Joel and Cat Set the Story Straight – Nick Earls & Rebecca Sparrow

August 2007, Penguin, 9780143006916 (Aus)

First published in the June 2007 issue of BOOKSELLER + PUBLISHER magazine (c) 2007 Thorpe-Bowker (a division of RR Bowker LLC)

Joel and Cat have been set an assignment to create a tandem story together. But there’s no way that Joel and Cat are going to agree on anything. While Joel wants to write a Matthew Reilly-type thriller, Cat has her heart set on Jane Austen-style tea sets and ponderings. More problems arise when Cat’s newly single Dad decides to go on a date with shock, horror Joel’s Mum! The predictable outcomes in this young adult novel are mostly excusable due to the wit and hilarity of the writing. Nick Earls and Rebecca Sparrow may not delve into the complexity of Year 12-relationships and life-decision angst, but they sure have fun doling out satiric barbs at society, the characters’ impossible family situations, the stereotypical English teacher, and vacuous peers. There are some American Pie-type moments but expressed in a very modern Australian voice. It is refreshing to see a novel for the older teen market, and one suitable for both male and female readers. It is incredibly readable, littered with Australian pop culture references, and truly warm and recognisable characters. I would affectionately recommend it to anyone seeking a clever, light, laugh-out-loud read.

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