Title: The Temperature of Me and You
Author: Brian Zepka
Publisher: Disney Books
Length: 416 Pages
Category: Young Adult, Sci-Fi/Fantasy
Rating: 2 Stars
At a Glance: It’s entirely possible I had unrealistic expectations for this book, given the powerhouse that is Disney editing and publishing behind it. I wish I could say The Temperature of Me and You is a perfect, or at least near-perfect, book, or that I liked it. Much to my disappointment, I can’t say I did.
Reviewed By: Lisa
Blurb: Sixteen-year-old Dylan Highmark thought his winter was going to be full of boring shifts at the Dairy Queen, until he finds himself in love with a boy who’s literally too hot to handle.
Dylan has always wanted a boyfriend, but the suburbs surrounding Philadelphia do not have a lot in the way of options. Then, in walks Jordan, a completely normal (and undeniably cute) boy who also happens to run at a cool 110 degrees Fahrenheit. When the boys start spending time together, Dylan begins feeling all kinds of ways, and when he spikes a fever for two weeks and is suddenly coughing flames, he thinks he might be suffering from something more than just a crush.
Jordan forces Dylan to keep his symptoms a secret. But as the pressure mounts and Dylan becomes distant with his closest friends and family, he pushes Jordan for answers. Jordan’s revelations of why he’s like this, where he came from, and who’s after him leaves Dylan realizing how much first love is truly out of this world. And if Earth supports life that breathes oxygen, then love can only keep Jordan and Dylan together for so long.
Review: Brian Zepka’s debut novel, The Temperature of Me and You, is not a book about teenage superheroes. The story is about two boys with strange and impossible powers, yes, but they are not superheroes in the sense that they fight supervillains, seek justice for all, and save the world in the process. It’s more accurate to say they’re trying to figure out how to acclimate to and live with these powers even though that seems an impossible feat, and they do this while running from the shady megacorporation (the ostensible villain) responsible for turning Jordan Ator into a human torch and, by his close proximity to Dylan, Dylan acquires this power too. Unless I missed it, how or why it’s contagious and passes from Jordan to Dylan but not from Jordan and Dylan to anyone else was one of those pesky little questions I was left wishing had been better explored and developed.
Dylan also somehow acquires an unfortunate and unreliable “upgrade” with his fire power, which he has a difficult time controlling and makes him even more of an outcast at school than he already was. I felt an awful lot of sympathy for him as he struggled not only with his lack of control but also in his relationship with Jordan, and with his two best friends. Dylan’s new powers alienate him from Perry and Kirsten because he can’t/won’t tell them what’s happening to him, so he chooses to ghost them instead, which causes hurt feelings and friction between them.
The Temperature of Me and You gets all the angsts and dilemmas and dramas that come with crushes and first loves and friendships right, which works in its favor. There is also the requisite bully who, in this case, is misunderstood and simply trying to figure out who she is. When she finally finds the courage to confess her secret to someone kind and caring enough to listen—that happens to be Dylan—it hits emotionally, as it should. Sometimes, however, the characters do come across very much like teenagers written by an adult who hasn’t spent much time with teens recently, but maybe that’s only my perception. Some of the other characters who round out the cast include Jordan’s aunt and uncle, who are, by and large, shadowy background figures; Dylan’s little sister, who doesn’t influence the story much; and his parents, who are supportive and loving (sometimes cringingly so), but they are also inexplicably unconcerned, or under-concerned, about Dylan’s sudden and mysterious “illness” that causes him to run an insanely high fever. Then again, the abstracted parent stereotype isn’t new to YA.
In the end, the superpowers storyline was little more than a different-ish way of delivering Dylan and Jordan to boyfriend status. Unfortunately, it substituted for them spending time getting to know each other so readers could buy into their relationship. I wish I could say The Temperature of Me and You is a perfect, or at least near-perfect, book, or that it’s good. I’ll admit it’s entirely possible I had unrealistically high expectations for it, given the powerhouse that is Disney editing and publishing behind it, but I don’t feel it’s unfair to say it’s important, when a book is written in the first person, present tense, to feel the sense of immediacy and connection with the point-of-view character the narration is supposed to deliver. I won’t say that connection never happened, but it was less frequent that I wanted it to be. The story does touch on some important subjects that teens need and deserve to see. And, as always, the beauty of a book is in the eye of each of its readers.
You can buy The Temperature of Me and You here:
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