Staci always seems to get on the wrong side of a problem and ends up ticking off everyone around her. This time is definitely the worst – her best friend Faith has fallen in with a group of wanna-be witches and is mad because Staci won’t come to their spell casting sessions. But after the first time, when they almost got caught in the museum casting a spell in the Incan history exhibit, Staci’s had enough of weirdness. Now if only she could figure out how to help “Chuck,” the hunky but odd guy who coincidentally (or not?) showed up immediately after the disappearance of an Incan mummy from the museum.
Jolley’s second story for Lerner’s middle-school paranormal romance series lacks much of the humor and swoony quality that made My Boyfriend is a Monster, vol. 3: My Boyfriend Bites a terrific edition to the series. The story seems rushed and readers never get the chance to get to know the characters well enough to care about their issues. The side characters remain almost faceless; readers are introduced to them and then they fade away quickly, making it hard to care when they reappear briefly later in the story. As the witches and Faith begin to turn away from Staci, the tension and the stakes are raised, adding much needed drama to the tale. Unfortunately that drama doesn’t spill over to the romance. Chuck is cute, but his and Staci’s love pops up awkwardly and without any reason. In a tale such as this, it is not surprising for characters to rush into romance, but the love affair here is more akin to falling abruptly off a cliff with all of the surprise and none of the affection.
Nourigat’s art is a nice addition to the series, however. All of the characters look believably like teens and the settings are strong without overpowering the story. Nourigat has a good grasp of perspective and knows how to place characters and events within a panel in such a way as to play with readers’ emotions, evoking sympathy or surprise or fear. Chuck is, as I mentioned previously, blandly handsome enough to appeal to young teen readers and that’s fairly typical for the series. Though this is not the strongest of the books by far, readers who have enjoyed the previous books will at least identify with Staci’s sense of alienation from her friends and classmates. Recommended for libraries that already have devoted readers of the series.