Inspired is the story of Rocket Malone: a smart, sensitive teen whose life, friends, family and body keep changing with every breath she draws, until it’s hard for her to breathe at all. As if life wasn’t complicated enough, she discovers that her mysterious Aunt Polly is actually Polyhymnia, a Greek Muse who desperately needs Rocket’s help to protect Earth from Zeus and an angry nymph named Echo. Juggling middle school In Los Angeles and apprentice Muse training on magical Mount Helikon seems daunting for a girl who hates art (despite being the daughter of a famous glassblower). Rocket struggles to master the science of inspiration, so she can ride Pegasus and heal Ryan, a tormented (and adorable) teen who lost his home in a fire. As she strives to inspire others, Rocket learns to trust her own voice and realizes that the most important spark she must tend is her own -- because the brighter she shines, the more she lights the way for those around her.
Plot: Bernardo’s fast-paced novel takes readers through the emotional roller coaster of being a teenager trying to find her identity. Her brimming-with-action novel packs a few twists of its own, as Rocket finds more to her world than she believed existed, and mysteries from classic mythology begin to unravel themselves before her.
Prose: Rocket Malone is as fiery and determined as her name implies (even though she reminds readers that she's actually named after arugula), and as her snappy dialogue and angsty powderkeg thoughts reaffirm; however, at times, she is revealed to be a vulnerable young woman trying to find her way and purpose. The change in fonts in the manuscript is noticeable and confusing; the font that takes over in the later part of the novel is much more legible.
Originality: Bernardo draws upon classical and contemporary literature and mythology to present the perfect blend of history, fantasy and entertainment, with the author's own signature style.
Character Development: Rocket and her friends are presented as typical Los Angeles moody teenagers, until it is revealed to readers that other realms and fantastical creatures lurk below the surface, for both good and for evil. Bernardo devotes much attention to the creative and memorable characterization of the unexpected antagonist of the novel, the nymph Echo and her obsession with a lack of creativity and uniqueness.
Date Submitted: August 21, 2017