Sunday, June 15, 2014

Review: Tween Hobo: Off the Rails

Title: Tween Hobo: Off the Rails
Author: Alena Smith, Kate Harmer
Format: egalley
Pub. Date: June 17th 2014
Source: Netgalley & Gallery Books


Two and a half stars.


Tween Hobo is a book based on the Twitter account @TweenHobo, which follows the tales of a fifth grader who decides that she's had enough of her life in school and starts anew, jumping onto a freight train to travel the rails. Complete with both tweets and prose, this is a book that combines a Justin Beiber obsession of epic proportions, social media, and life stretched across America with snark, humor, and a sense of style.

I think my main issue with this book is that I have no idea who this book's intended audience is. On the surface, it's clearly a middle grade book. The little hobo protagonist is young, has obsessions with things like Twitter, Beiber, glitter, rainbows, and nail polish. So many girls have been through that phase. And yet, there's vocabulary and humor that seems geared towards adults. There's talk of cathouses and women of the night, and the word "dick" is used. Don't get me wrong, I'm not stranger to these themes or language, but when I'm expecting a breezy middle grade read, it's off-putting. Is it satirical? Maybe. I was left laughing at parts because it was humor I got, but then it turned to frustration because I'm not so sure a kid would find it funny for the same reasons.

Though I knew going in that this book was based off of social media, the obsession was a bit much. I don't think anyone should be quite so attached to the internet and social networking as she is, I don't care whether you're twelve or 57. The Beiber obsession, however, was completely dead on. I know girls that age who feel very much the same way about him, for whatever reason.

I found her humor at times to be brilliant. She sometimes seemed like a wise little adult. But then it would go back to talk of tweets and spelling words with z's at the end instead of s's and then the charm would be gone. It was cute at times but also glaringly unrealistic; no parents came after her, her phone was always charged and attached to wi-fi, etc.

I have no idea who to recommend this to, other than Beiber fans or Twitter fanatics. What age? I've got not a clue. All in all, I feel like a book isn't necessary. If you follow the Twitter account, you'll get a sense of the book, and in my opinion it could have all just stayed there.

Thanks to Netgalley and Gallery Books for my copy in exchange for an honest review.


  1. Sorry to hear that it wasn't that great. I kind of wish it was better so I could justify picking it up for myself, it sounds like it should be so good.

  2. Oww, that sounds pretty bad. The entire time I was reading the review I kept thinking "where is this child's parents?" Seriously where were they?

    Thanks for the review and I think I will skip this one.

  3. Cute concept but I am not into middle grade.

    1. I am when it's done well.... Unfortunately that's not often the case.

  4. This one sounds like it was a bit all over the place. And are her parents still paying her phone bill, yet not using her phone to track her down?