A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Teeth is set on a magical island that bears little resemblance to reality. The novel's fable-like quality allows some of the characters to behave in ways that would not work within a real-life fishing community.
Teeth explores the meaning of friendship and the nature of family bonds. Rudy, the protagonist, struggles to do what's right for his ailing younger brother while trying to protect his fish-like friend, Teeth. Unfortunately, Rudy's language and behavior are sometimes so grating and hysterical that they undercut the positive aspects of the novel's theme.
Positive Role Models
Cut off from this friends, isolated within a family undergoing tremendous stress, Rudy is a boy with many reasons to be bitter and lonely. His language and behavior, however, are so grating and harsh that they may undercut the reader's sympathy for him. In a more realistic setting, Rudy might have more options to behave with more insight and less hysteria. As it is, he struggles toward redemption but never quite makes it.
Violence & Scariness
Throughout Teeth, the title character is tormented by the local fisherman -- regularly beaten, tortured, and, it is strongly suggested, sexually assaulted. For the most part, these assaults are not depicted; only the aftermath is. Teeth is a human/fish hybrid, the result of an act of trans-species rape, the details of which are described fleetingly. A number of people are killed in a shootout.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Rudy, the protagonist of Teeth, talks often about his plans to "f--k" Diane, his mysterious neighbor and sometimes girlfriend, but they seem to do little more than engage in heavy make-out sessions.
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The language in Teeth is extremely rough and may make some readers very uncomfortable. Variations of "f--k" and "s--t" are used countless times, with a smattering of lesser curses: "hell," "damn," "bastard," and "bitch."
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Rudy reminisces about drinking with his friends back home, but there are no scenes of substance abuse in Teeth.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Teeth is a contemporary fantasy novel with extremely strong language, including countless uses of "f--k" and "s--t." There's a fair amount of violence, including beatings, torture, sexual assault, and several deaths in a shootout. Rudy, the protagonist, garners some sympathy, but his language and actions are sometimes so harsh and hysterical (lots of yelling and cursing and wailing at the unfairness of it all) that they detract from the novel's theme of friendship and loyalty.
Is It Any Good?
TEETH has a distinctive (if extremely crude) narrative voice and an intriguing setup, but its fable-like quality is undercut by its refusal to play by the rules of logic. While perfectly willing to believe in fish/human hybrids, Rudy immediately dismisses seeking help on the island or elsewhere. With the exception of Rudy's brother Dylan, all the characters seem to operate at a level of maximum hysteria, which becomes exhausting after a while.
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.