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Sidwell, "Evertaster" (reviewed by Scott Parkin) Options · View
Posted: Monday, September 03, 2012 4:28:11 PM

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Title: Evertaster
Author: Adam Glendon Sidwell
Publisher: Future House Publishing
Genre: Fiction
Year Published: 2012
Number of Pages: 296
Binding: Trade Paperback
ISBN10: 0615654495
ISBN13: 978-0615654492
Price: $9.99 (print); $2.99 (Kindle)

Reviewed by Scott Parkin for the Association for Mormon Letters

Eleven year old Guster Johnsonville is not just a picky eater, he might be the pickiest eater alive. In an effort to find something--anything--that Guster will eat, his family visits local New Orleans, where he discovers that he might be a legendary Evertaster, one whose sense of taste is so refined that he can identify the diet of the cows that produced the butter, the size of sugar grains used, or the tragedy of a single extra drop of lemon flavor in an entire batch of cookies.

After visiting a patisserie where the chef recognizes his talent and entrusts to him an ancient eggbeater, Guster, his mom, and three siblings soon find themselves embroiled in an international conspiracy of spies, chefs, and television hosts to discover the One Recipe that will bring peace to the world--and satisfy his own hunger. But first they have to identify, then find, the perfect ingredients for this recipe by decoding clues first created more than five hundred years ago.

I was drawn to read this book for all the wrong reasons. I don't normally appreciate middle-grade stories; they're generally too coarse, silly, and frenetic for my tastes. But it turns out that when I was thirty nine years old I heard a song about people called supertasters (thank you TMBG and No!), and the thought of a story based around that same general idea was just too delicious not to read.

Fortunately, the book delivers. "Evertaster" is a middle-grade adventure that gleefully explores exotic locations, secret societies, conflicting loyalties, and personal desires in an expansive, delightfully creative romp through a strange and interesting world populated by wonderfully bizarre characters. It's a fast-paced and cleanly written story that delivers both startling imagination and a strong character conflict in a fun and entertaining package.

If I were to pick on anything it would be a slightly rocky start and an oddly elongated climax that I thought belabored its point with too much repetition of an already well-established idea. But those are tiny nitpicks that I had to work hard to come up with. While I generally like to write semi-deconstructive essays as part of my reviews, "Evertaster" provides little to deconstruct. It succeeds on its own terms and fulfills on its promises, with no other pretentions.

This is a fun, entertaining, and meaningful book that will bring smiles not only to young readers, but to their parents as well. This appears to be the first of a series that I look forward to reading despite being well older than the target audience. Highly recommended.
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