Thursday, May 28, 2020

"Kazu Jones and the Comic Book Criminal"

Shauna M. Holyoak graduated with a master’s degree in English Literature with an emphasis in creative writing from Brigham Young University. She was a humor columnist for The Post Register from 2009 to 2017; before that her column Up in the Night ran in The River City Weekly. She lives in Idaho Falls with her husband, six of their children and two naughty dogs. Kazu Jones and the Denver Dognappers is her debut middle-grade novel.

Holyoak applied the Page 69 Test to her new novel, Kazu Jones and the Comic Book Criminal, and reported the following:
Page 69 of Kazu Jones and the Comic Book Criminal is the tail-end of a scene where Kazu and her friends have decided to go watch the new Blood Eagle movie together at the theater. This directly follows their first team conflict and foreshadows more discord to come which will continue to make it difficult for them to solve their case. Kazu is also struggling with a mystery at home that’s left her unsettled and distracted, and as a result, she’s accidentally worn her pajama top to school that day. Madeleine, the newest member of their team, recognizes her discomfort and offers Kazu her jacket.

While I think this snippet does encapsulate the core of the story’s two-pronged conflict, I wonder if the lack of context would make it difficult for a browser to understand and appreciate the significance of what’s happening on this page. Without seeing the team’s previous disagreement, readers can’t appreciate that their excitement about the movie date is merely a distraction from the team’s growing friction. Madeleine was somewhat of an antagonist in the first book, so her recognition of Kazu’s embarrassment and attempt to help her feel less self-conscious, is a big moment in the book. It also magnifies Kazu’s sense of powerlessness, in a way, which makes her question her ability to solve her own problems. But again, without context, I’m not sure these moments have much impact. It’s an interesting test, though, and now I want to check page 69 of my other books!

Regardless of how page 69 works to draw readers into this book, I hope that most find they’re captivated by page one as they learn of my mystery squad’s plight in trying to track down a vandal before their beloved comic book store, The Super Pickle, is targeted. This story is dedicated to all my geeky readers who love role-playing games, comic books, superhero movies, comicons and cosplay! In addition to the book’s mystery and adventure, Kazu’s story has a more tender side as she tries to uncover the sickness that has left her mother bedridden and brought her Ba-chan from Japan to help. Confused and afraid, Kazu decides to take on a second case and unravel this mystery since everyone in her family has kept her out of the loop Also, watching kids deal with conflict and disagreements in a realistic way will appeal to young readers struggling in evolving relationships themselves.
Visit Shauna Holyoak's website.

--Marshal Zeringue