and farts." And Rene raises his hand and says, "I know who did it!" And he's dead serious about telling on the old man who did it. I'm not telling it the best way, but I don't have the book in front of me. It's in the already read books and on the movers truck! But it's funny and even my none reading husband cracked up. It's that Rene takes everything so literal that makes it so funny.

  4. This sounds like a riot and my kind of humor. I don't care how old you are, FARTS ARE FUNNY!

    Being an RN who chuckles when someone rips one always get me a look but more generally it gets another chuckle.

    Great review and sounds like a fantastic book! 'Write' up my alley!


  5. This sounds like a great book.

    I found you on I'm a reader not a writer and am interested in getting involved with your Sept. Give Away Hop. Can you tell me where to sign up?

    P.S. I'm a new follower ;).

  6. When I read your summary of Rene, I thought of Christopher Boone from The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time or Jacob Hunt from House Rules... it must be hard to watch someone else follow such an Aspergian routine!

  7. Futile_Crush- He wasn't Asperger's like. He liked a girl and he wanted friends. And only a few boys picked on him, the same that would pick on anyone weaker than them. He wanted to help his teacher and he had divided the kids at school into different groups. So, he's social awkwardness was actually due to circumstance and OCD more than any other reason. You'd need to read it to understand it. Rene was not made fun of-I'm very sensitive to that. He was actually a hero in the end. It doesn't reach the emotional level of Forbidden, but it is a great approach to the painful realities of OCD.

    Bethfred- I think we're still working on a design for it, but you sign up on I'm a Reader Not A Writer's blog. You click on the picture and the form comes up. I'm glad you are joining the giveaway and thanks for stopping by! I take a look at your blog.

    Hey Kristi-
    So great to talk to you SFAM! I'll let you know my new number when I get it. First day of travel was okay. Dogs won't eat or settle down (FIREWORKS). We're in Allentown, PA. I don't know how long of a drive it will be tomorrow. I'm afraid to ask!

    But if you choose to read this book, make sure you have someone to share the funny parts with!
    And this book in no way makes fun of people with mental health issues. I don't read books like that!


  8. Ohh--you almost had me with your enticing comment about something really amazing happening to Logan. I came oh so close to reading Shift, but then I checked on goodreads, and if there is any chance Logan might be alive and Aura is still chasing a Scotty, I cannot read!!! I just won't do it!!! This is horrible. I cannot believe she would do this!!! ahhh!!!

    As for tiaras everyone should have one. Thanks for checking out my blog ;)

  9. Aw, I really like stories about friendship. This one sounds cute.

  10. I'm part of this tour, too! The book sounds super funny. But your right the story does have a serious topic. I enjoy books like this that help you understand an issue someone is going through with some humor.

  11. One's interest in finding books of different topic.

    Scary Movie


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