First, thanks to Delacorte Books for Young Readers and Edelweiss for allowing me to read an egalley of this title. I was excited for it because I loved Holes and Small Steps by this author. And the idea behind it really grabbed my interest as a science fiction reader and former science teacher. And while the idea was really great, and there were some good parts to the story, I was left a little disappointed and feeling like the story was too short and too rushed. I feel it needed more, just more More depth, more story, something.
There are two main characters. Tamaya, a 5th grade girl, and Marshall, a 7th grade boy. Tamaya is a good girl, she likes rules, likes doing what she is supposed to do. And one of those things is that she has to walk to and from school with Marshall, and not walk through the woods. Marshall is a pretty normal 7th grade boy, but he is being bullied by a new kid at school named Chad. And on the day the story starts, Chad has told Marshall that he is going to meet him on a certain corner on his normal route home from school and beat him up. So Marshall decides that he’s going to go through the woods and avoid that place. Tamaya has to go with him, as she doesn’t want to walk by herself. Unfortunately, once they get in the woods, it’s almost like they get a little lost. And then, even worse, Chad shows up, and starts beating up Marshall. Tamaya doesn’t know what to do, so she sees this mud that looks fuzzy, and throws it in Chad’s face, and then she and Marshall take off for home.
However, the hand that she used to grab the mud is now all tingly, even after she washes it up. And then sores start popping up on her skin. So she tries different creams and bandages, but nothing seems to do much for it. The next day at school it seems that Chad never made it to school. With what is happening to her hand, she has a feeling what might have happened. When Marshall refuses to do what Tamaya knows is the right thing, go look for him, or else tell someone, she goes into the woods herself. And from there, well all heck breaks loose.
Interspersed within the story are records of a political hearing about the people who made the stuff that is called fuzzy mud. And it is interesting. But I’d like to maybe have the scientists in the story more.
A good story, might be a good read for a reluctant reader because of how quick the story is, without a lot of extras. But it really doesn’t have the heart that Holes did, which has always been a good book for reluctant readers itself. So it was an okay read, but nothing special, and not what I have come to expect from this author.