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The Vigilante Poets of Selwyn Academy

3.70  ·  Rating details ·  2,698 ratings  ·  415 reviews
Whip-smart dialogue and an inside look at the seedy underbelly of reality TV come together in this critically-acclaimed debut perfect for fans of Unreal, John Green, and Frank Portman.

Witty, sarcastic Ethan and his three best friends are students at Selwyn Arts Academy, which has been hijacked by For Art’s Sake, a sleazy reality-television show. In the tradition of Ezra
Hardcover, 336 pages
Published April 8th 2014 by Knopf Books for Young Readers
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3.70  · 
Rating details
 ·  2,698 ratings  ·  415 reviews

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Emery Lord
Feb 04, 2014 rated it it was amazing
What a memorable story on every level--the characters, the setting, the poetry, humor. It takes a deft touch to incorporate academia into fiction without the reader sensing a You Are Learning Here signpost. But, wow does Kate Hattemer have that touch. Literary device, Imagism and references to other works are woven into a story that is at once funny (protag Ethan's triplet sisters are a laugh-out-loud riot) and authentic to teens. All in all, POETS manages to be smart without being unapproachabl ...more
Jan 03, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: reviewed, favorites
I've reread this four times since January (that reread total is only beaten out by I'll Meet You There) and, due to the battle, haven't gotten the chance to really flesh out some thoughts yet. It might be too late; I'm not going to be able to recapture the immediate, wowed impressions I had. But here's what stayed with me.
Remember: this is not a novel, not a memoir, not produced by anyone with artistic skill. It's just about what happened last year. It's about reality TV, a desperate crush on a
Sep 11, 2013 rated it really liked it
4.5 Read as digital ARC.

Recap: we've got a reality TV show, we've got a vigilante long poem, we've got my attention. This book is brilliant, a good match for English/Creative Writing majors, AP English-takers, and (it's so deep and well-written) maybe even for fans of John Green. You will learn about punctuation marks. You will use poetry to examine your feelings AND to fight against the man. You will like it.
Melissa McShane
Selwyn Academy is a school for artists of all kinds: visual, written, dance, theater, music. It’s also the basis for a popular reality show, For Art’s Sake, in which students compete for a major scholarship. Everyone’s addicted to it, except Ethan, Luke, Jackson, and Elizabeth, who for various reasons think it’s degrading and a slap in the face to true art. It’s Luke who comes up with a plan for exposing the show for the cheap, sensationalist crap it is, but when an unexpected development ruins ...more
Jennifer DuBose
Jun 21, 2014 rated it really liked it
Outstanding writing!

I know this is marketed as YA lit, but I think this book is truly for anyone who is interested in reading, literature, or education. The plot and characters were so lovable, and as an English teacher, I appreciated all the many literature and poetry references. This is all around an entertaining and smart read, and I didn't want it to end.
Mar 03, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I bet this is the only YA novel ever to leave the reader with an urge to read Ezra Pound.
Leslie Manning
Nov 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: young-adult
This book by Kate Hattemer turned out to be a delight, not only because it is written with smart kids in mind (and yes, there are a LOT of smart young people out there), but because it is different. The plot is unique, the students' personalities are not cookie cutter, and neither are their relationships with one another. Even with all these great things going for it, thematic value is the book's best asset, offering a glimpse into the poetic, emotional, and comedically dark minds of certain hig ...more
One of the best books I've read all year. Can't wait till April when it's published so that I can shove it in the hands of lots of students. Selwyn Academy is a high school specializing in the arts. Ethan Andrezejczak is an unassuming self-described member of the Untalented caste (okay at music, okay at drawing, but not nearly on the same level artistically as Maura the dancer and Brandon the opera singer and Broadway-bound Miki F-R). Life is fairly predictable for Ethan and his friends until th ...more
Lisa Shafer
Jul 19, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: humor, realistic, ya
Finally! A YA Book That's NOT About Romance!

More and more often lately, YA books are being written for adults who want sexy, romantic teen characters -- and very recently, the trend has been that one of these characters must have a terminal disease.
Vigilante Poets is a tremendously refreshing change.
My favorite thing about this book is how very realistic the main characters are. The male narrator, Ethan, is not sexy, suave, or sophisticated; he's idealistic, clueless about girls, and loyal. He'
Review to come - you all know why, right‽ (I found the interrobang!!)
Apr 08, 2016 rated it it was ok
+lots of nerdy references to rhetorical devices
+the two side friends were fun and interesting characters
-one of the stupidest plots of all time ; in believability and tone, it reminded me of Glee .
-everyone except two side friends were undimensional or cartoons
-serious lack of diversity
-MC white male describes the dreadlocks of his "half-black" female side-friend as beautiful, but not in the way of normal obvious beauty, but more like "undergrowth" or "like the mottled surface of an old car
Apr 11, 2014 rated it really liked it
Ezra Pound, long poems, reality TV, and the best non-talking gerbil in literature. Excellent book.
Paige (Illegal in 3 Countries)
Jan 10, 2014 rated it did not like it
Shelves: arc
See more of my reviews on The YA Kitten! My copy was an ARC I received from the publisher via NetGalley.

Because the idea of framing is so important to this novel and my perception of it, I have a little framing of my own to do. I’m hungry for reality-TV-related novels like this one and Something Real by Heather Demetrios (a new favorite because good God, that is the horror people don’t see when it comes to reality TV). A couple of years ago, I read this nonfiction book Reality Bites Back by Jenn
Brooks Benjamin
May 09, 2014 rated it it was amazing
The prestigious Selwyn Arts Academy is full of brilliantly talented teens. It's full of dance classes, literature classes, vocal classes. But what it's not full of is a TV reality talent show called For Art's Sake that exploits the students for a miniature bump in ratings.

Oh, wait.

Scratch that.

That's exactly what Selwyn Arts Academy has this year.

And the school couldn't be more thrilled. I mean, it's not every day that you get to go to class and maybe run into some huge TV producer and accidenta
May 28, 2014 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: fans of smart kids and rhetorical devices
Recommended to Jennifer by: CLC Library
This young adult novel was a welcome relief from dystopian futures and epic trilogies that I’ve been reading, but the issue of threes does come up. Ethan Andrezejszak is a student at a Minneapolis high school for the arts and thanks to his English teacher, he has become enamored with the tricolon, a rhetorical device that involves a list of three elements such as “I came, I saw, I conquered.” This rhetorical trinity not only represents his three best friends at school—Luke, Elizabeth, and Jackso ...more
Dixie Conley
Jan 16, 2015 rated it did not like it
Shelves: reviewed
I was misled into reading this book by its description. Reality shows, vigilante poets and high school at school for the arts? What's not to love?

In this case? Everything.

The reality show, although being the center that all other matters in the book revolved around, hardly featured in the book. We did not see even one full show played out. And, in fact, it turned out not to be a reality show, but instead, entirely scripted. Which, yeah, we all suspect about reality shows, so not much of a surpri
Sep 23, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: net-galley
This book tells a story through the eyes of a junior in a high school for the artistically inclined. I knew from the title that I had to read this book. Thank you to Net Galley and the publishers for letting me read this in exchange for an honest review. I was drawn into the main character's head with his hard-to-pronounce last name and his endearing characteristics. I thought he was a breath of fresh air and so was his furry counterpart. This book was written very well and wasn't cheapened with ...more
Dec 31, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2014-releases
As artistically crafted and poetry-centric as its name would suggest, this debut made me laugh out loud a couple hundred times or so. Ethan and his friends are poetic misfit idealists, looking to reclaim their school from the artist reality show that’s constantly pervading their lives and education…and breaking Ethan’s heart over one of its stars in the process. The whole thing is more than a little meta when it comes to where the lines between art and reality are joined, and if you’re not sold ...more
Suzanne Dix
This book had me laughing out loud early on in the story (the zero and the eight joke nearly did me in) and while the gaffaws were a fewer and far between toward the middle and end any mention of Baconnaise brought on a fit of giggles.

I was so excited to see the author thank the Public Library of Cincinnati in her acknowledgements. I hadn't realized she was a local author. Definitely looking forward to more books from Kate Hattemer! She really nailed the teen dialogue.

Some language, some sexua
Mary McCoy
Feb 01, 2014 rated it it was amazing
When a sleazy reality tv show called For Art's Sake starts filming at their high school, four teens write a subversive epic poem inspired by Ezra Pound's Cantos against it. But then it sort of backfires, and winds up getting one of their number put on the show and leaves the rest of them feeling betrayed. Also, there is a brave little gerbil named Baconnaise in it and a scene on pg. 244 that totally kills me.

I love books where characters engage with art and big ideas. I'd recommend this one to f
Dec 11, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Dear gods, it is going to be near impossible to choose 5 of the best books I read this year.
This has been on my kindle forever and I have only gotten to read it this weekend.
Yet another example that YA is where is at,imo really, for some of the best writing around at the moment.
There's arts and poetry and reality TV and the mythopoeic appropriation of culture in this book - hell it almost made want and re read Ezra Pound.
A highly recommended deliciously intelligent, cleverly written book with l
Feb 14, 2015 rated it it was amazing
But I can also tell you - not from experience but from the glimpses found in daydreams and books and cold hard thought - that once you've recognized a person as a person, you can start to love that person well. It's an awful thing to learn, but it's the best thing in the world to know.
Apr 21, 2015 rated it really liked it
When their Minnesota arts school is taken over by a reality television show, four friends use their wits to foment a rebellion and recapture their school. It's nice to see intellectual and active youth going countercultural, analyzing why art is important to them, and the book has humor and heart.
Ashley Blake
Apr 29, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Unforgettable voice, smart, and funny!
Dec 05, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ya
Ethan Andrezejczak attends Selwyn Academy, a fine arts high school in Minneapolis, Minnesota. He’s the narrator of Kate Hattemer’s debut YA novel The Vigilante Poets of Selwyn Academy. His life revolves around hanging with his friends Jackson, Elizabeth and the too-cool-for-their-friend-group, Luke, and teaching Jackson’s gerbil, Baconnaise circus tricks. Ethan pines for ballerina Maura and loathes Miki Frigging Reagler from afar. Maura and Miki are two of the stars of the reality show For Art’s ...more
Danielle Routh
Dec 11, 2017 rated it liked it
I really liked this book at first. I liked it so much, in fact, that I was already mentally preparing a space for it in my overflowing bookcases because I was sure I'd want to keep it.

Now, I'm not so sure. The book started to decline for me after Luke joined the show and acted OOC for the rest of the story. We're given a flimsy excuse of "this is really how he is, you just didn't know him," but it is flimsy and doesn't feel realistic. Calling a book that deals with reality TV unrealistic feels a
Apr 30, 2018 rated it really liked it
Loved it. Fun YA read set in an arts high school in Minneapolis. A reality TV show has contracted with the school to make a season of For Arts Sake, following 19 students/contestants as they compete for college scholarship money. Ethan and his friends are not amused. They are, however, amusing and intelligent characters. The end stretches credibility a bit, but it's still worth reading.

What drew me into this book was seeing a friend's screenshot of one of the characters trying to open a door wit
Kate Crabtree
Jan 23, 2019 rated it liked it
This is a super intelligent and thoughtful book, and it’s use of Pound as a framework is great, although that at times feels stretched a bit thin. It has everything I love- reality tv! Teens at a private school! Art! Yum! But certain details of the book didn’t feel plausible enough for me to stay engaged with the story.
Marjorie Ingall
Dec 11, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: young-adult
YOU GUYS, I ADORED THIS. The only reason it’s not on my Tablet magazine list of the Best Jewish Books of 2014 is because I don’t think it’s Jewish enough, even by my incredibly lax standards. But holy crap is it funny and deftly crafted and smart.

The poets of the title are four friends — Luke, Jackson, Elizabeth and our narrator Ethan — who are horrified by a reality show being shot in their fancy private arts high school. (It’s called For Art’s Sake, and it purports to be about finding the bes
Kimi (Geeky Chiquitas)
May 29, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Originally posted at Geeky Chiquitas

Reviewed by: Audrey

Actual rating: 4.5

Ethan and his groups of friends decide to fight against a reality tv show being filmed in their school via long poems. They believe that the tv show is ruining their school and taking away their freedom. While studying Ezra Pound, they get the idea to use long poems to take away the reality tv show and show their fellow students what's going on. Luke, one of Ethan's friends and the one who came up with the idea of rebellion
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52 weeks, 52 books: Week 2015.4: Vigilante Poets 1 31 Jan 24, 2015 05:46AM  
Mock Printz 2020: The Vigilante Poets of Selwyn Academy by Kate Hattemer 7 112 Sep 23, 2014 05:33AM  
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