Book Review – Pop Flies, Robo-Pets, and Other Disasters

Satoshi is back in Japan after living in the US and he feels like a total outcast. He’s been gone a long time, he’s way too good in his English class, and he worries that his disabled sister and confused grandfather will attract unwanted attention. On top of it all, there’s only one spot left on the baseball team! Can he juggle his school, sports, and home life while still fitting in with his friends?

Pop Flies, Robo-Pets, and Other Disasters paints a wonderful portrait of school-age awkwardness and the desire to fit in. This story takes place entirely in Japan, where the cultural differences between Japanese and American school systems are highlighted, especially with student-teacher relations. The culture shock goes both ways for Satoshi and his friends, making this a poignant read for children who feel like they just don’t fit in anywhere.

I listened to this with my 9 year old who absolutely loved it! He did struggle to keep the names straight, but the story is fast-paced, exciting, and kid-friendly without being babyish. The story trusts that the middle-grade readers will be able to handle heavy subjects like dementia right along with things like the desire to get good grades. It struck a great balance, and we both looked forward to each listening session.

We did find that the sound effects were intrusive at times. It was a great addition, especially at the baseball games, but some sounds went on way too long and became distracting (like when Satoshi gets a haircut). We had mixed feelings about the ending, too, but overall, we loved it!

Pop Flies, Robo-Pets, and Other Disasters is a refreshing middle-grade story about fitting in, friendship — and of course baseball! It’s a gem of a story that’s perfect for any sports-loving kid.

CW: Parents, there is some mild language and 2 plot-pertinent uses of the R-word.

Thanks to NetGalley, the publisher, and the author for providing a copy of this audiobook in exchange for my honest review.

What’s new? Reviews!

I am pleased to announce that I am now a NetGalley reviewer! For years, I’ve been envious of the ARC reviewers who get sneak peeks of new releases, and I’m thrilled to finally join their ranks. Unsurprisingly, I was a little over-enthusiastic with my requests on day one, and five of my requests were approved within 48 hours of joining. A little daunting, yes, but I’m over the moon.

I enjoy all literature bizarre and unsettling, so most of the titles I plan to review will be horror or at least weird. So far, so good.

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My first book up for review, Welcome to Brookville by Kelly Ennis, was a quick and dreamy read. I’ll be honest, I picked this title based on the cover in the hopes of some serious atmospheric weirdness. WOW did Ennis deliver! This collection of vaguely interconnected short stories takes place in the town of Brookville, where nothing normal seems to happen. If there had been giant rabbits spouting non sequiturs in their living room (spoiler: there aren’t) I’d almost believe it could be a Lynch movie. Almost. I felt like the most pertinent pages ripped out of my copy, so I could never say for sure what was going on, but I think I liked it.

The overarching themes of imprisonment and anxiety brought even the mildest psychological horror to the forefront. I can’t say what this book was about, exactly, but it left me with some disturbing and frustrating after-images, and in that way, it was successful.

Click here to see the full review.

There are four more books to review in the next couple weeks, and countless more in the pipeline. Mount TBR just got a lot higher.

Next up, The House of Dust by Noah Broyles.