The summer before her junior year, paleontology geek Natalie Page lands a coveted internship at an Ice Age dig site near Austin. Natalie, who’s also a plus-size fashion blogger, depends on the retro style she developed to shield herself from her former bullies, but vintage dresses and perfect lipstick aren’t compatible with prospecting for fossils in the Texas heat. But nothing is going to dampen Natalie’s spirit — she’s exactly where she wants to be, and she gets to work with her hero, a rock-star paleontologist who hosts the most popular paleo podcast in the world. And then there’s Chase the intern, who’s seriously cute, and Cody, a local boy who’d be even cuter if he were less of a grouch.
It’s a summer that promises to be about more than just mammoths.
Until it isn’t.
When Natalie’s hero turns out to be anything but, and steals the credit for one of her accomplishments, Nat has to unearth the confidence she needs to stand out in a field dominated by dudes. To do this, she’ll have to let her true self shine, even if that means defying all the rules for the sake of a major discovery.
Originally from New York, Jill Baguchinsky currently lives in southwestern Florida with a couple of very strange cats. She’s known for quoting Ghostbusters, Bob’s Burgers and Jurassic Park at inappropriate moments, sneaking off to Disney World when she should be working, and being that person at a party who spends the whole evening befriending the host’s dog.
Jill’s YA contemporary novel, MAMMOTH, is now available from Turner Publishing. Jill’s first novel, SPOOKYGIRL: PARANORMAL INVESTIGATOR, won the 2011 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award for Young Adult Fiction and was published by Dutton Juvenile in 2012.
I received an ARC of this book for free from the publisher (Turner Publishing) in exchange for an honest review.
This was a super fun and cute read!
I loved the unique point of view. A plus sized fashion blogger who loves paleontology is something we don’t see often. I enjoyed reading her view point and seeing the world through her eyes. It was a unique perspective that I found refreshing.
I enjoyed the little Look of the Day pictures and blog posts that are mixed in at the beginning of some chapters. They were cute and added a nice touch.
I thought the romance was very adorable. I was happy with who she ended up with in the end. I was shipping them from the very beginning.
The one thing I didn’t like was how annoying the main character, Natalie, got in the second half of the book. She started making one stupid decision after another. A lot of the problems she had were caused by making bad decisions and she would try to solve the problem by making more bad decisions. It ended up being a chain of bad decisions and it frustrated me. But aside from this, I still liked the plot overall.
Overall, this was a unique young adult novel full of paleontology fun, a dash of funky fashion, and a sprinkle of romance.
Aaaand the 2 star streak continues 😭 I’m SO bummed I didn’t love this. I thought it was going to be the body positive book of my dreams but it just ended up being a mess. No one talk to me while I mourn what I thought was going to be one of my favorite books of the year.
This book is actual gold. Feminism, in the world of science, and on top of that plus-size rep? GIMME!
One thing YA needs more of are plus-size women and women in STEM featured in books of all genres, and Mammoth is one of the best examples I’ve ever seen of that! I absolutely adored Natalie as a main character. After a horrible middle-school experience, she reinvents herself as Awesome Natalie, complete with a fashion blog peppered with paleontology fangirling. Of course, her “armor” doesn’t change how insecure she really feels inside.
"Women can’t afford to be humble in this field.
One of the many things I loved about this book was that Natalie’s fangirling over science was never frowned upon or made to seem nerdy in a bad way, unlike other books I’ve read.
Also, the plot moved at a great pace and never slowed. I found myself always interested in what was happening. Another thing that really stood out to me was how wonderfully done Natalie’s character development was. It was gradual, and some of the changes were subtle but they were there.
I also loved the characters and all the different dynamics we get to see, especially how they play into the story. Quinn and Cody were my second favorite characters! I’ll have you guys know that I’m not much of a contemporary person, but this book makes me want to pick up more!
AND THE ROMANCE. Never, ever did it overshadow the plot but it was integrated perfectly to play a key role in the character’s arcs. And don’t worry guys: there isn’t much of a love triangle.
My only complaints are just my personal problems, and it’s really the drinking and the language. There’s some strong language in here, as well as examples of underage drinking and getting drunk so if that affects you please be careful!
All in all, Mammoth is one of the best contemporaries of the year. It’s unique, entertaining, awesome, but most importantly: it’s a representative light to the world of YA fiction.
Quotes are taken from the ARC and may not appear in the finished copy. Thank you so much Turner Publishing for sending this to me for an honest review!
I have such conflicting thoughts on this one. Review coming soon!
For now, since I wish I had these before I started reading, here are some content warnings: fatphobic thoughts; fatphobic comments; restriction of eating; unwanted sexual advances (kissing, touching); self-harm
Official comments: Nerds and fashionistas, rejoice: Natalie is the unapologetically awesome heroine we've all been waiting for! Fresh and fun, this story is a love letter to paleontology, a great example of women in STEM, and a victory for anyone who's ever wanted to change what they see in the mirror. I can't say it enough: this book is a must-read!
Unofficial comments: I fell hard and fast for this book. I was so excited to read it early thanks to the premise alone (hello, dino-loving nerd here!), but what made me love it so much more than I can describe was Natalie. Her voice, her determination, her insecurities, her talents--I felt like I really knew her, and I hope we get to see more of her in another book, because I'd gladly read about whatever she decides to do next! The mere fact that she's there narrating would make it interesting.
I'm sure all authors gush about the books we blurb to some extent, but this truly is such a special book. I don't know how else to say it. The characters are all nuanced, and you will love them. The story takes some unexpected twists. You'll worry for, question, empathize, and cheer with Natalie throughout her adventure!
I really struggled with whether I was going to give this two or three stars. I had given it three stars, but after drafting my review I realized how extremely disappointing it was.
First thing was the barbecue element, more specifically... PORK barbeque. The idea that everyone thought pork was the most glorious food in the universe was shoved in the reader's face by being mentioned over and over and over again. I know Texas is known for barbeque, but that's not what this book is about. It's not like one of the characters works in a restaurant, or one of their parents is a pig farmer. It was way over the top, especially with the specificity of it being pork. It was so over the top it felt like one of those FU things some authors pull where they give the finger about something. In this case it was flipping the bird at vegetarians and vegans.
The author said she did serious research into Paleontology and I think it is apparent that she did in the fossil excavating, cleaning and cataloging area, but she included a couple of science based things that were faulty. Especially when one animal fossil was found that wouldn't be found in North America because its migration had been stopped by the Andes mountain range. This was also part of a HUGE coincidence to give the story drama, which made its use more egregious.
Then another dramatic event was based on something the Texas born and bred character weather expert would have known would happen, but somehow that one, even common sense to me as a Northerner, bit was missing from his knowledge? Like I always say, if it's Realistic Contemporary it has to be realistic. If you don't want to do the work writing within real world parameters, write Fantasy.
Another problem, similar to the above, was the MC is supposed to be a Paleontology fanatic. It's her passion and she has studied it online, read all the books, watched all the YouTube videos and listened to all the podcasts, but she didn't know better than to wear high heels and a dress for field work orientation? Really? I hate it when authors make American teens look that vapid. I have seen the effect these characterizations, in books and on television shows about US high school students, have on the international scope. I was a member of a large Harry Potter fandom site and the notions people, especially teens, from other countries had about US teens were unbelievably skewed, and usually not in a good way. Imagine what readers think when this girl is supposed to be one of the best and brightest, and she does this and also hates having to wear muddy boots to go prospecting. There was also a scene where the interns were practicing writing a lot of information on small cataloging labels, and she's thinking how droll and boring the subspecies classification information is because it's over her head. If Paleontology was really her passion she'd be excited to learn, ask questions, and figure it out. Her brain would be gobbling it up.
Then, what was supposed to be a positive and enlightening conclusion unraveled itself. After coming to terms with not always wanting to make herself "presentable" and being able to go out in public with only mascara and lip gloss, a pony tail; and not wearing spanx, high heels, and a dress; she then proclaims it feels great because she's doing it for herself and no one else, but we find out it's only because a boy liked her that way. Ugh. If a boy hadn't liked her that way she would still be doing the Barbie dress-up thing. Noooooooooo, what kind of a message is that to send?! And nothing was ever called out about her aunt teaching people that being your best was hip fashion and good undergarments, so the message turned into a person doesn't always have to be be their best (hip and spanxed, is that what "best" truly is) if there's a boy who will accept that less than best. This book had so much potential and ended up being a big disappointment.
I was approved for an eARC, via Edelweiss, in return for an honest review.
I can't describe how happy I was when I got approved for this ARC (which also happens to be my first one from Edelweiss+), because it's not everyday that we get plus size or science nerd heroines in YA, and this book had one who is both while also being a fashion blogger. It's such a unique combination and I had high hopes from it, and I am so glad to say that this didn't disappoint.
Natalie is a paleo geek who is very passionate about prehistoric animals and is quite excited about spending her summer at a mammoth dig in Austin. Also encouraged by her eccentric Aunt, she is quite proficient at designing and making her own clothes and it was actually fun to see her Look of the Day pictures on the blog at the beginning of each chapter. It gives us a sense of her style and how much time she actually spends dressing up everyday.
However, on digging deeper we realise that she uses all of this as an armor to protect herself from the online trolls or any other horrible comments that are thrown her way due to her size. She has lots of issues at the beginning of the book - she doesn't like eating in front of other people and ends up starving herself sometimes, she has this habit of guessing every woman's weight, she keeps snapping her bracelet on her wrist which hurts her just to keep herself from getting drowned out by her thoughts. However, through the progression of the story, we see her become more confident about herself, let go of some of the self-loathing that she feels and also feel less need of the armor that she is so used to having as a facade.
There are a host of interesting side characters here and it was a fun gang to read about. Quinn is tired of being ignored by her rockstar paleontologist father and always trying to seek his approval, even if she goes about it in the wrong ways. Chase is the cute intern who treats Natalie well and she falls for his charms but not everything is as it seems. Mellie is the quirky senior intern whose mouth runs a million miles a second but she is also very supportive and a great friend. Cody is a slightly grouchy guy who works at the museum, but once Nat gets to know him and he realises how passionate she is about the work, they become friends and I really enjoyed their banter.
I loved the writing style in the book. It's very easy flowing, relatable and charming and I finished it in just a few hours. But the author manages to tell a fun and entertaining story while also touching on issues like fatphobia, self esteem, sexism in the scientific fields, the dichotomy of ambition vs recklessness and the importance of more women in STEM. And when Natalie takes multiple bad decisions but with good intent, the author shows us that actions have consequences, despite the reasons for committing them. I really liked the development of Natalie towards the end, realizing that her passion should not override good judgement and it gives her a chance to self-reflect. I also loved the depiction of consent, how a woman is allowed to change her mind while she is kissing someone and how being attracted to a person doesn't mean their bad behavior needs to be excused. I really liked how the author was able to shed light on all these issues while never being preachy about it and keeping it all very lighthearted.
If you love reading YA contemporaries with interesting female characters, then I highly recommend this one. If you want to satisfy your inner nerd and read about a STEM heroine who happens to be a plus size fashionista, then go right ahead and pick this up because we don't get enough of them and this book deserves the love.
PS: Thank you to Edelweiss and Turner Publishing for providing me this advance review copy. All the opinions expressed here are unbiased and solely mine.
Right before entering high school, Natalie underwent a transformation from Fat Nat to Awesome Natalie. Makeup and fashion became her armor, protecting her both physically and emotionally from the judgement of others. However, during her summer internship, she discovered she was more than the hair, clothes, and makeup, and she was awesome with or without it all.
• Pro: Natalie was driven, determined, and resilient. She was very likable and her exuberance for vintage clothing and paleontology made me excited about vintage clothing and paleontology. I also felt her struggle with her body image was realistic, because I know I feel the same way and exhibit many of the same behaviors as those described in the book.
• Pro: Our fine protagonist made a few bad decisions over the course of this story. However, Baguchinsky did not let her get away with anything. Nat suffered consequences for her actions, and I was glad to see she had to pay for her mistakes.
• Pro: I love science, and was therefore, very excited to see such a fabulous STEM-girl story. Not only did we hear of Natalie's love for paleontology, but there was a lot of science incorporated into the story. My area of study were the physical sciences, so I really enjoyed learning more about paleontology.
• Pro: Fossilista was awesome! Natalie's blog posts were a fun touch to the story, and the Look of the Day graphics were a nice peek at Nat in her full armor.
• Pro: Growth! Natalie was living by the motto "fake it, till you make it", but over the course of the internship, she grew more confident, and began to show more of her true self. I loved watching her slowly shed pieces of "Awesome Natalie" as she grew to realize her true worth.
• Pro: Though it was a smaller part of the story, there was a cute romance in there, and I totally shipped Natalie and this guy.
Overall: A story of one girl's journey to find her true self, which was filled with fun, fashion, and "paleo-squeals".
So, something people may not know about me is that my college degree was a Bachelor of Science in Education with Earth Science as my Major and Biology as my Minor. I have always been a bit obsessed with dinosaurs and fossils. The release of the original Jurassic Park movie, well the book first, coincided with when I was taking some classes that were about fossils and such, and really got me very excited in being a paleontologist or something similar. My family could tell how much I loved it, and so for my college graduation they paid for me to go work on a real dinosaur dig in Montana through the Museum of the Rockies at Montana State University in Bozeman, Montana.
As soon as I read the synopsis for this book I knew that I HAD to have it! And from the very first time I picked it up, I wasn't disappointed at all! I immediately started geeking out over all the dinosaur and other paleontology stuff the first time I picked it up. It wasn't just the science stuff though, I felt a kinship with the main character, Natalie, and her weight issues. Although from theh very start I did wonder how in the world she thought she would be wearing her fashionable clothing on a fossil dig internship. Unlike Natalie, I'm still a fan of dinosaurs more than prehistoric mammals, but really I love them all.
I loved how she mentioned the bone licking test, I remember showing it to my students whenever I taught about fossils in the past. There was so much other great science in it, and so many neat things about how a museum might work with the fossils and specimens. There was all the teenage peer pressure as part of the story, and while I know there were things that I would never have let sway me, I get that some of it was needed to add the drama and conflict in the story.
The lawsuit in the book was very realistic in that there have been cases so close to what was part of this story. I mean a lot of people have heard of Tyrannosaur Sue, but do they know the whole story behind where she came from? And then there was the stealing of credit, done by Dr. Carter, who had been Natalie's idol. Again, a realistic part of any field, including science.
Such a great book. Made me want to go back and work on a dinosaur dig again some day myself. Great book!
I enjoyed Mammoth a lot and had an incredibly fun time reading it. I got sucked in from the first few words (or rather, the first drawing) and I never really had the desire to put it down. If I had had time I would have definitely read it in one sitting.
The main character in the book, Natalie Page, adores fashion (and often makes her own pieces) and has a huge passion for paleontology. The book starts off with her getting ready for her internship at an Ice Age dig site in Texas, and this internship was definitely one of my favorite things about the book.
We don’t often get to read about women in STEM, so seeing this was so much fun. One of the first “real” jobs I wanted to have (after me wanting to be a princess and all that) was a paleontologist, so being able to read about this and how it actually works made me geek out so hard. I also loved how the book tackled misogyny and classism in the field, and a bunch of other important topics. I also really loved reading about how passionate Natalie is about her work, and her enthusiasm definitely was incredibly infectious. It almost made me want to become a paleontologist again.
While I loved Natalie’s passion, it also really annoyed me at times. She made a lot of reckless decisions, and while I get that this was partially caused by the fact that she really wants to be like her hero (a very famous paleontologist who tells a lot of stories on his podcast about his heroic actions), it still really frustrated me. I could excuse the first time she did something reckless, but after the second and third mistake (mistakes that got worse and more dangerous every time) I wanted to step into the book, shake her, and tell her to me more careful.
I also really enjoyed the fat representation in the book, and I could relate to Natalie a lot. She tries to love her body and be as confident as she can be, but she still deals with a lot of internalized fatphobia. This fatphobia was incredibly hard to read about, so please be aware of that before going into it. Natalie’s self image definitely gets better towards the end of the book, but there’s still a lot of stuff she has to work on and work through, which I appreciated. Internalized fatphobia is a very hard thing to deal with, and having her get rid of that completely in the span of a few weeks would just not have been realistic.
Overall, I really enjoyed this book. I really enjoyed Natalie’s character, even though she got on my nerves sometimes, and I loved being able to geek out about paleontology and get some good fat representation. I’m super excited to see what Jill Baguchinsky will write next, because if it’s some more nerdy goodness I’ll definitely want to read it.
Are you looking for a book about plus-size fashion, body positivity, and women in STEM? Then look no further because Mammoth does a fantastic job of providing just that in a way that actually lived up to my hopeful expectations! An impressive debut from a smaller publisher, I was so excited to get my hands on an ARC of this and I really hope it makes its way into wider circulation! It deserves to be read.
Rising high school junior Natalie is a plus-size fashion blogger who is obsessed with paleontology! When she lands a dream summer internship, she is in for plenty of science, a good side of romance, and some real personal growth. SO MANY things were done well in this book!
- We get REAL SCIENCE discussed throughout, not just vague allusions. The author clearly did her homework and it was refreshing to have a heroine excited about entering a STEM field where we desperately need more women.
- While on the science, she also depicts the very real problem of more senior scientists stealing credit for the work of junior (especially female) researchers. I appreciated that and thought it was handled well.
- This tackles issues of blogging (or similar) online in terms of dealing with trolls and nasty comments, or feeling like you have to exude a particular facade all the time to be successful. Also handled very well with great nuance.
- At the beginning of the book Natalie has some very unhealthy behaviors (not wanting to eat in front of people, constantly guessing the weight of other women, painfully snapping a hairband on her wrist, always wearing restrictive shapewear and heavy makeup) but we see her grow in very positive ways through the story and learn to REALLY be comfortable in her skin!
- Something I rarely see- there is a makeout scene realistically depicted where Natalie is unsure whether she is enjoying it or not and how far she wants things to go. I liked how this gets at the nuance of consent in a very relatable way.
- It's also got some laugh out loud moments (like when Natalie wears heels to her first day on an dig!)
Overall, I thought this was a wonderful book with lots of great messaging AND a really good story! I would probably recommend this for older teens because there is a LOT of profanity (especially the F-word) for a YA book. Use your judgement, but I really hope this is widely read!
ARC provided by Turner Publishing in exchange for an honest review.
When I heard this book is about boosting women in STEM and is all about paleontology, I knew I had to request this. While the writing and plot was more of a 3-star read for me, I found the subject matter very near and dear to my heart. So, sorry in advance if this gets a little personal!
Natalie is a plus-size fashion blogger with a passion for paleontology. She gets the opportunity to intern at a dig site (museum) in Austin, TX but she soon learns that it’s impossible to wear cute clothes and look “trendy” while digging in the dirt. And to top it off, she gets the chance to meet her idol, world renowned paleontologist, Tom Carver.
But things take a bad turn when Carver takes credit for one of Natalie’s finds, and Natalie tries to find her footing in the paleontology world, while finding balance between her own happiness and self-confidence.
What I loved most about this book was how much it reminded me of my childhood. My dad was a geologist, and he has a huge collection of fossils, books on dinosaurs, and scale-model dinosaurs. It’s what sparked my desire to go into the paleontology field. But my university didn’t have a paleontology program so I went into a different science field. What resonated with me about Natalie’s story is that I, too, went into a male-dominated field. I was 1 of 3 women to graduate in my aviation class, and later worked in aviation where I was the minority. Like, I totally felt for Natalie having to feel the constant need to prove herself that she belonged in paleontology. And I was living for all the educational scenes where we got to follow along on their digs.
But aside from the paleontology, I loved how fashion was woven into the story. Fashion is Natalie’s armor, and it was nice to see her slowly shed that armor and discover herself. I was also loving how Natalie’s “Look of the day” and blog post started a new chapter.
As far as the story goes, it was fast-paced and an easy read. I wasn’t a huge fan of the rest of the characters and found Tom Carver to be a non-magical version of Gilderoy Lockhart. There’s also a very gross scene between a male love interest and Natalie that happens rather early on in the book. And I was really cringing at some of the stupid decisions Natalie made in the second half.
However I found that the end was realistic (to a degree) and was glad that not everything was sunshine and rainbows; that it’s realistic for young people to make mistakes and for them to receive the consequences for making those mistakes.
I recommend this book if you’re looking for a cute book that has a badass female in the STEM field. I wish we saw more of this in YA literature and I’m going to keep rooting for stories like this!
Trigger warnings: fat-phobic thoughts and comments, self harm (snapping an elastic on wrist), unwanted sexual kissing/touching, food avoidance.
Note: I received an Uncorrected Proof/Advanced Copy of Mammoth from Turner Publishing Company, in exchange for my honest review.
With comedy, self-deprecation, and some thoughtful looks and internal struggles about appearances and confidence, Mammoth tells the story of Natalie Page, from her perspective. A size-20 teen who blogs about paleontology and fashion—a self-described “fossilista”—Natalie is a trend-setting young woman set on forging her way into STEM fields. Some of the messages about “being awesome” or “‘keep digging’” (pun intended) can feel trite but younger readers may find the reminders worthwhile. Yes, we have many stories about finding self-confidence—but not exactly like this one.
A longtime fan of paleontology, archeology, and the outdoors, I wanted to love Mammoth and its fossil-loving heroine, and I do in theory. I would have loved an internship like hers when I was a rising Junior: digging in Texas and unearthing fossilized treasures alongside some new friends and heroes (or are they?) alike! Maybe it’s because of my investment in all the earthy splendor of digging up fossils (albeit, I don’t pretend to be an expert on any of this. I’ve simply had a lifelong affection for dinosaurs and archeology that, unlike in Natalie and her friends’ case, predates Jurassic Park).
Too many characters beyond Natalie (whom I’ll describe more, below) still feel like stock types to me: the supportive friend, the “cool, thin, rich girl” who may or may not have a hard home life, the cute guy who is too good to be true, the overlooked guy friend who is really “the one,” the hipster aunt, and the privileged white male who thinks he can have it all (thankfully, he gets his comeuppance). But maybe, like those John Hughes films of the 1980s, we’ve always tried to reduce things to stereotypes within youth-geared works. Does this make the work “accessible”? “Familiar,” and therefore “appealing”? This feels misguided, though, considering that Jill Baguchinsky has clearly gone through such great lengths to make Natalie different than the ordinary protagonist. We need to break all stereotypes as much as possible, rather than pick and choose which are worth preserving. There are some promising strokes here, some great moves forward—but work remains to be done.
Moreover, Natalie isn’t perfect, but she has good intentions most of the time. She takes some risks—and I really like how the book is realistic in showing the consequences of these decisions. Sometimes, Natalie can be annoying, though, in how much she jeopardizes her future. How much can she really want to be a STEM professional if she engages in underage drinking, breaks the site rules, and lets boys and rich girls ruin her focus? Some may call it “typical teen stuff,” but I call it pure idiocy that often seems out of character or strange. I can’t relate to her choices (having been unlike her as a teen).
Yet, I daresay there’s a lot to commend about this protagonist and what she represents. I just wanted more passion about her work. Natalie’s peers and mentors often mention how perfect she is for paleontology—how she has a gift for it, a calling. Yet, I find no evidence that she’s really, deep-down and truly, geeking out over the scientific aspects. She may suggest that she’s living, eating, and breathing fossils but that doesn’t make it so. Maybe I’m asking for too much from a YA book. Then again, I’m one of those people who dislikes categorizing books as “Young Adult” and “Adult.” A well-written, compelling story is just that—no need to categorize.
Reading the author’s notes, it’s clear she did her research. Sadly, I don’t get a sense of any of it—this novel could use more technical language regarding the field of paleontology, more internal reflections of how Natalie feels digging, detecting, dusting her way through the field. There are so many opportunities to have Natalie feel lost in her work, forgetting her fashion, her looks, the boys and girls complicating her feelings about herself. Does she love fossils because the hunt for them allows her to lose herself in a history that has nothing to do with her? Does she love the sense of dirt passing through her fingers? Does she love the “dig” for fashion simply because it reminds her of an archeological site and she finds clothing another form of evolution, of taking her bare bones and making it something new? Potential and possibilities abound—I would love for the final version of the novel to take more interest in Natalie’s psychological life in a way in which readers understand Natalie better than she understands herself. She apparently loves paleontology. It’s apparently her calling in life—well, I wish I was shown this, not told and expected to trust in it.
I wanted to learn something, as I hope to do from any work of art, and don’t feel like I did. I was left unsatisfied as a reader.
In truth, there is an audience for this book—I just don’t think it’s for me.
As intimated, I am not much of a YA reader, but that doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy any book that is well-written. I realize the YA genre, and first-person narration from a contemporary teen, has its limits. But I’m a reader who seeks poetic passages, mesmerizing moments of word-play, and stunning sentences: I didn’t find the writing style did much for me. Yet, it’s a cute, fast-paced story that may inspire the right audience. I like that Natalie is set up to be invested in many areas, from fashion to paleontology to writing (she’s a blogger and her essay got her a scholarship to a mammoth dig site in Texas!). I like that she’s not the typical well-off, thin-and-pretty teen of some stories. She finds other ways to make herself shine and be attractive without relying, in the end, on superficiality.
In the end, Mammoth has gigantic charm, lightheartedness, and some nerdy indulgences—but it’s a bit too “cute” and puerile for my taste. Some of the dialogue and writing feels obvious (there’s an unfortunate lack of nuance here, as if the author doesn’t trust readers enough to figure it out on our own), cliché—and more predictable than I’d like. Again—I wanted more, more depth of story and narrative tone that makes us, readers, archaeologists and paleontologists seeking something exciting and worth excavating.
Still, we need more proper works of diverse women in STEM fields, young women who are feminine and feisty, balancing a variety of interests and continuing to develop their own personalities with or without external factors. I teach young women of Natalie’s age and think a few may find this book good-hearted fun. It’s a breezy book with a few solid blows but, at the end of it, it does feel a bit expected and cliché. But—it held my attention for most of it, even if I was eager to finish it in one fell swoop so that I could move on to my next read.
Lastly, “‘risk it’” is the main take-away from Mammoth, if I had to pick a single message of the novel. Risk loving yourself and respecting yourself, as you are. As someone who likes to remind myself to dare to disturb the universe, and regardless of my feelings in other ways, I can get behind that message.
Trigger warnings: fatphobia holy wow. Also bullying and self-harm.
3.25 stars. So here's the thing: this was one of my most anticipated books for the second half of this year. I mean...a plus sized fashion blogger who's really into palaeontology? YES PLEASE. And for the most part, I thoroughly enjoyed this. The palaeontology side of things was solid. The romance was stinking adorable. Natalie's slow realisation that she'd poured so much of herself into her blog and her "armour" that she didn't know how to be herself any more was great. I really loved that there are consequences to Natalie's actions, consequences that she probably should have seen coming but didn't because she's a freaking teenager and they never think about the consequences. All of that was great.
But. For probably 60-75% of the book, Natalie has so many negative thoughts about herself and her body and spends so much time thinking about how much other people weigh and how that relates to her weight. I honestly kept expecting her to pass out because even in in the middle of a Texan summer, she was wearing a shaper, a tank top, and a t-shirt most of the time. And, like, I spent three weeks on an archaeological dig in the Mallee when I weighed over 100kgs and it was 35 degrees C in the shade every day and IT WAS LITERALLY HELL, so the thought of doing that in three layers of clothes just so that other people can't see your natural body shape? N.O.P.E.
So really, if it hadn't been for Natalie's self-destructive thought processes and her somewhat disordered eating so that other people wouldn't judge her, this would have been a 4 star read for me. As it stood, I liked it but I can't bring myself to rate it any higher.
This was so, SO BEAUTIFUL!!! And everything I needed it to be, especially as a paleontologist-hopeful!!! This not only brings light to all the problems in the paleontology field, but also talks so much about what life is actually like when you're plus sized!! This is definitely one of my top 5 all time favorite books now, and everything bit of encouragement I needed to keep trying and to keep going in the paleontology field!!!
I'm trying to read as much YA about girls in STEM as possible (yainterrobang.com/list-stem-ladies/). This one features a girl going to a palaeontology summer internship. It's full of hijinks and romance and scandal, with some great points about women in STEM.
I received an e-ARC from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.
My inner geek self and paleontologist enjoyed this book very much! It was funny emotional, filled with bones and discoveries! Natalie's story who arises to the occasion of making her own mark in the world was great, filled with humor and also the fear of making yourself visible. I also enjoyed how careful the plot was, how Natalie and the friends she made shared their love for paleontology, even when they realized that her idol is not who he seems.
This is an awesome book. I was intrigued by the premise of a girl in a male-dominated industry (an industry I haven’t read any novels about before, no less), and got so much more. Natalie struggles with some serious self-esteem issues due to her body type, and she has reinvented herself to the point where a random guy who used to pick on her now has a crush on her because he doesn’t even know she’s the same person. But without her fancy clothes and makeup, she doesn’t feel comfortable.
Don't be fooled by the title of Baguchinsky's "Mammoth", it is nothing if not lighthearted. Narrator Natalie is a rising high school junior and paleontology geek who comes to rely on a persona of geek chic couture and constant stream of "awesomeness" to navigate high school as a fat girl. The majority of the story takes place during a summer internship at a fossil dig-site, with Natalie having to come to terms with the fact that the shiny veneer she's built for herself may not be able to withstand all the dirt...as well as a little attention from a couple of cute guys. The novel manages to tap on the challenges of: self-image, organic confidence, and some interesting points on the experiences of women in science, without coming off as preachy or losing any of its quintessential "YA contemporary charm", that serves to bind all the little bits together like a reconstructed fossil. "Mammoth" isn't a perfect novel, it could get frustrating at points when many of Natalie's problems began to be of a self-inflicted kind and some of her actions done in the name of science come across as selfish (the latter is addressed towards the end) but it was good. The novel's brief lower points are buoyed by Natalie's effervescent personality and she feels absolutely real. Buried underneath all the love-triangles, second-hand embarrassment, and dinosaur bones is an utterly saccharine contemporary that knows what it is and does it well- not unlike its heroine by the end. 3.5 stars.
"You can’t hide from assholes. You just have to learn to deal."
Women in Stem is a hard thing to come by and this puts women right where they belong. That is obviously at the top!
One thing I wasn’t expecting to happen was me wanting to learn more about Paleontology. It was fascinating about all the hard work they put into something that might not give them anything in return.
The story was one that instantly had me hooked. It flowed beautifully and the characters were instantly likable even if some are more douchey than others. But Natalie is the plus size heroine we all needed in our lives right now. She’s a full-figured gal who didn’t let the haters win. She took that hate and made herself more determined. With the way the world is going, we needed someone like her.
This book is a victory for anyone that needs more encouragement, who needs to feel comfortable in their own skin. This is that extra pat on the back we all need and a must read for everyone.
Natalie’s big heart will win you over immediately. Don’t hesitate when it comes to this book.
SUCH a sweet book! I've been finding myself really enjoying YA books these days! They are definitely getting better and better, and the messages in some of them are so strong, and heartfelt, and important. THIS book, is not an exception to that. Jill Baguchinsky crafts an adorable story of self discovery and self love, and it's so easily relatable for anyone who has every not felt like they fit in, or lacked self-confidence. Thankfully, although Natalie has some major insecurities, and struggles to maintain a fabulous facade every day - we find that inside, she IS more fabulous that she gives herself credit for and is an overall really kicka$$ chick with the normal teenage insecurities that plague (or have plagued) the best of us!
Natalie is SO many things. She's your average teenage girl, she's a paleontology junkie and adores all things bones and paleo, she is a plus-size fashion maven - who often makes her own clothes and accessories - all the while blogging about it all on a fairly popular blog she created, Fossilista. She's about to embark on a really exclusive internship digging bones and kicking some paleo butt - and it's the perfect fit for her. If only she could convince herself that she fit in, and truly belongs.
We arrive at the dig site and museum where the internship takes place and Natalie struggles to get through the day-by-day of her new surroundings, and fellow interns. She wants to be cool and comfortable in the Texas heat like the size 4 girls in tank tops, but her shapewear makes her instantly sweat and she's trying so hard to make her style look effortless. Her cute clothes start to take a beating, her insecurity towards boys shines as she tries to flirt and fit in, and she ends up getting herself into some serious trouble, again, and again. But this internship was MADE for Natalie. Will she be able to get over her lack of self confidence and finally get over the endless combat with her inner self - and just be able to be who she is? And get some things right for a change?
I adored Natalie, and I liked most of the other interns as well. They're all a bunch of teens just trying to fit in, wherever they can find a little bit of shine. Whether it's with friends, or teachers, family or crushes - everyone just wants to be happy. Everyone wants to be themselves and come into their own. I love the bits of romance, the cool science facts, fashion tips and even a bit of a mystery - it all flowed really well and made me root for Natalie, and all the girls in the world who don't fit the mold. The mold IS girls like Natalie - and I hope this book gets into so many of the hands out there of girls struggling to find their own place in the world. Bravo Jill!
What do you get when you cross fashion with palaeontology? Mammoth is a fun YA contemporary. This summer might be all about Ice Age creatures but it also heats up with a bit of romance and a touch of big discoveries, betrayals and cover ups. In the vein of Julie Murphy’s Dumplin’, Mammoth carries tones of self-acceptance and finding the confidence to embrace your inner (and outer) awesome.
When Natalie lands a summer internship at an Ice Age dig site she knows she is ready to embrace the awesome. Posting about her days at the dig on her fashion-come-paleao blog, things get interesting when Natalie’s idol turns up. Then there are the two cute boys and the fact that her sense of style, which doubles as an armour against the bullies and trolls of the world, isn’t always practical for field work. Natalie is determined to prove to everyone that she deserves to be there, even if it means taking big risks, risks that could jeopardise her internship.
Jill Baguchinsky is an author to watch. Mammoth is fresh and funny. There are a few cringe-worthy moments, but that might be my intolerance of silly mistakes especially when fuelled by alcohol. Natalie has a lot to learn during her summer internship but you can never doubt her determination or her resilience. Fashion, clothing and perfectly applied makeup are her armour, all strategies she uses to cope with the people who judge her because of her weight and size. Yet as she faces the challenges of her internship, Natalie also gains a better understanding that sometimes people aren’t what you first expected.
With two cute boys and a rival/possible friend/roommate, there is no shortage of relationship complications. Natalie also has much to learn about the male-dominated world of palaeontology and if and how she will decide to continue her career in this field.
Mammoth is a fun, quirky and clever YA contemporary, which will appeal to readers who enjoy books about standing up for yourself, accepting yourself and others for who they are, fashion and old, dead things long buried.
The publishers provided an advanced readers copy of this book for reviewing purposes. All opinions are my own.
Find more reviews, reading age guides, content advisory, and recommendations on my blog Madison's Library
A fun book about taking risks, even when the payoff isn't always what you hoped it could be. Natalie is a high schooler who scores an internship at an Ice Age Dig Site near Austin, Texas (which plays a bigger role near the end of the book with cameos of Book People and Amy's Ice Cream, along with the Congress Street Bridge bats). She's also a fat blogger into fashion, a la Abby in THE SUMMER OF JORDI PEREZ. Abby's mentality is that of a fat girl struggling to love herself unconditionally while living in a culture that constantly assesses female-appearing bodies for their size. She gets caught up in it throughout. It's not fatphobic; it's her navigating a shitty fatphobic culture. I wish this had been explored more deeply, since it falls off somewhere in the middle of the book, but it felt real and authentic to me as someone who was Natalie's size in high school and felt and thought those things, even if I DID feel positively about my own body.
The paleontology stuff was fun, and I liked the sweet romance that emerged in the story. Some of the secondary characters were throwaway but again, it's okay. The fun in this one is the setting, the passion Natalie has for paleontology and blogging and fashion, and watching a teen make some poor choices that have good -- and not so good -- outcomes.
"It's way too early for a look-of-the-day photo, but my followers will revolt if I don't post one - and my blog just hit sixty thousand subscribers last month, so that's a lot of potential revolting. Phone in hand, I stand in front of my full-length mirror." *
Meet Natalie. A number one geek in paleontology, plus-size fashion blogger, full of wit and sass. The book is about her time at an internship, a little bit of romance, relationships and about someone who tries to fit in, but in the end realises she really doesn't have to. She is very driven and determined. I loved a lot about this story. It has likeable characters, a lot of connectivity but one of the key parts is we have a female rocking a field of science, in which males tend to dominate. She really knows her stuff and grows in confidence in front of you.
*Received ARC from publisher in exchange for review*
This novel was so much more than I expected! The bold plus size main character running a fashion + fossils blog was what first caught my eye about this upcoming novel, but once I got into the story, I learned how unique 'Mammoth' was. Readers follow Natalie, a bright and hopeful paleontology intern on a summer term in Austin Texas, as she learns to balance difficult relationships, self confidence, and maybe discover a dinosaur bone or two.
As the novel picked up, I sympathized with Natalie's struggles, from her self consciousness due to her weight, and her amusing mishaps at the dig. The hateful comments and judgemental looks force to hide some of her most beautiful qualities. It is difficult to have the courage to fight back, but Natalie learns to be proud of who she is and embrace her nerdy, crafty qualities. There were many fun science facts that were smoothly added, and even those who are not familiar with paleontology will find engaging. The supporting characters were witty, and added a cute romance flair to the novel.
Overall, I really enjoyed the story, and will be recommending this one to my friends!
(Disclaimer: I received this free book from the publisher. This has not impacted my review which is unbiased and honest.)
What I love about Mammoth is that it's so multi-faceted. It's about a plus size paleontology lover. But it's about the love of fashion, the importance of women in STEM fields, sexism, and cyber bullying. There are themes of solidarity, blogging, and more. I adored every second of it and this book finished way too soon! I devoured it within a day and it's easy to get lost in Natalie's narration and her world.