I have this thing with sequels. Either I loved the first book and the second book, or I loved the first book and thought the second book was just... meh. STUDENT BODIES, though, is one of those cases that the sequel really surprised me - in a good way!
One of the reasons POLTERGEEKS didn't make it into my absolute favorites list was because it seemed to... happy, I suppose, for me. That's alright with me - after all, I still enjoyed the plot - but it's not my absolute favorite because it's still your classic hero story, with your brave heroine, sidekicks and mostly-happily-ever-after. Again, nothing particularly wrong with that. But not exactly too original or dark either, which is why the first book was something I'd still recommend to middle grade readers.
What I liked about STUDENT BODIES, though, is that it really goes into darker and more "mature" subjects. You still have that fantastical spell chanting and potion making - just more things that I thought made it more of a YA novel. In case you couldn't tell from the blurb, Julie now has a boyfriend, Marcus, and has to deal with how to balance that with her duties as a Shadowcull and her parent. While I'm sure none of us have her powers, I'm sure we could all relate to Julie's frustration at times, which I didn't see in the last book. Other than that, there are heavier themes about bullying, though that still seemed a bit middle-grade to me (think: wedgies and dumpsters).
On that note, I'm still in love with Julie's voice! It has just the right amount of sass and smarts in it, and just a bit of teenage angst for realistic-ness. On the other hand, she’s still the bad-ass, magic-wielding heroine. Cumming’s balance of the two was great, and I really enjoyed her character!
Other than Julie, my favorite part of the book was Twyla! They’re quite different characters, but at the same time, they’re also very similar in their drive to investigate. I loved how they worked together as a team, so hopefully we see more of them in the next book! At the same time, though, I also felt that Marcus’s character wasn’t as enjoyable. Maybe it’s because of the romance, or because of Twyla’s addition, but I didn’t really feel his pull as much.
Nonetheless, STUDENT BODIES is a fun and quick sequel that I’d easily recommend! In fact, even if you felt like POLTERGEEKS was a bit too happy or juvenile, I still feel as if STUDENT BODIES is an improvement from the first. Otherwise, fans of the series or urban fantasy magic definitely should check this series out! (:
* A free review copy of this book was provided for the blog tour. This did not affect my opinion of the book.
What an.... interesting title. Can't wait to see what comes next though!