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Neanderthal Opens the Door to the Universe
Contributor(s): Norton, Preston
ISBN: 1484790626     ISBN-13: 9781484790625
Publisher: Disney Pr
    OUR PRICE: $16.19  
Product Type: Hardcover
Published: June 2018
Annotation: Nearly a year after his brother's suicide, sixteen-year-old Cliff "Neanderthal" Hubbard gets recruited to make life better at Happy Valley High by the school's quarterback, who claims he had a vision from God.
Additional Information
Library of Congress Subjects:
High schools; Fiction.
Schools; Fiction.
Visions; Fiction.
Dewey: [Fic]
LCCN: 2017032265
Academic/Grade Level: Grade 10-12, Age 15-18
Book type: Juvenile Fiction
Physical Information: 8.75" H x 6.00" W x 1.25" (1.25 lbs) 410 pages
Descriptions, Reviews, Etc.

Reviewed by Publishers Weekly Reviews (PW Reviews 2018 March #2)

What if someone told you he was on a mission from God and you had to help him? What if that someone was the star quarterback and part-time bully at your high school, a guy who routinely calls you Neanderthal? That's exactly what happens to 16-year-old Cliff Hubbard, and Norton (Marrow) takes this unlikely premise, loads it with even more unlikely events, and makes it work in this funny and sweetly oddball book. Cliff, who is huge—250 pounds and 6'5"—has been angry since his brother committed suicide. But when the quarterback, named Aaron, returns from a near-death experience with a list of things to do to make Happy Valley High School happier—which includes getting rid of bullies like him, drug dealers, and the sanctimonious Christian students who think they're better than everyone else—Cliff signs on. Their utter cluelessness notwithstanding, the two make inroads on the list, improving not just their high school but themselves, and even finding love along the way. At the story's core is an unsentimental treatment of a bullied kid and his one-time bully discovering their commonalities. That Norton accomplishes this without moralizing and in inventively rhythmic and pop-culture–saturated language only adds to the fun. Ages 14–18. Agent: Jenny Bent, the Bent Agency. (June)

Copyright 2018 Publishers Weekly.

Reviewed by School Library Journal Reviews (SLJ Reviews 2018 May)

Gr 9 Up—Cliff Hubbard aka Neanderthal, a 250-pound and super tall kid, is the target of bullies and crippling self-doubt until the day school football hero Aaron, newly surfaced from a coma, claims that in a near-death experience, God told him that their school needs drastic improvement, and that Cliff is Aaron's divinely appointed sidekick. Cliff's acceptance of the challenge leads them into direct conflict with everyone—the "Jesus" teens, an angry teacher, the local drug dealers, and a mysterious hacker poised to publish everyone's dirty laundry online. There's character development aplenty in this novel about what it takes to make the world a better place. While the debate about the reality of God is never resolved, there might just be a little divine intervention as the boys affect changes that make life better at sucky Happy Valley High School. Cliff is a wry, self-deprecating narrator whose spot-on observations about the "loser" side of high school life are frequently laugh-out-loud. Funny, well-plotted and sneakily thought-provoking, the only off-note here is the overabundance of expletives that, while evidently being offered to show how teens really talk, actually slow the story down. Still, fans of humorous realistic fiction will find a lot to enjoy in Norton's first foray into the genre. VERDICT A strong purchase for all libraries serving older teens.—Elizabeth Friend, Wester Middle School, TX

Copyright 2018 School Library Journal.