Thursday, October 10, 2013

"Ace's Basement"/"Caught in the Act"

“Ace’s Basement” by Ted Staunton
ISBN No. 978-1-4598-0437-1
“Caught in the Act” by Deb Loughead
ISBN No. 978-1-4598-0496-8

 “Ace’s Basement” is – depending on your POV – about how Rebecca Black really feels about her YouTube video for the song “Friday” or well, okay, it’s a fictionalized treatment about how Rebecca Black probably feels about her YouTube video for the song “Friday.” In “Ace’s Basement” a youth band puts out a video and the attention it gets is a lot like Rebecca Black got for her YouTube video for “Friday.” What the band really gets is a good introduction to the consequences of hastily posted videos and tweets and the permanence of social media. All of this will be covered in the next news story about online bullying (gee, how did I know there’s a “next” one?) but the long form of a short novel allows Staunton to suggest the freaky frustration of self-absorbed youth who suddenly become punchlines, entertaining other self-absorbed youth.
The kids in “Caught in the Act” are the usual good kids who do something bad and then try to explain it away with an “I don’t know” when asked why they did it. The difference here is that they know how to get out of the stuff they’ve done – and not feel too bad about doing it or lying about it. Well, for a while, at least. It’s surprising how long Loughead dangles the prospect of redemption in front of her characters before they decide to do the right thing, but the wait is weighty enough to impress even the most hardened reader of finger-wagging tween fiction.