Press and Reviews for The Last Mall Rat

“Forever Young-Adult,” a feature article by Cathy Resmer about Erik E. Esckilsen that appeared in Seven Days newspaper, Burlington, Vermont — Dec. 18-24, 2003 issue. Read more of Erik’s pieces in Seven Days.

Review Excerpts:

“…Readers will recognize more than a grain of truth in Esckilsen’s depiction of mall culture, from the security guards who profile teens to shoppers who demand clerks’ undivided attention but have no real intention of buying…there’s an alluring urban-legend quality to the theme, and kids can add this to their own stock of local mall lore.”
—EB, The Bulletin
Recomendation: Gr. 6-9

The Last Mall Rat presents a practical and ethical dilemma: to what extent will apparently decent teenagers violate their own presumed moral codes in order to make money?…Esckilsen’s style…is initially so hyped-up as to resemble a kid in a television commercial, but rapidly settles down into a more deliberate voice that reflects teenage modes of speech without calling attention to itself. This is a thoughtful exploration of the mistakes even ordinary teens can make and — in sometimes frightening fashion — the ways in which one’s actions can lead to serious and unintended consequences…”
—Coop Reener, Blackshear Elementary School, Austin, TX
School Library Journal
Recommendation: Gr. 7-10

“…The setting is the town of Shunpike Falls, a deteriorating area ‘in the middle of nowhere’ experiencing rising violence and skinhead gangs. In this, his first novel, Esckilsen makes the depressing town and its Onion River Mall convincing…With a dark sense of humor rather like M.T. Anderson’s in Burger Wuss, this is an intriguing read for junior high students, with a convincing moral about taking responsibility.”
—Paula Rohrlick, KLIATT
Recommendation: KLIATT Codes: J
Recommended for junior high school students

“…Despite a contrived, tidy ending, this clever, believable first novel captures teen boredom and frustration, while never evading the moral issues. A subplot…further underlines the importance of standing up for what is right. Realistic dialogue and a keen sense of what matters to teens will draw them to this quick read.”
—Debbie Carton, Booklist
Recommendation: Gr. 7-10

“Although the plot of this story is a bit unusual, the familiar setting might appeal to the many youth who hang out or are employed at the mall. If there is a kooky kind of subculture that exists among mall employees, this novel is one of the first since Richard Peck’s Secrets of the Shopping Mall (Delacorte, 1979) to alert readers to such a phenomenon. Nevertheless, beyond the insider knowledge about how mall employees really feel about the hundreds of mindless customers who come their way lies the story of what happens when groups get caught up in what start as simple pranks…young people will identify with why the money-making venture of Mitch and his friends has so much appeal. For those intrigued by the story, they will find a book that is well written. Shelve it for those few quirky readers.”
—O’Quinn, Voya
Recommendation: VOYA Codes: 3Q 3P M J (Readable without serious defects; Will appeal with pushing; Middle School, defined as grades 6 to 8; Junior High, defined as grades 7 to 9

“…The characters are stereotypical, but the author creates a whole world in Shunpike Falls, complete with a gossipy newspaper, class divisions and family problems… Some descriptions are clunky, but the occasional mall lingo is fun and adds to the offbeat tone… Despite some rough edges, this may be a good fit for readers who like their novels on the dark and quirky side.”
—Publisher’s Weekly
Recommendaation: Ages 12-up

“…First-time novelist Esckilsen hits readers with a succession of varying scenes that can be difficult to follow at first, but eventually the story becomes interesting and gains an element of suspense. It’s a credible effort.”
—Kirkus Reviews
Recommendation: 12-15

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