THE PRINCE OF VENICE BEACH (2014):
"Nelson's subject matter tends to emphasize the “adult” in Young Adult fiction, tackling mature themes like sexuality, death and addiction in a frank, sparse and unyielding manner that thrills his audience. Even as a 40something man, Nelson is able to wholly inhabit his always teenaged, frequently female protagonists, bringing them to life in a starkly realistic manner, sure to open the eyes of more than a few parents."
--- Time Magazine
"Nelson's spare style and nuanced portrayal of street kids is strongly reminiscent of the classic work of S.E. Hinton. The gritty beach setting, compelling cast of sensitively drawn secondary characters and spot-on dialogue elevate the story beyond that of a typical genre mystery."
--- Kirkus Reviews
"The latest from contemporary YA powerhouse Blake Nelson is so filled with joy and voice that it’s impossible to put down."
--- Write All The Words
PARANOID PARK (2006):
"Violence and Silence in Blake Nelson's Paranoid Park": NPR'S "Fresh Air with Terry Gross", radio interview (March 2008)
"[Paranoid Park's] examination of guilt and responsibility in Portland, Oregon, pushes off fast and keeps going on a hell-bent course toward a conclusion teens can debate for days."
--- Chicago Sun Times (October 2006)
"The Latest Outsider has a Skateboard: A Conversation with Gus Van Sant": The New York Times, (March 2, 2008)
“With Paranoid Park, author Blake Nelson–-previously best-known for his debut novel, Girl, which was also made into a film back in 1998–-seems to be trying something few authors do: He’s writing from the perspective of an actual teenager. Not putting teenagers into adult-style stories, or repackaging teenagers as the kind of 14-going-on-40 perky, precocious snark machines that films and television mostly make them out to be. The protagonist of Paranoid Park is a 16-year-old skateboarder who really does read like a 16-year-old, which is to say, kinda vapid, kinda confused, kinda stressed, and not very in touch with himself. He isn’t full of snappy one-liners and trenchant observations; Ellen Page’s Juno or any random character from Veronica Mars would take him to pieces in five seconds flat, while he watched with his mouth open. So he isn’t necessarily the most interesting guy in the world to read about. But like a character in a Judy Blume novel, he seems pretty true-to-life, and he’s likely to remind readers of their own misspent youths.”
--- “Book vs. Film: Paranoid Park,” The Onion’s A.V. Club (April 2008)
Blog Post Gus Van Sant on the film Paranoid Park, New York Magazine (Nov. 2007)
"Paranoid Allusion" Book Forum (Feb. 2008)
--- Vanity Fair
"Andrea's candid and surprisingly sweet monologue, uncondescendingly records a world of clothes anxieties, coolness consciousness and her confusing mix of tender, erotic and angry feelings toward alternative rocker, downtown big shot and on-and-off lover Todd Sparrow. While making Andrea neither victim nor victimizer, Nelson captures this young woman's fears and joys in subtle and often uncannily accurate ways as Andrea aches for consistency but still revels in life's indeterminancies."
--- Publisher's Weekly
"Whether you’re just “finding yourself” as a teen or doing so belatedly as an adult, Blake Nelson’s devastatingly accurate portrayal of teenage Andrea Marr’s entrance into the Portland music scene is for you."
--- MTV.COM (naming Girl the #1 music themed novel)
"I'm writing all choppy because I'm reading Girl by Blake Nelson at the moment and it's hard to get out of a writing style when all you've been doing is reading it because you've been bored and your bangs could only take so much cutting."
--- Tavi Gevinson, The Style Rookie
“If you grew up reading Sassy magazine, you know who Blake Nelson is. His debut novel, GIRL, about a teenager exploring the Portland rock scene was excerpted in three successive issues, and later made into a movie. But you may not know that Nelson has written many more books, exploring issues of sexuality, morality, and interpersonal relationships with a sensitivity and astuteness that shows more respect for his YA audience than many adult fiction writers show for theirs.”
-- Bust Magazine
DREAM SCHOOL (2012)
"In Dream School ... Nelson takes up the voice [of Andrea Marr] without skipping a beat. Reading it, you can see the influence that Girl might've had on writers who are heading up the naturalistic wave that's dominating the young lit scene now. It's like the missing link between Bret Easton Ellis and Tao Lin."
---The Seattle Stranger
"Dream School is first and foremost an enduring account of what it looks, feels and sounds like to be young."
--- The New York Times
"You guys, it’s really good!"
RECOVERY ROAD (2011)
"Nelson offers another sharply focused portrait of a teen in crisis in this story of ex-party girl Maddie, who struggles to renew herself after being released from a rehab center. At Spring Meadow, Maddie's best moments come during her fleeting romance with another young patient, Stewart. Returning home, 16-year-old Maddie battles loneliness and isolation at her high school where her earlier drunken escapades earned her the nickname "Mad Dog Maddie". Predictably, reuniting with Stewart isn't the answer to Maddie's problems, and tension rises as both teens' resolve to stay sober. Nelson gives a hard, honest appraisal of addiction, its often-fatal consequences, and the high probability of relapse. This is an important story that pulls no punches."
--- Publisher's Weekly (STARRED)
"Nelson delivers a searingly honest portrayal of the horrors of alcoholism and drug addiction without a shred of didacticism, and with deep and abiding compassion for the stumbling and scarred characters he creates. Highly recommended."
--- Children's Literature Review
Los Angeles Times' review: "Not Just For Kids: Recovery Road by Blake Nelson.
DESTROY ALL CARS (2009)
"Smart and entertaining,"
---New York Times Book Review ( "Raiders of the Lost Earth")
"James' consideration of 'the lameness of people in general'—which he fairly applies also to himself—gives a nuanced look at why it's hard to change anything in the world but also why it's a noble cause worth striving for."
--- Los Angeles Times Book Review ("Saving the Planet, One Book at a Time")
"Essential Summer Reading": Teen Vogue
ROCK STAR SUPERSTAR (2004)
"The best rock band novel of the year."
--- Publisher's Weekly (STARRED)