As many of you know, we have an affinity for David Arnold.  His first book, Mosquitoland was our first ever book club pick and we still use our photo from that day as our Twitter profile photo. Today, we give you a sneak peek at his upcoming Kids of Appetite, which is supremely, highly anticipated read in our ranks.

From the book flap:

Victor Benucci and Madeline Falco have a story to tell.
It begins with the death of Vic’s father.
It ends with the murder of Mad’s uncle.
The Hackensack Police Department would very much like to hear it.
But in order to tell their story, Vic and Mad must focus on all the chapters in between.

This is a story about:

1. A coded mission to scatter ashes across New Jersey.
2. The momentous nature of the Palisades in winter.
3. One dormant submarine.
4. Two songs about flowers.
5. Being cool in the traditional sense.
6. Sunsets & ice cream & orchards & graveyards.
7. Simultaneous extreme opposites.
8. A narrow escape from a war-torn country.
9. A story collector.
10. How to listen to someone who does not talk.
11. Falling in love with a painting.
12. Falling in love with a song.
13. Falling in love.


Overall:  I have discussed with several bloggers the difficulty in writing reviews and finding the words for books that you love.  This is one of those books that I loved, so please excuse me as I blubber my way through this review.

There are books which can only be described as they’re own thesaurus.  Just like the book flap hints, there are secret words and idioms shaped and defined by the characters in the story that give you new and useful proverbs to incorporate into your daily lingo.  Kids of Appetite is such a book.  It is a SUPER RACEHORSE (see what I did there?).  Other terms this book will define and incorporate into your everyday language:

  • Sideways hug
  • Tiny paths going nowhere
  • Future automobile rental entreprenuer
  • Till we’re old-new
  • Hinton vortex

Clever language aside, this book is about creating your own story, your part in someone else’s story and fitting into those already established ones that may be stifling or difficult to deal with.  It’s about familiarity breeding contempt and overcoming those feelings .  It’s about the ripples you create in others lives.  It will make you laugh out loud, but it will also make you cry, especially f you’re really sentimental like me. It stayed with me long after I finished it in the best possible way.

The book essentially begins as the introduction to a thriller, even though it is very much a contemporary YA.  There is the present, but there are shifts to the past. The present is an enigma, as much as the past, but the unfolding of the past ties you to the present moment as the story progresses and the reader shifts from outside to insider.  Arnold walks a delicate tightrope, but the emotional pay-off of his method of storytelling is HUGE. This book made me FEEL SO MUCH EMPATHY FOR THE CHARACTERS, THEIR STORIES, THEIR EXPERIENCES.

We can’t talk about KOA without mentioning Mosquitoland which obviously influences its successor.  A few of the parallels I noted:

  • a runaway
  • a journey
  • a mysterious group of strangers
  • a parent not living up to their expectations
  • a mystery

All these themes are tied together by the same author who wields his pen in such diverse ways even when covering some similar themes.  These books are NOTHING ALIKE otherwise.  Speaking of diversity, that is one overarching difference between Mosquitoland and KOA.  This book is rich in diversity.  There are  minority characters with truthful, heartwrenching back stories in this novel–from disabilities to refugees to self-harm, there is nothing Arnold doesn’t tackle with the care and tact the story and, most importantly, its readers deserve.


Judge a Book by its Cover: Kids of Appetite’s cover has the same appeal as Mosquitoland’s it makes you kind of tilt you head and wonder “What’s going on there?”  By the time you finish reading the book, you are hugging the book to your chest and calling every detail by name.


Me Talk Pretty:  David Arnold’s writing style in this novel is natural, sarcastic, and sage.  These are John Green teens without the back draw of being overly precocious.   Below are some samples of my favorite quotes from the book.  Mind you, we received an ARC from the publisher for review, so these quotes may not be exactly presented in the final copy:

 “And only in a place of nothingness can somethingness be found…”

“We’re undesirables, so we desire each other.”

“We may not have the power to choose setting or plot, but we can choose what kind of character we want to be.”

“It is no accident, the memories that last. They are survivors.”

“It cost almost nothing to tell a stranger almost everything.”


Body Count:  I will leave this here for you to interpret.  “I was there when the light went out of his eyes.”


The Chosen One:  Victor Benucci is a SUPER Racehorse.


Just. Why.  No such device exists in this book. It is perfect.


He Said/She Said:  What haven’t I already said about language in this book?  KOA is an emotional journey told in an unconventional, quirky manner. Told from two perspectives, the novel also includes excerpts from police interrogations of two main characters.  Mad is the secret super hero ninja.  Vic is a boy struggling to find a place in a world that overwhelmingly throwing him for a loop.  You don’t need chapter headings to know whose perspective is currently being told in this book.


Don’t Believe the Hype: David Arnold has reached auto-buy status with me.  He should be for you, too.


Open tab/Last call:  If you read this feature, I always try to have a crafty drink picked out for the author based on the book.  However, after reading Kids of Appetite, I just can’t do that.  It would be wasteful.  How about this, adult beverage or not, we meet up for ice cream first?  You can bring the Kids.  I’ll have this playlist on repeat, except it’s sorely lacking the Lettuce Wrap.


Kids of Appetite releases on September 20, 2016.  Viking Books for Young Readers, 352 pages.



Win a signed ARC of Kids of Appetite AND a download of David Arnold’s album Say It Out Loud inspired by Mosquitoland and Kids of Appetite!

Simply follow these rules:

  1. Follow our blog AND Twitter
  2. Tell us why you’re a Kid of Appetite in the comment section of this post or Retweet and comment on our First Reads Friday Pinned Tweet on Twitter. Make sure to give us your Twitter handle in your comment below. Two ways to enter!
  3. US Only–meaning you must have a US mailing address at the time the winner of the contest is announced. You also need a valid email address to receive the Say It Out Loud audio download
  4. Enter by Thursday, September 15th, midnight EST
  5. Winner will be announced on Friday, September 16th