I didn't think it was possible, but Jay Asher and Carolyn Mackler managed to fuck up one of the best ideas of 2011.
It's 1996, and less than half of
I didn't think it was possible, but Jay Asher and Carolyn Mackler managed to fuck up one of the best ideas of 2011.
It's 1996, and less than half of all American high school students have ever used the Internet.
Emma just got her first computer and an America Online CD-ROM.
Josh is her best friend. They power up and log on--and discover themselves on Facebook, fifteen years in the future.
Everybody wonders what their Destiny will be. Josh and Emma are about to find out.
How do you fuck up an epic idea like that? I'll tell you how -- you focus on two vapid teenagers and their relationship issues.
I loved Thirteen Reasons Why, despite the various issues I had with it. So you can imagine how much I was anticipating The Future of Us. I pre-ordered it, and I never pre-order books. Now it's sitting on my bookcase like an evil step child, laughing at me for my foolishness. I thought this collaboration would be brilliant. I'd never read My Butt, the Earth, and Other Round Things, but it was a Printz contender, which must have set it apart from vapid chick-lit like The Princess Diaries and All American Girl. So why does this read like a David Levithan/Rachel Cohn Collaboration?
ETA: I read My Butt, the Earth, and Other Round Things a few months ago. I didn't like it. In fact, it was rather vapid, in league with All American Girl or The Princess Diaries. Give me Ruby Oliver over whatshername any day. I don't know why the hell it was a Printz Contender.
It's quite possibly the most disappointing book I've ever read. Even more disappointing than Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows. It takes an epic premise and fails on every mark. And then it doesn't even give us an ending. It trudges along, through the mud of false suspense, and dies before it even gets out of the sludge.
Now, before I continue this review, I should let you know that I am a teenager. I'm seventeen and I have friends who are just as, or even more, vapid than the teenagers in this novel. Problem is, I have no interest in reading about idiots, no matter how realistic they are. I want dynamic, well written characters, not whiny teenage girls who worry about old condoms their best friends keep in their wallets. Hell, that doesn't even bother me -- when it's done the right way. Sara Zarr does it well. Elizabeth Scott does it well. These authors, in this book, failed on every account.
As a contemporary novel, it fails.
As a science-fiction novel, it fails.
As a fantasy novel, it fails.
As a snap-shot of the 90's, it fails.
This reads like a bad PBS special, or that Groundhog Day rip-off Nickolodean ran after Ned's Declassified School Survival Guide ended. I'm calling Miranda Cosgrove and Nathan Kress to star in this because at least they'd make it interesting. And that's not saying much.
I'm not even a real 90's kid, and this reads like a fake rendition of what the 90's were.
I have so many issues with this novel, I have to make a list.
If you're suddenly given a portal into your future Facebook account, what do you do?
a) Look into the politics of the future. b) See how you can make a quick buck off of future companies by investing in the stock market. c) Find out who wins the future Superbowl/World Series/March Madness so you can win a bunch of money. d) Worry about who your future husband is 24/7.
Once you've changed your future and you're happy with your husband, what do you do now?
a) Figure out possible career paths for yourself. b) Check up on your family. c) Use knowledge of the future to your benefit, while avoiding the butterfly effect. d) Whine because you want a hotter guy.
After you've generally screwed everything up to the point where you're depressed and living in an unhappy marriage, what do you do now?
a) Leave the future alone because, you, idiot that you are, can change it simply by not marrying who your Facebook page says you will. b) Realize that the future is constantly changing and that there are millions of outcomes that become void once you're aware of them. c) Realize that because you've seen this outcome, that means your future self wants it. d) Whine about how unfair everything is.
Now that you've really fucked up your future, you decide to kiss your best friend, who absolutely adores you, in the hopes of having a drastic change in your future. What do you do when he calls you out on your bullshit?
a) Apologize b) Ask him out. c) Feign confusion. d) Blame him and make him apologize to you.
If you answered d) to any of the above, please defriend me and stop reading this review. I have no patience for you in my social sphere.
Emma is quite honestly one of the most shallow characters I've ever had the displeasure to read about. Her thoughts revolve around guys, 24/7. Which guy is hot, which guy isn't, and who she's going to marry. Seriously, her big (one chapter) resolution was about how she never gave herself to her boyfriend completely and she resolved to be more committed. Eh, no. Her real problem is that she was a shallow bitch who didn't really care who she used to get what she wanted. And she didn't really have goals outside of getting a hot husband, unless you count her fleeting commitment to getting into a decent college, which is dropped halfway through the novel to focus on her relationships.
There's nothing wrong with a novel that focuses on relationships -- when those relationships are interesting. The character development here is barebones at best.
The award for biggest hypocritical misandrist goes to Kellan, Emma's best friend. Honestly, I couldn't have cared less about her plot line. And, strange enough, it's never resolved.
Just remember this bit of wisdom -- if a girl is leading you on and jerking your chain left and right, don't ever think about moving on because she might want you back. And if you go on a date, she has the right to be pissy, especially when she decided, that very week, to break up with her boyfriend and go on a date with another guy she talks about constantly. Because you're her back up plan. Don't ever forget that. It's not manipulation. It's love, girls and boys.
I liked Syd. Unfortunately, she's the placeholder girlfriend. Why Josh likes Emma over her, I have no fucking idea. Sydney is hot. Sydney is nice. Sydney is rich. And Sydney is way more interesting than Emma. In fact, I wanted to know the details of her relationship with Rick and what might have lead to her being the only girl in their class to stand up for No means No and Yes means Yes.
4. The Plot
Plot lines are mentioned and dropped like 2012 republican candidates. It's ridiculous. One moment, Josh is worried that his brother might be gay. The next? Nothing. One moment Emma think Kellan is pregnant. The next? Nothing. As for the main plot line? The only reason I finished this book was because I wanted to know if Emma would be unhappy in her future, and if Josh would move on. That's a piss poor way to keep the story moving.
5. The End
There was no end. It's like someone left out the third act because they were too lazy to finish writing the book. And I'm guilty of that. But I expect more from Printz honor authors and NYT Bestselling authors.
6. The Science, or Lack of
If you're reading this because you want a decent spec fic read, don't bother. This is a Degrassi special that desperately wants to fit in with the Animorphs.
This is why people don't like YA. Along with Across the Universe, this novel is everything that's wrong with the genre. Instead of focusing on, I dunno, the story, the characters, or, hell, an interesting romance, we're once again given a boring tale of Mr. And Mrs. White Teenager and their Oh So Dull First World Problems. Save yourself the effort. Just go watch The N. ...more
Nothing Like You, by Lauren Strasnick, is more of a novella than a novel, clocking in at 38k words. Strangely, this is both its strongest, and weakestNothing Like You, by Lauren Strasnick, is more of a novella than a novel, clocking in at 38k words. Strangely, this is both its strongest, and weakest, element. While somewhat underwritten, yet rather repetitive, Nothing Like You is not a bad book. In fact, it's rather good.
But (and there's the "but" I know you were waiting for) -- it feels like an unedited Sara Zarr novel. Sara Zarr, author of two of my favorite books -- Story of a Girl and How to Save a Life (by the way, when is that woman going to win a Printz?) -- is an expert on crafting characters quickly without sacrificing depth and development. She is a minimalist in the best sense of the word. And while Lauren Strasnick is so, so close to having Zarr's skill, she's not quite there.
I've also read, but not reviewed, Strasnick's Her and Me and You (which has a gorgeous cover), and it suffers from the exact same problems as Nothing Like You. It is underwritten whenever the "novel" starts to get interesting and overwritten in the boring scenes. I understand, some authors like to hit on theme, over and over and over again, but a little bit of subtlety goes a long way.
In case you're interested, I'm listening to what could quite possibly be the weirdest song ever -- The Chipmunks Christmas Song Slowed Down, aptly named The Chipmunks ft. Satan. It did not effect the writing of this review in any way. And there will be spoilers. Just warning you now. It's fault if you aren't reading carefully. This is a website dedicated to books.
Nothing Like You opens with Holly, our main character, losing her virginity in the backseat of a guy's car. This guy is Paul. You will soon discover that he is a douche. That is not a spoiler. If you cannot tell that Paul is a douche from the first few chapters, despite the rose tinted glasses Holly wears for most of the novel, I have nothing to say to you.
Now, Holly feels like a teenage girl. She has flaws. She has traits. I can sympathize with her. Her mother recently died from breast cancer and unlike the protagonist of a certain other book who's mother died from cancer, she does not go batshit insane and undo her characterization from the previous book by going fucking crazy and plotting to ruin her best friend's life. Ahem. Anyway, Holly is a good character. I have no qualms with her, other than that I don't know how she can’t see past Paul's douchery. But I will excuse that, simply because I know I'm seeing the novel outside of Holly's POV.
Her character arc is also convincing in that she learns from her mistakes, suffers (unduly if I may say so, but rather realistically), and rises up to grab life by the balls and -- no, that last clause does not happen. There is no "positive" ending to this novel. It's bittersweet, if that.
My only problem with Holly's arc is that I don't feel it ties her mother angst properly to the rest of the novel. The two arcs don't mesh well. In fact, either one could almost suffice as the main plot, but in a novel so short, it feels like they're competing for popularity. And that there are also three other subplots -- well, you can see how there's too much here.
Main Plot -- Fucking the school D-bag who has a GF and feeling guilty Sub Plot -- Mom just died from cancer Sub Plot -- Crushing on best friend who sleeps with a lot of girls Sub Plot -- Dad is sad Sub Plot -- Going to a psychic Sub Plot -- Le gasp, I just became BFF with the GF of the d-bag I'm fucking and I feel even more guilty
This is a lot to cram into barely 40k. And most of it doesn't even complement each other. What does avoiding a psychic have to do with losing a parent to cancer? Nothing. There's no overall "mystical" air to the novel. I understand that it's simply a way to hit us over the head, once again, with the fact that Holly doesn't want to face the death of her mother and that she'd rather avoid it or face it with fake love, but my god, there are other, more subtle ways to do it. And we repeat this more than three times. I am not dumb. I got it the first time.
Take a movie like American Beauty, which has a million sub plots carefully woven together to create a coherent story. Those sub-plots build upon each other and complement each other. They form a nice web. Most of the sub plots here do not build upon each other and do not lead into one another. If mapped, one plot would lead you to Canada from LA and the other to NY from Birmingham.
Believe me, I know a lot about comfort sex, but that plot would have made so much more sense along with the --
-- Give me a second, I just had a brilliant idea.
Okay. Remember that flashback to the beach vacation with the blonde guy Holly was crushing on when she was 12? The Paul sub-plot just feels so disconnected from this novel because it doesn't really touch into the heart of Holly's problem (and the other sub-plots) -- she misses her damn mom.
What if that blonde guy -- Jason, btw -- came back with his mom, Astrid, to help Jeff (Holly’s dad) acclimate to being alone? Not much of a stretch. And he came back twenty-six, hotter, tanner, and married? And the girl he's married to? Nicest girl in the world. In fact, she can just be an older Saskia for all I care.
And here we have it -- a connection to the main sub-plot. And it's more scandalous, which, in turn, makes it more interesting.
Part of the problem here is that I did not understand Holly's attraction to Paul outside of his grungy smoking ways. And that's not much to be attracted to, if I'm going to be honest. I'll admit it, a well written bad boy -- cough, Prince Zuko -- is awesome. Paul is just underwritten and douchey. I know nothing of his motivation or attraction to Holly when the novel starts outside of getting a quick fuck and when it ends, I'm even more confused. At first, we're to understand that Paul is only fucking Holly because Saskia won't put out. Then, we come to find (from this BFF bit that grows between Saskia and Holly) that he's lying. He's been fucking Saskia for a long, long time and that's really all they do. Any real motivation Paul had flew right out the window because there's no way I'm going to believe he actually likes Holly when all they do is fuck. They never have a real conversation. So, he's just a douche bag. That's it. No characterization at all. Or, he’s really, really creepy. And, yes, Paul is a creep. But that’s never developed either.
And Saskia isn't any better.
I would attempt to describe her character, but that's asking too much of me. She's nice. And... that's it. Really. Nice and waifish and giving and kind and selfless. So, yeah. That's her in a nutshell. Sure, there's an attempt to delve into her character, but it's not well done. In fact, I'd call it sloppy. We're given two or three throw away lines about how hard Saskia has it at home, trying to keep her depressed brother from killing himself. And that could go somewhere -- I mean, think of the brilliance of that mirroring theme! Holly's mom, the most important person in her life, died painfully by forces out of her control. Saskia's brother, the most important person in her life, wants to take his own life. Unfortunately, this never goes anywhere.
I won't touch on the other characters. They're briefly mentioned and given a smidgen of characterization, but not much.
In addition to that, I feel like Holly loses too much. Like, in a desperate attempt to make everything crash down upon her main character, Strasnick pulls the rug, the ground, and the entire Earth out from under Holly who's already reeling from the death of her mother in an attempt to make you realize that, yes, cheating is bad, and bad things happen to cheaters. Though nothing happens to d-bag Paul. At all. Seriously. We're still doing this in the 21st century? The guy gets off scot-free and everything happens to the chick? I understand that this is a realistic contemporary novel, but this is also a NOVEL, where anything can happen. And I feel like the novel would have taken a much stronger route by rejecting the "homewrecker" ending and letting Holly keep a little bit of her dignity. I mean, jeesh, she didn't even start seeing the guy when he had a girlfriend.
Now, on for the positives. This novel is very quotable, as in, the prose is very, very good. Seriously, go to any other review and you will find awesome quotes to fill your little emo notebooks for days. I know you’ve kept them safe after you watched “Perks of Being a Wallflower.”
To further this positivity, Nils is a good character. Well, partially. I mean, he grows. But we're never given any depth into his thoughts or his motivation. But this is easily explained. Holly is so self centered and introspective, she never tries to contemplate the motives of the other characters. Not once does she think on her relationship to Nils from his POV. Or any other character, really. She lacks the ability to empathize, or Strasnick lacks the ability to write a character who can. Murakami does a helluva a lot of navel-gazing, but even his characters pull their heads out of their asses long enough to contemplate the emotions and thoughts of their friends, family, etc...
Now, onto Nils. He's the best friend. He kisses Holly. He's kind of a "manwhore." Eventually, he ditches Holly when he finds out she fucked a guy in their special shack. When she was drunk. And unstable. I'm surprised this girl didn't try to kill herself, to be honest. She lost everything. Everything. Months after she lost her month in one of the most painful ways imaginable. I wish Nils, of all people in this novel, had been more understanding. Yes, I wish Holly had gotten the guy. Or something. Anything.
Let me repeat -- I don't mind depressing endings. I like American Beauty. It is one of my favorite movies and it is the most depressing movie ever (besides Grave of the Fireflies). The ending is not justified here. There's no balance. No wrap up. It just ends. And while Story of a Girl pulls the same bullshit -- we'll just end here in an attempt to seem realistic because life (har har) is messy with no real ending -- it just feels wronger (sp?) here. Story of a Girl kind of works because it takes place during a much shorter length of time. This skips a few months and expects the reader to fill in the blanks. I'm sorry, Strasnick, I'm not going to do your work for you. My imagination is not for rent. You decided to write 40k. You could've written 60k. I call that lazy.
Now, last thing – I liked the parts where Holly felt her breasts. No, not like that, perverts. She feels her breasts to check if she has cancer. She’s freaked out about it, as I’d expect her to be. Much better than the creepy breast fetish a certain goth MC has after her mom dies from cancer. This gives a personal, unique incite into Holly’s head and where she is, emotionally – as in, she’s emotionally fucked up.
So, this gets 3.5 stars for the rushed ending, underwritten characters, and the astounding "meh" I felt as I was reading most of it. It feels like something I'd write when I'm depressed. And I don't think that's a good thing.
FYI: My god, this book led me to the Greenday -- aka, whiney alt adult rock -- section of YouTube. Actually, it makes perfect sense. Rise Against and Greenday and Vampire Weekend are the perfect soundtrack for this novel. Kind of good, kind of bland, kind of whiny, but reliable in that you know what you're going to get and it's going to be pretty consistent. Background noise. That's it. Not *shudders* Nicki Minaj but definitely not Q-Tip. More like Lupe Fiasco. Good, but not awesome.
This book is the Lupe Fiasco YA. That is all. ...more
It isn't everyday I read a book I really like. I was pretty ambivalent for the first fifty or so pages, but the premise (and the love triangle) intrig It isn't everyday I read a book I really like. I was pretty ambivalent for the first fifty or so pages, but the premise (and the love triangle) intrigued me.
Alright, the love triangle more-so than the premise. I'll admit it -- I'm a sucker for well written love triangles, especially if one of the love interests is the best friend of the MC. I like best-friends-fall-in-love stories. Even more than that, I prefer books written from male POV. Yes, three admissions in one review. I feel like I'm in an AA meeting.
Anyway, I didn't expect to like this book. I figured it be another lame two-star contemporary that lacked substance or meaning. I was wrong. It's, more or less, kind of like Zero, by Tom Leveen. Underneath the light exterior is a complicated psuedo-dark read. Not Courtney Summers dark, but it certainly isn't something you'd shelve next to a Meg Cabot book. That's not to say that Meg Cabot books lack substance or meaning (well, I think they do, but that's for another review).
Just because a book is light doesn't mean it should lack substance, but the majority that I've read, ie Anna and the French Kiss, anything by Lauren Barnholdt, and anything by Simone Elkeles, aren't able to deliver a memorable read. I read them once, gripe about it here, and forget them soon after. Flash Burnout is different. It starts out like one of those books and then it evolves.
Now, if you read my reviews on a regular basis, you know how much I hate stupid teenagers and unrealistic portrayals of drugs/alcohol (on either end of the spectrum). But more than that, I hate when authors are unable to decide what kind of book they're writing. It's like they're having a genre crisis -- looking at you Glee. Unless you're writing a black comedy, it's very difficult to have an MC who cracks a bunch of (bad) jokes and still maintain a serious tone. Even more than that, it's almost impossible to feel sorry for an MC who deals with petty shit when the supporting characters have way more crap on their plates. Why should I throw you a pity party over the cute boy not noticing you in class when your friend's mom is dying from cancer?
The main character, Blake, is likable. It's as simple as that. I cared what happened to him. I wanted to see if he'd screw around with his best friend. Curiosity and empathy. That's all it takes to get me to finish a book. You don't need space ships, vampire boyfriends, or zombie plagues. You should be able to take those elements out of your book and state in one sentence what your novel is about. If you're unable to do that, I'm under the impression that you have a problem.
In one sentence, what is Flash Burnout about? It's about a guy choosing between a girl who wants him and a girl who needs him. That's the core plot. Hell, even the inside cover jacket says as much.
And the ending? I liked it. I want a sequel from Melissa's POV, provided it doesn't follow in the footsteps of Goth Girl Rising.
My main problem with this book? The way Blake refers to his GF as his girl. It's kind of odd, almost bordering on objectification. Coupled with the way he treats her, I think he could do with a little more suffering. Also, the pop culture references are bit much, as well as the slang. But I love the bits on photography.
4.25 stars. This is tied with Finding Grace for the best contemporary book I've read this year. ...more
Reread on 2/11/13: It didn't hold the same charm on my second time around. Possibly because I hated the way Noah and Chase treated Melinda, and desperReread on 2/11/13: It didn't hold the same charm on my second time around. Possibly because I hated the way Noah and Chase treated Melinda, and desperately wished for her to become a fully realized character. Ah well, there's only so much you can do with 50,000 words, and Moskowitz's writing is so non-minimalistic and navel-gazey, I don't think I would've stood this out for 70,000k. It's rather odd, I like Looking for Alaska more every time I read it, though I dislike The Perks of Being a Wallflower every time I re-read it unless I'm buzzed or high. Perhaps I should just stop re-read things, period.
Invincible Summer is complete with pretentious kids, an unattainable girl, and familial conflict; all of which make for an interesting read. If made into a movie, it would be a smart comedy--otherwise known as a comedy-drama--following in the footsteps of The Royal Tenenbaums, Juno, and Little Miss Sunshine.
Our narrator is Chase 'Everboy' McGill. His namesake comes from JM Barrie, author of Peter Pan. Apparently, his designated love interest deemed that he would stay young forever. See what I mean about pretentious kids?
We follow Chase over the course of four summers. In essence, this is a coming of age story. It's not up to par with Looking for Alaska or The Catcher in the Rye, but it explores themes neither were willing to discuss.
Chase is sensitive and naive. That's the extent of his personality. In league with his literary counterpart, Holden Caulfield, he wants to remain young and innocent for the rest of his life.
His Phoebe is Claudia; a girl who wants to be an adult without suffering any of the consequences. His Ally is Gideon; a cute, deaf little boy. His DB is Noah, although Noah isn't a phony.
In addition to his siblings, we're presented with another family. Melinda, our designated love interest, Shannon, the best-friend and Bella, the Jane.
The main problem with Invincible Summer is that it suffers from character soup. We're presented with more than five main characters, but they aren't allowed to progress past their base stereotypes. They remain two-dimensional throughout the entire story, which is detrimental to a character driven story. When you think Moskowitz is allowing one character the opportunity to development, another character interrupts and the story goes into an entirely different direction. However, Moskowitz has a talent for introducing characters. When Melinda and Noah were introduced, I immediately grasped their personalities.
Her prose isn't bad either. While Invincible Summer starts out slow, by the second chapter it really picks up. But the Camus quotes are entirely pretentious and unneeded. If accompanied by other poets, like TS Elliot or Dylan Thomas, I would have accepted that these kids were just that smart. As it stands, they are pretentious without the intelligence that goes with being pretentious. Yes, I like that word.
Moskowitz also has a way with capturing emotions. Unlike Blue Valentine, Invincible Summer is emotional roller-coaster where you understand not only the what, but the how.
Unfortunately, towards the end, I'm unable to sympathize with Chase because the build up to the climax is insufficient and predictable. If you know of JM Barrie's childhood, or if you've read The Catcher in the Rye, you'll understand what I mean.
In most coming of age stories, the parents are neglected to focus on other issues. Here, the parents are a major force, but they are poorly developed. However, much like bitchsquealer in Will Grayson, Will Grayson, I learned a new curse word.
Now, onto my favorite aspect of this novel: the destructive love triangle.
I've not discussed this topic previously, but pretend that I have. While Chase is the protagonist, Melinda is the main character. The main character forces the protagonist to change. Often, the Manic Pixie Dream Girl is the main character. Who changes in Looking for Alaska? Who remains static? The novel is about Alaska, hence she is the main character. But the protagonist is Miles. The main character is often known as the Christ figure, but that's a discussion for another time.
Melinda is a Manic Pixie Dream Girl who is no-longer a dream girl. In fact, she's a nightmare. She's everything Chase wants, but can't have--until suddenly, she wants to have sex with him. She's like Louisa, from Y Tu Mama Tambien; an MPDG who's all grown up.
At first, I thought Melinda would evolve from this worn out stereotype, but sadly, this doesn't happen. We're given a taste of all the potential she has, but that dissipates after they have sex. Their whole relationship consists of sex, illegal sex at that. Melinda is six years older than Chase, but it doesn't seem like that. Until I was told, I guessed that she was only two or three years his elder.
Melinda sleeps with him because she knows that he would never leave her. For a while, I was getting predatory vibes from her, and they were enhanced from my knowledge of psychology. Delving into this would be a spoiler, so I'll leave it up to your imagination.
Also, we're given a love triangle, but none of the conflict that comes with one. Chase feels used, but this is never explored. Instead, we place the blame on Melinda. I think the explanation for her actions is a bit weak. If it was a big reveal, I would have felt differently. Instead, we're told up front and it's never discussed. Thankfully, Moscowitz doesn't allow a girl to come between the two brothers.
Don't get me wrong; I think Moscowitz is a pretty good writer. If fleshed out, this would have been a solid four star book. Sadly, the interesting conversations take up very little space and Chase's inner narration--which, by and large, is somewhat boring--causes an irregular pacing issue.
3.5 stars. And yes, I would definitely check out her other books.
Disclaimer: I received this book through Galley Grab. No outside sources influenced this review. In fact, I think Harper Teen blacklisted me after the bad reviews I wrote for them....more
If you follow my reviews, you know how much I hate clique books and mean girls. I exRe-read: 1/18/12
Somehow, it's even better the second time around.
If you follow my reviews, you know how much I hate clique books and mean girls. I expected to really dislike this book. I thought it would just be another Gossip Girls wannabe. For once, I was wrong. First impressions can be deceiving.
Some Girls Are is a lot like Just Listen, by Sarah Dessen. But unlike Sarah Dessen, Courtney Summers knows how to handle gritty topics.
The protagonist of Some Girls Are is Regina Afton, a sixteen-year-old mean girl. She was almost raped by Donnie, the boyfriend of her best-friend, Anna, at a party. Regina made the mistake of going to Kara, a fellow mean girl that hates her, and telling Kara the entire story. Kara warps the story and tells Anna that Regina and Donnie slept together. Now Regina is an outcast and is being tormented everyday at school by Anna and her previous friends, Kara, Jeannette, and Marta. Oh, and the whole school hates her. The only person she can confide in, is Michael, a boy who's life she once made miserable.
I liked Regina. She had flaws, and she admitted them. I hate protagonists like Bella Swan and Norah Grey who've never done anything wrong in their entire lives. The truth is, we've all done something we regret before. At least 1 out of 5 people has participated in bullying someone else. It might not be to the extremes presented in this book, but if you've done it, you know you've done it. Lets face it, even if you don't like Regina, you can understand the situation she's in. Everyone has wanted to be popular at one point. A lot of people are willing to do anything to be popular. But they never expect for karma to retaliate.
I've read a few reviews of this book, and a lot of people say that the bullying presented is unrealistic. We've all heard the tales of boys being bullied. Boys being sodomized in locker rooms, boys getting swirlies and wedgies, boys getting the crap beaten out of them in bathrooms. So girls can't get bullied? Girl on girl bullying is an entirely different beast. Girls don't exactly have the physical strength to beat the shit out of someone -- or maybe some do? -- but I know that some will fight over the pettiest things. And for the record, I'm under the impression that Anna is a sociopath. She feels no guilt, no empathy, and she's a horrible manipulator.
I also liked Michael. While the romance between him and Regina happened a bit to quick for my liking, I still appreciated the fact that he wasn't running to forgive her. He stuck to his guns.
Courtney Summers has a way of making you hate her villains. You know that feeling you get whenever you're watching Silence of the Lambs, you just want Buffalo Bill to die, or when you're watching the Karate Kid. They make you really hate the villains. Summers manages to do this, while still making them somewhat three dimensional. I kept on wishing for Regina to do something to Kara and Anna -- anything!
Yesterday, I thought really hard about what I was going to say about this book. The whole rape situation with Regina and Donnie seemed somewhat illogical to me at first. Kinda like in Speak. But then it came to me, why no-one believed Regina. She knew Donnie for two years. In date rape cases, the victim is hardly ever believed. Plus, Kara lied first. I might hate everyone for not believing her, I understand why they didn't.
As for the drugs and the drinking, while some of it stretches my belief a little -- to the point of being unbelievable -- here in Albuquerque there were three underage drinking party busts in just two months. I can understand how they were doing that much drinking, even if I don't think it's a good idea.
My main problem with Speak is that no-one notices what Melinda is going through. That's not a problem with Some Girls Are. Everyone at school notices, they just don't care. Teachers are actually used in this book, even if they're pretty useless. Even her parents notice to some extent, but Regina just refuses to tell them what's wrong. And the pacing is pretty good. I liked the writing style too.
In all, this is a pretty good book. Content wise, it's got some drugs, some drinking, mentions of sex, and a lot of language. But compared to other YA books, it's pretty mild. It would be PG-13 if it was a movie. And it says drugs and drinking to the point of passing out are wrong, and it shows bullying in a negative light, so it's got a moral. This is much better than Cracked Up to Be, Summer's debut. I'd recommend it to anyone and I'll definitely be checking out her next book.
I read this a while ago. It was... okay. I don't remember being particularly awed or amazed. Parts were great, parts were meh; some characters were grI read this a while ago. It was... okay. I don't remember being particularly awed or amazed. Parts were great, parts were meh; some characters were great, some were meh. Perhaps I'll do a re-read in the future. ...more
You gave me an interesting premise, decent main characters, and pretty good chemistry between the main couDear Kissing Kate,
Why did you do that to me?
You gave me an interesting premise, decent main characters, and pretty good chemistry between the main couple (something I find majorly lacking in most YA books, especially YA LGBT), but you failed in one of the most important areas -- your subplots sucked ass. You're like that guy going down on his girlfriend who pulls away and refuses to continue, no matter how much she begs. What's your problem?
Your MC, Lisa, isn't bad. In fact, I kind of liked her. She's one of the better LGBT heroines. I tried reading Annie on My Mind. It bored me. I tried reading Empress of the World. It bored me. I tried reading Keeping You A Secret. Guess what? It bored me. Your MC didn't bore me! That's the first step to making me happy reader.
Now, for the love interest -- Kate. Not a lot of people know this about me, but I'm a huge fan of will-they-won't-they drama. On this front, I was satisfied. In fact, I wanted more of Kate. I found myself skimming to get back to the Kate drama. I didn't give a fuck about Beth, Finn, Ariel/Kimberly, or any of the other characters in those god forsaken subplots. They were boring, two dimensional clichés. In fact, I suspect that your author didn't really care for them either. I think they were just added in to pump this novel up to 50k. Heads up -- many books work just fine as novellas. They suffer when needless, boring subplots are added. Go all the way or don't bother at all because, blue balls really suck.
What did the sub-plots add? Nothing. Why were the relevant to the main plot? Eh, they weren't.
With a book like this, that relies on two main characters trying to figure out their feelings for one another, you focus on those two as much as you can without ever having them cross the line until the climax. They are, in essence, Geisha. They will tempt you, tease you, serve you, but won't actually do anything until the end of the night, when everyone else is gone.
This is my problem with John Green books post Looking for Alaska. I don't give a flying fuck about any of the characters outside of the MC and the love interest. And that's fine, when you devote as little time as necessary to them. But you, Kissing Kate, decided to bring your boring side characters out at every turn, flaunting them in my face, having them strip for god knows whose enjoyment, all the while, leaving the truly interesting story as a side-show when it was the main attraction.
What did Ariel/Kimberly contribute? She was the friend for Lisa to vent to. That's it. Her weirdness didn't matter in terms of advancing the plot.
What did Beth contribute? Besides being the little sister, nothing.
I can’t even remember Darlin’, or whatever her name was.
In fact, the only side characters who contributed to the plot were Jerry and Finn. Jerry, for making Lisa awkward around all that is feminine and Finn, for being the male that makes Lisa realize she's completely in love with Kate.
Alright, book. Despite that bullshit you pulled, I still like you. But I've got more complaining to do.
You have no resolution. You give a climax and drop it. You don't wrap up your romantic arc. I WANT TO KNOW WHAT HAPPENS TO KATE AND LISA!
Obviously, Kate's in love with Lisa, too. Look, I don't like happily ever afters (lie) but I do like conflict resolution. While I understand Lisa is hurt that Kate cares about how she appears to other people, she should see that Kate really likes her. I mean, good fucking god, that girl dumped her beard (well.... not beard. What do you call a guy a girl is dating so people won't think she's gay? A tit? A boob? Yes, boob. That sounds nice. He's clueless, like a boob.), lied about what really happened, and makes up petty excuses to spend time with you. She used to be way too touchy feely with you, and after you make out, she's dying to spend time with you, but doesn't want to get too close. She gets jealous when you date guys and is ecstatic when you don't enjoy the date.
I can see how she'd be upset that Kate isn't willing to out herself, but is it worth throwing away four years of friendship just because you're hurt that she won't admit she's gay? You know you're in love with each other. Just ride it out. I mean, god, she's supposed to be super-hot. Just wait. Obviously, she's not completely adverse to the idea. Even after you kissed a second time, and she rejected you out of fear, she still wants to hang out with you. You just ditch her, ignoring the fact that it might be hard for her to come to terms with what she is. You know, you were the one ignoring her. For what? What do you gain by ditching her? One less friend and one girl who’s in love with you but won’t admit it. I understand that you hate hanging out with her and being unable to talk about what you really feel, but what do you gain by ignoring her? You think she’s just going to change her mind and out herself? Eh, no. So, in essence, you’re ditching your best friend (the girl you love, who you know loves you) for nothing. Logic fail.
ETA: Going back over the parts that I skimmed, I'm even more pissed with Lissa (and you, book).
“And another time I dreamed about a kid from my elementary school, this girl named Cookie Churchill. She was, like, luring me farther into the parking lot.”
“Cookie?” Ariel said.
“Yeah. We used to be friends, sort of, but sometimes she’d be mean to me, too. Like if I got upset about something, she’d say, ‘What’s your prob, little snob?’ And one time she told the whole class my toenails were gross.”
“So why’d you hang out with her?”
“I don’t know. I honestly don’t.” I shrugged. “I guess I still liked her, even though she made me feel like crap.”
Ariel looked at me in an odd way.
“What?” I said.
“You heard what you just said, right?” She waited, then raised her eyebrows. “You still liked her, even though she made you feel like crap?”
“Yeah, well, I was in third grade. Give me a break.”
“That’s not what I mean,” she said. “Cookie doesn’t remind you of anyone? Someone who isn’t in third grade?”
“Ariel, I have no idea what you’re—” I stopped. Blood rushed to my face.
“Oh. Oh, God, I didn’t think about it like that.”
“In your dream it was Cookie, but I bet it was really Kate.”
“Wow, that is so weird,” I said. I thought about it for a second. “But yeah, they both treated me the same, didn’t they? That kind of freaks me out.”
Way to compare a stupid 3rd grader who made you feel like shit to your best friend who's having the exact same issues with her sexuality as you. Brilliant. By the end of the book, Lissa is back to square one, only she's friends with the two-dimensional Ariel, who just happens to poof a happy lesbian couple from out of her ass. Instead of confronting your problems or, I don't know, trying to help your friend with hers, I guess it's just better to ditch her and run off with someone else because your friend won't make out with you. Yeah. That's what good friends do.
And, seriously, all we get is kissing. I mean, I have no problem with a book that's just kissing, but come on. If we cut out all those horrible, horrible subplots (or just made them better) and added more scenes between Kate and Lisa, and gave this book a proper resolution, I can see a sex scene fitting in. I was expecting one. Or least something more than a short kiss in the final confrontation between the main couple.
Anyway, yeah, I have a lot to complain about, book. And, as you're an inanimate object (I can't spell to save my life, so spell check corrected inannimate to intimate. A book as an intimate object. Interesting), you can't answer my questions. I'm just going to say that I'm very disappointed. You're the best YA book I've read featuring lesbians, but goddamnit, you could've been so much more.
Sincerely, Your Slightly Pleased, But Mostly Disgruntled Reader
PS -- I hate you so much for not including a resolution. There are so many innuendos I could include right now, but I won't. I'll just say that there’s no love trope I hate more than the open ended, maybe I'll move on bullshit ending. Well, except insta-love, crappy love triangles, and crappy forbidden love.
PPS -- Finish your fucking third act. I hate reading unfinished books.
PPPS -- Love you, Sara Zarr, but that goes for you, too. Your subplots are vastly superior, though....more