Friday, March 15, 2013
Pages: 288 (paperback)
Published: 2013 by Simon Pulse
Be careful what you believe in...Rudy’s life is flipped upside-down when his family moves to a remote island in a last attempt to save his sick younger brother. With nothing to do but worry, Rudy sinks deeper and deeper into loneliness and lies awake at night listening to the screams of the ocean beneath his family’s rickety house.
Then he meets Diana, who makes him wonder what he even knows about love, and Teeth, who makes him question what he knows about anything. Rudy can’t remember the last time he felt so connected to someone, but being friends with Teeth is more than a little bit complicated. He soon learns that Teeth has terrible secrets. Violent secrets. Secrets that will force Rudy to choose between his own happiness and his brother’s life.
Seeing as I had heard Teeth blurbed as both "another edgy teen contemp" and as a story about "gay magic fish", it's a surprise that I gave this book a try-- but in this case, taking a chance on a new author and an unknown story definitely payed off. Hannah Moskowitz has a "bare bones" writing style which really captures a reader's attention and, in the case of Teeth, makes the story so much more raw and real. This book defies genre trends, with a few elements of the ever-popular mermaid paranormal romance (ie boy meets girl; boy meets fish), a few from the "edgy" teen novel, some from the modern fairy tale novels like those by Holly Black, and some which are all its own.
Our MC Rudy was a typical enough teenage boy before his family moved to an island with a tiny population, an island whose local fish are rumored to make whoever eats them healthy, even to ward off terminal diseases like the one Rudy's little brother suffers from. Rudy meets beautiful Diana, who is the only other teenager on the island: she grew up on the isolated island and learned most everything she knows from books. And then he meets the boy who calls himself Teeth: a boy with a fish tail and a scaly upper body who lives near the island's docks. Teeth insists he is more fish than human, but as Rudy discovers as he begins to get to know Teeth and his murky origins, Teeth is more human and more vulnerable than he would ever admit.
Teeth is a simply told story, part-contemporary and part-fairy tale, with simple, powerful themes. However, its complex and beautifully realized characters mean that you will likely be thinking about this short novel long after you finish reading it. What has stayed with me most strongly are the characters of Rudy and Teeth, the strength and uncertainty of their friendship, and the ending-- which was not, as I definitely feared it was going to be while reading the book, tragic. I really loved this amazingly original novel and really recommend that anyone just try reading it with no expectations or prejudices, because Teeth defies both.