Ok usually I don't complain about non-literary elements in a book but I have to say that I really dislike the cover for Don't Call Me Ishmael by Michael Gerard Bauer. The whale with the spring on it is never discussed in the book. I realize the whale part has tie-ins to Moby Dick but why does it say Ahoy Sucker! on it?
Digression over. This book reminded me a lot of The Wednesday Wars which I loved. But this one just didn't have the spark for me that WW did. I can see a high school class using this and comparing themes with Moby Dick but are there really high school classes that read MD?
Another bothersome part for me is all the bullying. I don't have personal bullying memories from my own middle/high school years but I knew a few tiresome folk who liked to nag others. Unfortunately, I've yet to read a YA novel that really nails 'the bully'. Too many times they are over-the-top in my opinion and this book was no exception. The bully, Barry Bagsley was very predictable and unrealistic.
I liked Scobie...he was a great character. I liked to picture him "screwing up his face" as Bauer put it. It even made me flinch a few times.
Don't Call Me Ishmael made it onto my to-read pile because it was picked as one of the top 20 for the Thumb's Up! award this year in Michigan. I have to say I think there are many stronger contenders in the bunch.