A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Information on marine animals and human impact on oceans and sea life. Details on marine animal rescue, rehabilitation, and the workings of nonprofit rescue groups. Lots of pop music references, new and old.
Don't be judgmental. Open yourself up to ideas from other people. Be careful what you wish for. A strong work ethic is a positive trait but remember to nurture all areas of your life. Doing good makes you feel good.
Positive Role Models
Prudence can be an uptight, judgmental perfectionist, but she's a hard worker and a good person at heart. She encourages and supports her friends and eventually learns to open up and be less narrow minded. Quint seems irresponsible, but he cares deeply about rescuing marine life, the environment, and his artwork. Most of the main characters present as White. Prudence's friend Ari is Latinx.
Violence & Scariness
Descriptions of injured marine animals. A few slips and falls.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Attraction and dating figure into the plot. Some kissing.
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Mild, infrequent swearing, including "crap," "hell," "a--hole," "god," "ass."
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Products & Purchases
Media and brands mentioned for scene setting, including Tylenol, Crest, Goldfish, Netflix, Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Teens, but not the main characters, drink at a big bonfire party on the beach. Teens are offered alcohol at a gala and turn it down. Another teen drinks a glass of champagne.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Instant Karma, by Marissa Meyer, is about Prudence, a hardworking perfectionist teen who, after a head injury, develops the power of delivering karmic justice to deserving people. On the last day of her sophomore year, Prudence receives a low grade on a major science project, and she insists on redoing it over the summer, leading her to volunteer at the local marine rescue organization. The center is owned by the mom of her sworn nemesis, Quint. The two were partnered on the big project and each blame the other for poor communication and the unsatisfactory final product. Working together at the rescue center, they continue to bicker and antagonize each other but eventually learn to work together in this opposites-attract romance. The story's content is tame. There's a little kissing; mild, infrequent swearing ("crap," "hell," "a--hole," "ass") and a couple of instance of teen drinking There are descriptions of injured sea animals, and the rest of the violence is limited to slipping and falling. Discussion topics include the problem with being judgmental and rigid, the need to be more open minded and caring, checking one's intentions, and the dangers of wishing ill on people.
Is It Any Good?
This heartwarming romance is cute and fun, but it's overly long and gets bogged down in too many side plots. Instant Karma is best when it illustrates how people can learn from each other, grow, and become more empathetic. Prudence's a tough character to like for much of the book. She's argumentative, rigid, and judgmental. Even though she learns how to deal with these issues, she's hard to take a lot of the time. The notion of a person who's so judgmental getting the power of bestowing karmic justice on others is interesting. Prudence revels in it at first, but she eventually learns that all actions have consequences, and some of those consequences can be serious. The romance angle works well enough. Prudence and Quint have the classic opposites-attract vibe going on, but their squabbles get old, as they have the same arguments over and over. Author Marissa Meyer includes lots of detail on the workings of the marine animal rescue center. It's a fascinating part of the book and will be informative for lots of readers. Overall, this story is built for lovers of sweet, light romance, if they can look past the long, twisting, unnecessary side plots.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.