Publisher: Algonquin Young Readers
Date of publication: October 15th, 2019
Genre: Children’s Fiction, Middle Grade
Can Kit’s super-weird superpower save her world?
Kit-with-a-small-k is navigating middle school with a really big, really strange secret: When she’s stressed, she turns into a naked mole rat.
It first happened after kit watched her best friend, Clem, fall and get hurt during an acrobatic performance on TV. Since then, the transformations keep happening—whether kit wants them to or not. Kit can’t tell Clem about it, because after the fall, Clem just hasn’t been herself. She’s sad and mad and gloomy, and keeping a secret of her own: the real reason she fell.
A year after the accident, kit and Clem still haven’t figured out how to deal with all the ways they have transformed—both inside and out. When their secrets come between them, the best friends get into a big fight. Somehow, kit has to save the day, but she doesn’t believe she can be that kind of hero. Turning into a naked mole rat isn’t really a superpower. Or is it?
Kit’s Mom had a tattoo that wound around her left wrist.Naked Mole Rat Saves the World by Karen Rivers
I am always on the lookout for middle-grade books. I have a tween who devours books left and right. My son can’t read them fast enough. So, when I read the blurb for Naked Mole Rat Saves the World, I thought of him. From the blurb, I thought that this would be an excellent book to read. But, after reading the book, I do have some doubts about letting him read it.
The storyline for Naked Mole Rat Saves the World centers around two friends, kit and Clem. kit (always spelled with a lowercase k) lives with her mother above her mother’s beauty salon. kit is dealing with a lot for a girl of 12. Her mother is a famous ex-singer who is agoraphobic (among other things). She never leaves her apartment or beauty salon. That leaves kit shouldering a majority of her mother’s responsibilities.
On top of that, kit is tiny due to being born a micro-preemie, and she suffers from Alopecia Universalis. She has zero hair on her body and is often mistaken for a cancer patient. It is a lot for a 12-year-old to handle.
Clem is kit’s best friend. She and her brother, Jorge, come from a loud, vibrant family. Clem’s family are acrobats, and they are good at it. So good, that they decide to compete on a show like America’s Got Talent. It’s on that show that Clem has an awful accident. That accident has a ripple effect on her and kit’s life.
The plotline for Naked Mole Rat Saves the World was steady. It is perfect for younger kids or adults who like books that are on the slower side. There was some lag, but the author was able to get the book back on track. I also loved the world and character building.
I felt terrible for kit in Naked Mole Rat Saves the World. She was raising herself. She had to deal with a lot for a 12-year-old. Her best friend changed (and not in a good way), her mother was falling deeper into her mental illness, and there was this guy robbing people dressed up as Batman. No wonder she had anxiety. She was alone when she first changed into a naked mole-rat, and it scared the bejesus out of her. There was a point where I wondered if transforming into the mole rat was all in her head (a symptom of her anxiety), but I was proven wrong.
Poor Clem. Her life drastically changed after her accident on national TV. She turned into this Goth/emo girl who was nasty to everyone. She pushed people away (including kit) and acted out. She became fascinated by her biological grandfather, who was one of the victims in the Jonestown Massacre. I was worried about her, and I couldn’t believe that her parents and grandparents weren’t concerned with her drastic personality change!!!!
There were several sub plotlines in the book that were interesting too. Such as Jackson and why kit hated him. I got why she hated him (he shouldn’t have done that). I also understood why he did it. He was hurting and wanted kit to hurt with him.
I didn’t like Samara. I know this is a kids’ book, but I wanted to throat punch her after that one scene. I was MAD. How dare she say that to kit. Not only was unacceptable, but she overstepped her bounds. kit was allowed to have her dreams and wish her mother could do things.
The end of Naked Mole Rat Saves the World was the best part of the book. The author was able to merge all the plotlines. I also loved that kit was able to use her superpower to save her mother’s world!!!!
I do want to include a warning about Naked Mole Rat Saves the World. Several subjects come up that might not be appropriate for younger kids. To name some of them: bullying, Jonestown (and how the people died), depression, mental illness, and anxiety. Now all these as a whole isn’t bad, but kids might have questions about them. Also, some kids might be triggered them. So be prepared to answer questions while reading the book.
I would give Naked Mole Rat Saves the World a Young Teen rating. There is no sex. There is no language. There is very mild violence. I would recommend that no one under the age of 13 read this book.
I am on the fence if I would reread Naked Mole Rat Saves the World. I am also on the fence if I would recommend it to family and friends.
**I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book**