By Joe Applegate,
Common Sense Media Reviewer
Common Sense Media Reviewers
Slick but lopsided tale of teen trying to solve a murder.
A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
This mystery-thriller takes Dylan, a budding journalist, into high schools and neighborhoods far different from his own, where her sees how rich kids live and act. But the procedural specifics of journalism and police investigation are scant. Dylan undertakes his own investigation as a project for his school paper, and shows lots of hustle and self-worth in the process, but journalism involves a lot more than scouring the Internet.
The book's title refers to Dylan's search for mojo (power, popularity, respect), which he learns comes not from being flashy but from living up to your commitments. Other mesages include: Trust your intuition and believe in yourself, even when others don't.
Positive Role Models
Dylan, who's a bit overweight, and his best friend Audrey, who's a lesbian, are comfortable with who they are. Their being a little different from their classmates, and not the most popular, don't seem to bother these two, who after all have each other. Dylan's persistence and empathy help him overcome all manner of bullying as his peers and some adults try to prevent him from solving the murder of a supposed druggie.
Violence & Scariness
A handgun is fired in one scene, but only into the floor, and one of the toughs in service to the rich kids has a switchblade that he flashes at Dylan, the young investigator. All the serious harm occurs off scene, when a teen is murdered by poison.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
There's no explicit sex in the story, and no more talk about sex than is common when teens gab among themselves. But some of the antics at a private teen club, including a performance by an unusually exotic dancer, show high schoolers at the edge of depravity. Dylan, the young investigator, is led to believe that the father of one of the teen characters is a sexual predator. The rumor proves false.
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Four-letter words are toyed with but not used, as when a local charity is called by its acronym FOKC. The strongest epithet is "assh--e," also rendered in Spanish, "pen---o."
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Products & Purchases
McDonald's and Dennys are mentioned.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Champagne and select varieties of pot figure largely among the rich Oklahoma City kids whose world Dylan, a young investigator, penetrates, and ultimately rejects. One of the kids declares it isn't true that he and his friends have more money than they know what to do with. "We know what to do with it." Indulgence is frankly glamorized.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Mojo is the story of an Oklahoma City high school journalist determined to solve a murder mystery after he discovers a classmate's dead body and the cops dismiss the death as a drug overdose. At the heart of the mystery is Gangland, a decadent private club run by two rich teenagers that's dehumanizing as well as alluring. The Gangland crowd freely consume alcohol and pot, and in one scene, there's a performance by an exotic dancer. The only serious violence happens off scene, when a teen is murdered by poison, except for a gunshot fired into the floor and the flashing of a switchblade. There's some talk of sex and a sexual predator, and the strongest language is "assh--e."
Where to Read
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What's the Story?
Dylan, a reporter on his high school newspaper in Oklahoma City, finds the body of a high school classmate who died, police believe, of a drug overdose. But Dylan doesn't believe it. Then a student at a private school across town goes missing. Setting out to find her (and collect a reward), he enters a world of wealth and partying he could never have imagined.
Is It Any Good?
Dylan Jones and his sidekicks, Audrey and Randy, have loads of unself-conscious charm. Dylan likes himself chubby, Audrey likes herself lesbian, Randy likes to fool cops by playing dumb. It's fun following Dylan as he negotiates the social nuances of the privileged the kids who live north of Tenth Avenue in Oklahoma City, and we're not surprised when he is nearly drawn into their world. Young readers will enjoy the spot-on dialogue.
Too bad the rich kids in this tale of them vs. the rest of us are given so little humanity. The world in MOJO is too starkly divided: all but one of the rich kids and their parents are hedonists, everyone else is noble. The book's climax and resolution have a sassy charm, spoofing hardboiled detective fiction, but too many of the bad guys are hard to believe.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about why murder mysteries are so popular. Have you read any other ones featuring teen investigators? What makes a good mystery?
Sometimes journalists promise not to write about what they see and hear. Why would they do that? Should they ever break they promise? Why or why not?
How might you change inside if not only you, but also every one of your friends, had all the money they could spend on partying?
- Author: Tim Tharp
- Genre: Mystery
- Topics: Adventures, Friendship, High School
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: Knopf
- Publication date: April 9, 2013
- Number of pages: 281
- Available on: Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, Kindle
- Last updated: March 4, 2020
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