cover image Satellite Down

Satellite Down

Rob Thomas. Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing, $16 (272pp) ISBN 978-0-689-80957-6

Television writer Thomas (Doing Time: Notes from the Undergrad) takes deadly funny aim at a Channel One-styled operation in a thought-provoking, profane narrative of a teen journalist who becomes a TV celebrity. Patrick Sheridan, 17, gets his first taste of the outside world when he lands a slot as a news reporter on the cable TV show Classroom Direct. Suddenly he is catapulted from a tiny Texas town and the oppressive rules of his arch-conservative parents to an unsupervised existence in his own Hollywood apartment--with America's favorite starlet just down the hall. The story unfolds snappily as Patrick learns the ropes at his ""dream job"" and becomes a teen heartthrob, along the way losing his ingenuousness, self-respect and virginity (with the starlet, natch). Just when it appears to be another cautionary, if fresh, tale about a small-town kid whose head gets swelled by fame, the novel veers off in an unexpected direction with Patrick running away to Ireland in search of his familial roots. But he can't escape himself nor his demons, and he brings his Irish idyll crashing down around him. Thomas sets up what seems certain to be a cataclysmic denouement, then leaves the threads of the story (and no doubt many readers' tempers) frayed in a flat-footed epilogue. A disappointing end to an otherwise fine read. Ages 12-up. (June)