Beth's Reviews > You Against Me

You Against Me by Jenny Downham
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's review
Jan 16, 11

liked it
bookshelves: 2011-reads, read-on-kindle, january-2011
Read in January, 2011

If I'm honest, this book is probably more of a 3.5/5 for me, but it definitely doesn't deserve to be dropped to a 3.

Downham's writing is superb. I hated Before I Die, but You Against Me is a lot more basic, stripped down, interesting and realistic. There's no florid language to draw an artificial reaction out of you; this is two characters and a situation. This is gritty, heartfelt and honest. The characters are lovingly drawn and flawed, but relatable. The ending is a great balance between hopeful and not so picture perfect. I was initially disappointed that we didn't get to see the trial, but ultimately it was the right decision. Also, I was one of the people who believed that Downham couldn't pull the premise off without it seeming forced and contrived. It didn't. It was plausible and believable.

But there was one huge problem with the book that I just couldn't get past. It's something that seems much more rife in English novels that any other: the concept that the middle classes are evil. Very much Screw The Rules, I Have Money. While the lower classes are hardworking and truthful - flawed, yes, but still One Of Us.

This problem was present in its highest order in YAM. I never once believed that Tom was innocent. This is coming from someone who is ridiculously objective about rape. I am "innocent until proven guilty" the whole way. But Ellie's father was one hair away from being a mustache-twirling villain. Karyn is a plot device, not a character; we see her maybe three times in total, and she's never asked to go through the details of her attack as Tom is. She's just there, and then she's proven right. Big deal. I didn't really care about her. That element of it was very one-sided and disappointing to me. But, still, a good book.
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