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Andromeda Klein Will Give You A Big Wedgie

Posh loves the titular character from Frank Portman's Andromeda Klein, but she'd never invite Andromeda to her slumber party.

Andromeda Klein Will Give You A Big Wedgie
BOOK REPORT for Andromeda Klein by Frank Portman

BFF Charm: Yay?
Swoonworthy Scale: 2
Talky Talk: Tarotatious (For the Hearing Impaired)
Bonus Factor: The Occult
Relationship Status: It's Complicated

The Deal:

While most teenagers endure their fair share of angst, Andromeda Klein has got it in SPADES... or, rather, tarots. Her best friend, Daisy, just died of leukemia, and her much-older boyfriend, St. Steve, has ceased all contact since sending the text, "Hi there." Already a loner (read: the school weirdo), Andromeda handles the mad dramz the only way she knows how: by diving deeper and deeper into magic. As she struggles to make sense of Daisy's death and St. Steve's rejection, Andromeda encounters the mystical (and kinda sexy) King of Sacramento, an enigma with all of the answers (who always leaves her with more questions). As if a magical quest wasn't enough for a teenage girl to handle, Andromeda must fight to save the "Magic Book" section of the library from certain death while attempting to keep up with her one remaining friend (read: backstabber), Rosalie, AND instruct her first apprentice, Byron, a dude who listens to way too much emo-core.

BFF Charm: Yay?

Andromeda is, like, the rail-thin embodiment of Ghost World meets The Craft. Umm WHAT'S NOT TO LOVE? Ok, actually, she's WAY too angsty. And also socially deformed. But really, this only makes me want to be her friend even more. Girlfriend NEEDS HELP. She's the semi-goth with Egyptian-drawn eyes you notice in the hallway who never talks to anyone and therefore maintains an air of cool mystery that makes you want to invite her over for a slumber party so you can do tarot readings and play the Ouija board. except once she actually shows up at yr house, you realize that she has ZERO self confidence and spends all of her free time locked in her room with her cat, Dave, doing magic and pining over A.E. White, a famous occultist from the turn of the century. Yeah. Soooo, after a few minutes of awkward conversation, you guys will just sit awkwardly on the couch while she does this:

Taking an inventory of the room and imagining all the possible ways in which these objects could be used to commit suicide was a reliable method of distracting and quieting the mind in stressful situations. Andromeda had once counted twenty-nine in this room, though at this moment she was stuck on eighteen.

Ok, well, that's kind of awesome.

Andromeda is definitely the kind of loner I can root for, esp. cos she's smart, snarky and totes eccentric. But I'm just not sure we could ever slumber party together, given that I'd want to watch, say, Pride and Prejudice, while she'd want to add up the numbers behind the letters in her recent vision so she could determine whether St. Steve is still in love with her when OBVIOUSLY he's a total perv who is this close to committing statutory rape and hey you know what, Andromeda, you SHOULD come over, and uh, maybe we can perform an exorcism on yr brain so you can GET OVER THAT STUPID LOSER.

Swoonworthy Scale: 2

Obvs I am NOT a fan of Andromeda's romance with St. Steve, esp. when the kinky text messages start rolling in (UGH). But then again, I doubt Frank Portman really wants you to like this guy in the first place. Thankfully, Andromeda's emo apprentice, Byron, turns out to be totally adorbs, and his efforts to win Andromeda over are really sweet and hilarious. And while Andromeda is struggling with hormones like everyone else her age, the story is more about her learning to feel comfortable with herself independent of whether or not a boy (or anyone, for that matter!) likes her. And that's an idea I can definitely get behind!

Talky Talk: Tarotatious (For the Hearing Impaired)

Here's where Frank Portman started to lose me. His first book, King Dork, is full of zany references and cool lingo that I (seriously) tried to implement into my vocabulary. He's got a fantastic grasp on teen-speak, and Andromeda, like Tom Henderson (from KD), comes across as a fully developed, smart and edgy character who is tragically misunderstood. With that said, there is WAY TOO MUCH OCCULT THEORY IN THIS BOOK. Yes, the topic is definitely interesting, and yes, her passion for magic is the core of Andromeda's being, but I cannot endure chapters with two pages of action and 15 pages of paragraphs like this:

Dr. Regardie confirmed that hekas hekas este bebeloi was Golden Dawn, a banishing formula known as the Cry of the Watcher Within, adapted from the Greek Eleusinian Mysteries; it means "away, away, profane spirits," the equivalent of the more familiar ap pantos kakodaimonos or the procol, O procul este profani of the Star of Ruby, for example.

SAY WHAT.

I feel like Dr. Frank just got WAY too excited about his magical research and kind of... forgot that other, non-occultist people would be reading this book.

As if the tarot shizz wasn't confusing enough, Andromeda also has a collagen/bone disorder that has left her extremely hearing impaired. At first, her mishearing of words is hilarious, like "action populated" (discombobulated) and "bagel worm agony" (naked girl magazine), but eventually, the joke kinda got old for me (although I love that Andromeda's ex-bf got his name from her mishearing "I'm a sensitive (aka St. Steve) guy"). Overall, I had a tough time keeping track of what all of the phrases meant, let alone the names of Andromeda's favorite magicians and the bazillion spells/incantations, so the story ended up feeling v. choppy and confusing to me. OR maybe my brain is just too shallow and full of celebrity gossip for this book. Hmm.

With that said, there were still a lot of phrases and lines that I loved in Andromeda Klein. One of my faves is Ouijanesse ("The Daisy-Andromeda term describing their own spooky, occult experiments-- pronounced 'weedgie-ness'"), esp. cos I like the idea of referring to weird coincidences or hair-raised-on-the-back-of-yr-neck moments as "weedgie." The other line I definitely plan to use is "get my lady on," i.e. put on make-up.

Bonus Factor: The Occult

Although this factor borders on Overkill Territory (ok, actually, it has claimed land and settled there), it's still pretty interesting to read all about the history of magic, numerology and the tarot. For a total mindf*ck, check out the underside of the book cover (hardcover edition, obvs). Um... wow. And I thought Ouija boards were only good for determining who had a crush on you in the 7th grade.

Casting Call:

Dakota Fanning as Andromeda

I think Dakota's got the acting chops to nail Andromeda's quiet yet snarky eccentricity.

Olivia Thirlby as Rosalie

I didn't really talk about Rosalie too much in this review but UM she's kind of my favorite, even though (i.e. because) she's a total mean girl. Olivia Thirlby's brassy and ballsy turn in Juno has me convinced that she can handle Rosalie's awesomeness.

Dan Byrd as Byron

Dan Byrd is cute, geeky and tiny, not to mention he could totally rock some eyeliner and emo hair. Plus I can sooo picture him pulling off the line, "So, Goetic demons tonight. Your place or mine?"

Relationship Status: It's Complicated

I have REALLY conflicting feelings about this book, as evidenced by the ridiculous length of this review. One of the main problem is that King Dork set an impossibly high standard, and I couldn't help but compare Andromeda's love of magic to Tom's love of band names and scamming AP teachers. Let's just say that I would MUCH rather go to a rock show at Emo's with Tom than invite Andromeda over for a seance.

While reading the book, I never felt fully absorbed by the story or the characters, and yet, when I look back on it, I feel a certain fondness for Andromeda and all of her crazycakes magic and misheard vocabulary. Hers is a world that I really WANTED to explore, and yet Frank Portman's fascination with occult name-dropping made the navigation terribly tricky and even, at times, tedious. In a way, I guess my reading experience mirrors the reality of actually trying to be friends with someone like Andromeda. It's easy to see that she's awesome, and yet she makes it v. hard for you to know her, let alone embrace her.

P.S. If you want to hear the song Frank Portman, aka Dr. Frank of the Mr. T Experience, wrote about Andromeda, go here.

P.P.S. I gotta share one more line with you that totally made me LOLZ. Biggest fail church invite, ever: "You should come to our church sometime. We have DDR."

Posh Deluxe's photo About the Author: Sarah lives in Austin, TX, where she programs films at the Alamo Drafthouse. Sarah enjoys fancy cocktails, dance parties and anything that sparkles (except vampires).