A. S King's books seem to share certain characteristics: a quirky/smart protagonist who's facing some kind of an emotional crisis; complicated family dynamics; and a touch of magical realism. My favorite part of Ask the Passengers was definitely Astrid. She's an observer, one of those people who notices and thinks about everything. She also has a quiet and admirable strength of character. I think a lot of readers will relate to the fact that Astrid feels pressured -- for intimacy by her secret girlfriend, and by her peers and family to put a label on herself. Astrid stands strong in the face of this pressure, taking the time to figure things out in a way that feels right to her.Astrid's mom is portrayed as a veritable Mommy Dearest. In Everybody Sees the Aunts, we're given an explanation for the crazy, passive-aggressive antics of another colorful parental figure -- pill-popping Aunt Jodi. In Ask The Passengers, Astrid really isn't interested in making excuses for her mother. It seems like her parents might be suffering either marital problems or money problems or both. Astrid is clearly closer to her father, a guy who has coped with being downsized from multiple jobs by smoking pot and making birdhouses. One summer, Astrid and her father also made a picnic table together. Now Astrid likes to lie on the picnic table and watch airplanes overhead, sending love to the passengers inside them. Ask the Passengers incorporates POV snippets from airline passengers who are going through various personal issues. In addition, Astrid, who is studying philosophy in her AP Humanities class, imagines that Socrates follows her around school. She's bothered by the idea that he only has one name, so she calls him Frank.I'm not crazy about magical realism, and to me, the airline passengers never really felt like an integral part of the story. That aside, I still wholeheartedly recommend Ask The Passengers. I think that A. S. King is one of the most talented and imaginative writers in young adult fiction, and Astrid is definitely one of my favorite new YA characters of 2012.Read more YA reviews on my blog!