Book Review: Kook
By: Chris Vick
Published By: HarperCollins Children's Books
Publication Date: August 30, 2016
Page Count: 400
Source: ARC Kindly Provided by Publisher
Audience: Young Adult - Contemporary
Surfing is one of those things that will always hold magic for me. As a youth, I was fascinated by watching surfers take control of their board and become one with the sea. While I never learned to surf, I always dreamed about it and thought that maybe one day I'd give it a try. I still think about in the back of my mind and perhaps in the future I'll take some lessons, but for now I am content to read about it. The surfing element and the Cornwall setting lured me to this novel.
Kook focuses on Sam, a teen who has largely grown up in London, surrounded by city streets, traffic, and noise. His mother left Cornwall with him when he was young after his father dies tragically in a surfing accident. Sam isn't a strong swimmer and mainly views the sea as the reason he grew up without his Dad, but things change when the family moves back to Cornwall. Sam's grandmother has cancer and she wants to reconnect with him before she dies. This is a lot to place on the shoulders of a fifteen year old, but Sam largely handles the situation well.
On his first day in Cornwall, Sam meets his beautiful neighbor, Jade. She lives to surf and dreams of finding an elusive wave called "The Horns". Nobody knows exactly where the wave forms, but the one thing is certain is that nobody has ridden it and lived to tell the tale. Jade is convinced she will make history be conquering the legendary wave. She enlists Sam to help her track it as he's a science nerd and the spawn of an oceanographer. The pair bond over the sand, salt, and sea air while they track waves and Sam learns to surf.
The setting of this one was gorgeous and haunting. I craved a trip to Cornwall a little more as I read each chapter. I kept having flashes from the show, Poldark, in my mind as Sam and Jade traipsed throughout the countryside. I also found the British slang to be both fun and frustrating. I ended up googling quite a few terms as I had no idea what they meant. The frustration stemmed from losing my reading flow, but it was well worth it to learn about another culture.
I don't want to go into too much more detail about the plot and spoil anything, but I was enthralled with the setting and the complex nature of these characters. Youth often makes us stupid as we feel invincible and don't always measure the consequences of our actions before diving headfirst into adventure. Growing up isn't easy and at times it's downright painful. Vick captures the tumultuous beauty of coming of age, falling in love, and heartache in this novel. Vick also manages to breathe such life into the ocean that it acts as a character in many ways. The waves and the sea drive so much of the plot and character interactions. It was a nice symbolic image to parallel with Sam's life.
One Last Gripe: It took me awhile to warm up to Sam and Jade.
Favorite Thing About This Book: The surfing aspect
First Sentence: Jade got me in trouble from day one.
Favorite Character: Jade
Least Favorite Character: Big G
Fifteen-year old Sam has moved from the big city to the coast of England—stuck there with his mom and sister on the edge of nowhere. Then he meets beautiful but damaged surfer-girl Jade. Soon he’s in love with her, and with surfing itself. But Jade is driven by an obsession: finding a legendary huge wave no one has ever ridden. As the weeks wear on, their relationship barrels forward with the force of a deep-water wave—into a storm, danger…and heartbreak.