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Sketchy Behavior

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The Advocate

Sketchy Behavior by Erynn Mangum

Reviewed by Lori Fox

"Erynn's characters are fun and funny, exactly the kind of people that you would enjoy being friends with, if only to have a front row seat to their lives."

Kate Carter is a 16 year old girl with only one real talent or interest---drawing. Not even boys can make the equation after that one bad date (don't ask).

What makes Kate's drawing ability into a true talent isn't her technical skill, although that certainly helps. What really lies behind her talent is her ability to really see the subject in her mind's eye. Even without looking at him.

So when her art teacher begins a series on practical careers in the art field, her first assignment is to try her hand at criminal profiling. The result? A near photographic picture of a man she's never seen before. A man responsible for the murder of several women in the immediate area.

While her drawing of the killer aids in his capture, it also throws her directly into the role of a news celebrity. Which wouldn't be so bad, except that the killer wasn't working alone, and now Kate seems to be the new target.

Erynn Mangum is the author of both the Lauren Holbrook (Miss Match) series, and the Maya Davis (Cool Beans) series. While the former books fall into the chick-lit/humorous romance genre, Sketchy Behavior is her first YA novel.

It's no secret that I'm a huge Erynn Mangum fan, particularly of her Lauren Holbrook series. Erynn's characters are fun and funny, exactly the kind of people that you would enjoy being friends with, if only to have a front row seat to their lives. Her books have always been strongly character driven, with the plot serving more as the thread that holds the tinsel together to form the garland. Not particularly strong, but serveing to keep the interesting bits together.

Mangum's Maya Davis series showed some growth in her plotting and writing skills, but toned down some of the silly romp that makes her characters so endearing. Sketchy Behavior continues this trend. Compared to her earlier novels, Sketchy Behavior has a stronger, more defined plot, and while character is still the most important part, they are no longer the only driving element. Is this a good thing? Maybe. As an Erynn Mangum novel, I'd like to see a lot more of the fun character. The more serious nature of the plot (serial killer targets teen girl) instantly reduces the playful nature that I expect out of her books. To judge it as a stand alone novel, I would consider it a pretty good YA, though a little light on believability.

I think that if Mangum continues to build her plotting and story telling skills, her books will soon be ranked as highly as any other good youth or women's book in the Christian publishing world. The growth is noticeable from book to book, and she has a natural talent and a stockpile of wonderful characters. But, for now, I'm perfectly happy to visit Lauren Holbrook's world a few more times.

Lori Fox is a freelance writer who is working on her first novel as well as writing reviews for TitleTrakk.com. In addition to writing, she enjoys reading, making jewelry, and taking as many trips to Walt Disney World as possible with her wonderful husband Kyle. Visit her online at her website.