Author: Laura A.H. Elliott
Series: Shadow #1
Publication Date: September 20, 2011
Roxie has the best night of her life until the popular kids decide they want to celebrate her birthday in a way Roxie never expects––in her attic, with a gift that’s out of this world, and a pact to never tell a living soul what happens next.
Twelve-year-old Roxie wants to be like Adrianne, the popular girl who gets everything she wants––a flock to prowl around the mall with; invitations to parties; and for Hayden, the cutest guy in the eighth grade to, you know, notice her. When Roxie invites all the eighth grade peacocks (code word : popular kids) to her first ever thirteenth birthday party on Halloween, they all come and give her a gift that’s literally out of this world. Roxie astral projects to Planet Popular where she becomes seventeen instantly and gets everything she’s always wanted, but nothing is as it seems. Being a high school peacock is complicated and Roxie will risk everything to be who she thinks she wants to be. Oh yeah, there’s Prom, doppelgangers, a mysterious map, and lots of bad peacocks too.
Even though I don’t normally read books with such a young main character anymore, I had to give this one a try. I’ve always read books with my son (now 15) or before he did to see if he’d like them and to make sure they were appropriate, so I’ve read a lot of books from different age groups. 13 on Halloween would have passed my stamp of approval. It’s a fun, quick book that really, any age could enjoy.
Roxie is in the 8th grade, and she turns 13 on Halloween. She’s not a popular girl, so she decides to have a birthday party and invite the twelve most popular kids in school. To her surprise, they all go, but they have an ulterior motive; they need Roxie. Her life is changed when they astral project to an alternate universe dubbed Planet Popular. Okay, I admit, I giggled a little at that name, but again, these are 12 and 13-year-olds. When Roxie goes there, she’s 17 and uber-popular, but it all comes at a very dangerous risk. Shadow people are desperate to be human, and they can come back as the person instead.
I thought the idea was creative, and found Planet Popular interesting. The adventure Roxie goes on is fast-paced, so there isn’t much of a chance to get bored. However, there were quite a few questions I didn’t feel were answered. I’m sure we’ll find out more in the next book, though.
The author did a great job at capturing the voices of this age group. Roxie was likeable, even though some of her decisions were selfish and immature. Honestly, I was a bit disoriented when I first started the book, and it took a few pages for me to adjust to Roxie’s lingo. She categorizes people and their social status with animals. For instance, the popular kids are peacocks, Roxie is a dodo bird, her brothers are owls, etc. She does easy up on it after the first few pages, though.
Overall, 13 on Halloween is a fun, clean middle grade read. There is talk of puberty and the stuff it entails, but it’s nothing inappropriate. At least not to me. I already read a little bit of the second book, and it’s nice to see Roxie’s voice has matured a little more since she’s in high school.