Wendy Darling's Reviews > Pink

Pink by Lili Wilkinson
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's review
Sep 12, 11

liked it
bookshelves: aussies, heroines-wimpy, lgbtqi, read-2011, young-adult, huge-disappointments, readalong
Read from September 08 to 09, 2011

It's really weird to not know how to rate a book. I don't normally use images in my reviews, but in this particular case, there's no better way to clearly explain the yo-yo-ing of my opinions as I was reading this novel.


See what the problem was?

The beginning of the story thrusts us into the unlikely scenario of Ava suddenly switching schools because she wants to go to a place where it's okay to wear pink. "Pink" is the code word for not only the freedom to wear girly clothes and sport your natural hair color, but also the freedom to date boys and to be a decent student. (!) Ava has a too-cool-for-school girlfriend named Chloe, but Ava thinks she wants to do some more exploring in other pastures. And apparently being cool and a liberal means that you're not supposed to care about anything and you're shunned for wanting to do well at academics.


Anyway, I've accepted many a more far-reaching scenario than this, so I just went along with it, primarily because the writing is admittedly very good and Ava's voice was extremely readable. But after awhile, I realized much to my dismay that Ava didn't really have much of a personality. It's true that the main theme of the book is about exploring options and deciding who you want to be, and there's a certain amount of confusion that goes along with that. But Ava subverted so much of her personality, made so many mistakes, and lied to so many people, that it became more and more difficult to feel any sympathy for her. Particularly when I had no idea who Ava really was.

The huge low point of this book, however, came about two-thirds of the way through when Ava does something really terrible to one of her friends--for no reason whatsoever except that she wants to fit in and to look cool. I really hate it when people are mean, especially in the guise of superiority, and I absolutely despise the fact that this was done in conjunction with a subject of great sensitivity. (view spoiler) Ava had already exhibited lots of character traits I didn't like, including being a reactionary show-off, but after this I got really annoyed with her. If that weren't enough, she continues to make more and more stupid mistakes with not admitting what she did, hard-partying, and (view spoiler). She did redeem herself in the end in a way that surprisingly, did not feel emotionally manipulative, although it relied a great deal on one-note characters, a Hollywood-style grand gesture, and one character behaving in the complete opposite way than she'd been presented throughout the rest of the story.

I think overall, I just found it very hard to like a character who doesn't exhibit a very strong personality and who lies so much. She seemed very young for her age, and many of her actions seemed more like those of a juvenile or middle grade character than one in high school. I did like that the author did such a great job of showing how good Ava is in math, however, and I also liked the snappy dialogue, Sam (who has a great scene of putting Ava in her place by explaining the difference between Greek homo and Latin homo), and the many Battlestar Galactica and other nerdy references. It's a shame, because I liked the writing quite a bit and there were a number of quotes that tickled my fancy, including:

He just spread his arms, and gathered me into a warm embrace. It's what I imagined being hugged by a bear might feel like, giant and soft and utterly comforting, and smelling strangely of marshmallows.

In the end, though I tipped up the rating for the writing and for saving Ava somewhat, these two quotes sum up perfectly how I feel about Ava, and therefore about the book:

She became someone different when she was around those other girls--someone mean and aloof, her cool hardened into cold.


"No," said Sam. "I don't care if you're a lesbian or not. I don't want to know you anymore because you're a bitch."
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Reading Progress

09/08/2011 page 29
10.0% "You know, I think I've been to the Lesbian Bat Cave. :D"
09/08/2011 page 176
59.0% "I probably should have stopped reading this earlier. Whoops. Worst readalong partner EVER." 75 comments
09/09/2011 page 180
60.0% "Okay, Sam is right, but this eye color test is BS. Of COURSE she would know the color of her crush's eyes."
09/09/2011 page 218
73.0% "Ava, I am really, REALLY ticked off at you." 2 comments
09/09/2011 page 278
93.0% "And now the book is trying to win me over again with an 180 degree turn and BSG references, argh! Must...resist..."

Comments (showing 1-45 of 45) (45 new)

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Wendy Darling Readalong with Maja (yay!) and Lisa (yay!). :)

Maja (The Nocturnal Library) Oooh, so this is the official thread. :)
I've been meaning to ask you, is this the edition you have? It's just SO pretty, inside and out. I want to hug it, but that would be weird! :D

Wendy Darling No, I have the hardcover with the big lips on the front, courtesy of Flann! This cover is VERY pretty, though, I can imagine clutching it to my bosom. :D P.S. I've forgotten what this book is about, so now I'm wondering whether I should read the synopsis again before reading it...or do I let myself be surprised?

message 4: by Tatiana (last edited Sep 08, 2011 11:06AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Tatiana Oh, this is good stuff you've picked!

message 5: by Maja (The Nocturnal Library) (last edited Sep 08, 2011 11:21AM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

Maja (The Nocturnal Library) Wen, you can do either, it's pretty clear from the start what it's about. I'm on page 31, btw. :D

Tatiana, you'll end up getting a LOT of notifications for this thread. :)

Wendy Darling It's my first Lili Wilkinson, Tatiana. I hear great things...and I'm in the mood for something fun. :)

Maja (The Nocturnal Library) Oh, A Pocketful of Eyes was very original and I liked her sense of humor. :) I'd read that one with Flann and we had such a great time with all the taxidermy details. :D

Cecilia Gray I am reading this, too! I also have the big lip cover but this is one is so cool

message 9: by Skittles (new)

Skittles I love Lili Wilkinson and have been dying to get my hands on this book. I hope you like it!

Limonessa Ok, ok Maja, page 31?! I'm still looking for the book on my shelves :D
Wendy, it's my first Lili Wilkinson too and I am not reading any synopsis. I like the surprise factor.

Maja (The Nocturnal Library) Yeah, it was really hard work, getting to page 31. I need a vacation. :D

Limonessa Maja wrote: "Yeah, it was really hard work, getting to page 31. I need a vacation. :D"

Fancy a vacation with some farm animals? I'm still scrubbing...

Maja (The Nocturnal Library) Oh, shush, at least you got to see butterflyville. Wendy would love that, I think. The romantic in her would die of happiness.
Also, why am I not getting my notifications?

Wendy Darling I want to see farm animals! :( We have our big county fair here in a few weeks, though, so I think I may get to see some then. I'll be officially starting this this afternoon. :)

I can't wait to hear what you think of this, Cecelia, I hope you'll be posting updates as you read, too. And Skyla, this has gotten 4 or 5 stars from nearly all my friends who have read it, which is a great sign!

Maja (The Nocturnal Library) It wasn't about farm animals, it was about a room full of tropical butterflies. That sounded like something you'd like. :)

I just finished Virtuosity and I loved it! Where is my luck coming from?! Wait, don't answer that! :D

Wendy Darling Butterflies...Lisa, what is this?? Our natural history museum has a butterfly thing every year. It's basically a big greenhouse with butterflies loose in it, which is just lovely. One of them landed on me once, I felt very special.

Limonessa That's where I went today. A similar thing. As I was telling Maja, some looked like flying pieces of lace. And since the microclimate in there is close to tropical, they had all these varieties of beautiful, exotic plants. Very nice.

Limonessa Virtuosity needs to be read soon then. Mh, good to know.

Wendy Darling Nearly everyone I know has loved Virtuosity. I downloaded it from GG ages ago but still haven't gotten around to it.

Limonessa Couldn't have said it better Wendy. This book was populated by so many snobs that I could literally smell the sh*t.

Wendy Darling Thanks, Lisa. It's a shame our first readalong was such a bust! Hopefully Blood Song will be more enjoyable.

Maja (The Nocturnal Library) A fantastic review, Wen! I have to hurry up and write one, but I'm feeling especially lazy today. Also, I think my rating will be two stars after all, mainly because of the characterization.

Wendy Darling This is one of those I knew I'd have to bang out quickly, otherwise I would never get around to it. *cough* Circle Nine *cough*.

I don't blame you for going with two stars...I'm feeling generous this morning, but there were really so many problems that detracted from the enjoyment.

Flannery That last quote is so classic. I remember being so frustrated with Ava at that coffee bar part with her ex-gg because it was so uncomfortable to read--I also hate when people are mean. (who doesn't?)

Wendy Darling Yeah, it was so hard to relate to Ava to begin with, and then she just kept making more and more mistakes without doing enough to make me love her.

I can think of a few people who like "mean," though, Flann. ;)

message 26: by Shirley (new)

Shirley Marr Awesome review Wendy! I've read Pink and wussed out when it came to reviewing cos I felt I couldn't put all the up-and-down feelings I had toward it into anything coherant... and you have done it perfectly here. Dig the graph (I also like how it's pink)

Wendy Darling Thanks Shirley! As the lady who created my favorite kick-ass YA heroine of the year, I'm not surprised that we agree on this one. And of course the graph had to be pink. :D

message 28: by Laura (new) - added it

Laura "tickled my fancy"--love that phrase! :) I guess you could say, you were not tickled pink by this book. :P

Wendy Darling Hah, no. I liked some elements of this book, but overall it certainly did not "tickle my fancy." :P

message 30: by mark (new)

mark monday wish i could double-Like this just for including that awesome graph!

Wendy Darling Hah, thanks Mark.

message 32: by Leanne (new)

Leanne Oh it was the last comment that got me, and the graph. Thanks for the review!!

Wendy Darling At your service, ma'am. *sweeping curtsey* And yeah, that last quote is a doozy, isn't it? Sums it up perfectly.

(Tori-Smexybooks) smexys_sidekick I love that you used a graph. :)

Cecilia Gray OMG graphed reviews - taking it to a whole notha level, Wendy. That Sam quote was a pump-my-fist-and-cheer moment for me in the book.

Wendy Darling Sam was the best part of this book for me, too, Cecelia! I'm glad you and Smexy enjoyed the graph, though I'm hardly the first to ever do one. :)

message 37: by Liliana (new)

Liliana Saquicela Ha I love this chart....this is seriously how I should rate some books a,,

Wendy Darling Thanks Liliana! It was a weird reading experience for sure.

Julia Lynn Rubin Great review and I completely agree about Ava's lack of personality or likable personality. The chart was accurate.

Wendy Darling Thanks Julia--I'm glad you agreed with me on this one. Also, it'd be fun to make charts more often! Except that it would probably be too depressing.

message 41: by Jessa (new)

Jessa I just wanted to say this is a good review AND I am kind of in love with the chart you made and used to get your point across - that is awesome haha :D I think after reading your review I can definitely see why it plummeted to 2 at one point :( that is terrible and sad (read spoiler, as didn't plan on reading this one). Anyway, awesome review and love the chart :D

Wendy Darling I try not to overuse the whole chart/diagram thing, Jessica. But in this case I thought it was appropriate, hah. And thank you! I'm disappointed I didn't like this book more, too. I'd read so many rave reviews.

message 43: by Jessa (new)

Jessa Wendy Darling wrote: "I try not to overuse the whole chart/diagram thing, Jessica. But in this case I thought it was appropriate, hah. And thank you! I'm disappointed I didn't like this book more, too. I'd read so many ..."
Well, I think it was highly useful at showing how you felt about it - it would certainly be difficult to explain! I almost wish I had thought to make one to show the drop from 4 stars to (this should exist) -10 stars in the book I just finished lol :p! I hate when books are a huge disappointment.

Anyway, I don't even know how I randomly found this review lol, but the chart caught my eye and then I had to read the review and then I had to tell you how much I loved it haha...even though I am quite late in doing so!

Wendy Darling Well, it's much appreciated--I'm glad the review was useful! I often feel so disappointed when I'm conflicted about a book, too. Worse than if I didn't like the whole thing altogether. At least there were clear reasons I could explain for this one, usually the 3 star reviews--the liked, but didn't love books--are the hardest ones to write.

Chloye I like that book to

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