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September Girls

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When Sam's dad whisks him and his brother off to a remote beach town for the summer, he's all for it-- at first. Sam soon realizes, though, that this place is anything but ordinary. Time seems to slow down around here, and everywhere he looks, there are beautiful blond girls. Girls who seem inexplicably drawn to him.

Then Sam meets DeeDee, one of the Girls, and she's different from the others. Just as he starts to fall for her, she pulls away, leaving him more confused than ever. He knows that if he's going to get her back, he'll have to uncover the secret of this beach and the girls who live here.

352 pages, Hardcover

First published May 21, 2013

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About the author

Bennett Madison

8 books143 followers
Bennett Madison is the author of several books for young people, including SEPTEMBER GIRLS and THE BLONDE OF THE JOKE. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.

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Profile Image for Steph Sinclair.
461 reviews11.1k followers
April 28, 2013
EDIT: Okay, here's the thing, I feel the need to clarify a few things. This review is in no way, shape or form alluding to the fact that the author is sexist. Are there characters in the novel that are depicted as sexist? Yes. Do I think the author is sexist and that he was trying to write a sexist book? No. Did the book come off as sexist to me? Yes.

This is just an interpretation of the novel and has nothing to do with the author's intention. Just so we're clear.


Actual rating: NO STARS

I can't believe I survived. Should I laugh? Cry?

Definitely both.

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Full disclosure: I went into this book with a suspicion that I might not enjoy it after my bookish twin panned it. But since I requested this book and was sent a paper ARC from the publisher, I thought I'd try to go in with an open mind and try it out.

That was probably not the best decision I've ever made in life.

It goes without saying that this review will be long, contain spoilers and quotes that might possibly make your eyes bleed. RUN WHILE YOU STILL CAN.

There are two reasons why I felt I NEEDED to have this book. (1) Just look at that cover! (2) The blurb made it sound like a fun summer read. On both of those counts I was mislead, but especially when it came to the blurb.  If you think this book has romance, guess again. If you think it will keep you on the edge of your seat, guess again. If you expect this book to be coherent in any fashion, guess again!

What you will get with September Girls is an anti-climatic plot, slut shaming, gendered language, poorly represented feminism and sexism. Oh and penises. Isn't it everything you could have hoped and dreamed for in a mermaid novel?

Terrible Characters:

Okay so the book follows this boy named Sam. His mother has just left him, his brother, Jeff, and his dad for some mysterious placed called Women's Land (more on that in a bit.) Sam's dad quits his job and they journey to this strange beach that is brimming with girls. Not just any girls. Highly sexualized, blond, perky breasted, toned-bottomed, tanned girls. And guess what? They all want Sam. Sam, who slut shames, starting from page 25 where he reminisces about groping a girl's breasts "through her deliberately slutty Alice in Wonderland costume." Sam, you can't feel a girl up and then slut shame her once you've gotten what you want, silly!

Then you have Jeff, who's only care in the world is having sex as much as possible over the summer. He doesn't particularly care who it's with as long as she is hot and preferably drunk. You know, the usual standards.
"Oh, who gives a fuck," Jeff said. "The point is they're hot and they're here. I hope they're already drunk when we get to the party. I hope they are ready for a piece of this." He groped his crotch obnoxiously.

Such an outstanding gentleman. Ladies, don't rush this stud all at once!

Sebastian was a really random character who didn't even have physical presence in the book, but I've decided I hated him slightly more than the others. You see, Sebastian was just full of dating advice for Sam. And when in doubt, Sam would always wonder what his good old buddy would say.

Oh, Sebastian, I'm such a boring character with absolutely no depth or personality and this hottie is talking to me. What should I say?
"Girls like to talk about themselves. If you can't think of anything to say, just ask some dumb question about nothing, and if you're lucky she'll go off and you won't have to say anything else for another ten minutes and she'll think you're a great listener."

He's like a Dr. Phil, I swear. He clearly understands the complexity of the female mind.

But... I think I might be falling  for her even though we've only interacted a few times. I'm thinking about her all the time, but she seems smart and appears to be ignoring me. What now?! Should I go looking for her, find out where she lives, visit her at her work place until she relents?
"Wait, this is all over some girl? Don't be such a fucking vagina, dude! I mean, dude! You go to the beach for a month and you turn into a human tampon!"

What a guy! I just love it when someone uses the name of my genitals to insult someone! For those of you like me with small female minds, that roughly translated as:

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Were any of the above quotes supposed think, "Oh hells yeah. These guys sound so authentic. This book is so--" Wait, let me see what the back of the ARC says. Oh yeah, "poetic and punchy, sarcastic and true," says Sara Shepard. Well, damn. Who am I to argue with that logic and quotes that were clearly "sarcastic and true." I suppose I'm just a sensitive little female with no humor bone in her body. In fact, I have no bones. I am made of tampons.

What I really don't understand is why Madison couldn't make any of his characters likable. Having your male characters degrade women with their words at any chance they get isn't authentic. It's insulting to both genders and a disservice to humanity.

Anti-climatic plot:

There were times when September Girls attempted to actually tell a story. The only problem is that almost nothing ever happens. Oh, I lied. Sam does do things. Here is his routine:

-Wake up
-Walk around the beach
-Have women thrown at his feet
-Stare at a Girl's "heart-shaped ass." *raging boner* That slut.
-Come home
-Skip monologue. The Price is Right is on.
-Jerk off
-Ahhhh... sweet self-satisfaction!

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Oh shit, I hope not!

Slut Shaming:

September Girls' biggest problem would have to be the amount of slut shaming and the overall deeming attitude toward women. (And if you are unfamiliar with what slut shaming is, here is a great article at The Book Lantern.) Jeff just looks at them as conquest, something to satisfy his pleasure. Sebastian can't be fucked to show any human decency. And Sam follows after the other two, except he takes it a step further when his brother starts hanging out more with a certain Girl named Kristle:
"He had clearly entangled himself in that dire pussy-web he'd warned me about on our first night here."

That's right, guys! Beware the female "pussy-web." It'll gettcha! What kills me about this is that it isn't assumed that his brother may like Kristle just because she's a person. Instead, they reason that if a guy falls for a girl it is strictly because of what she is offering sexually, therefore, objectifying her.
"And by the way, Kristle's a total slut, so I hope you haven't caught anything from her yet."

Tell us how you really feel, Sam.
"Okay, she's not a slut," I said testily. "Just a skank."

So glad we got that cleared up!

Not only do the men in this novel have a blatant disrespect for women and slut shame, but the Girls do as well. The one Girl who does this the most is one special ray of sunshine named DeeDee. Now, mostly DeeDee just talks a bunch of shit and makes about as much sense as a screen door on a submarine. She was also their resident Ho-olgist. She knew all about dem hos in the bible. Those are her favorite stories. Dem hos. See if you can keep up with the poetry she's spittin':
"I like the parts about hos, even if they always come to a bad end. Eat a fucking apple, you're a ho. Open a box, you're a ho. Some guy looks at you: turn to stone, ho. See you later, ho. It's always the same. The best one is Lilith--also a ho, but a different kind of ho. She went and got her own little thing going, and for that she gets to be an eternal demon queen, lucky her. No one likes a ho. Except when they do, which, obviously, is most of the time. Doesn't make a difference; she always gets hers eventually."

"Is that really in the Bible?"

"No. Some of it. Well, the ho with the apple at least."

"I never thought of her as a ho."

"Think again."

The ho... with the apple. I... HUH?

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 "God," DeeDee said, reaching for an ashtray and stubbing out her cigarette. I couldn't take my eyes off her. "Kristle can be so ridiculous. But who knows what I'd do without her. Total ho, by the way--not that I'm judging; I actually like hos myself. Maybe I am one--I barely know what counts anymore. Being blond certainly never helped anyone's case."

She's probably even got hos in different area codes. I wouldn't put it past her.

Poor Representation of Feminism:

And this is the part that really made me rage. So Sam's mom was a housewife from what I gather from the book. Now the thing is, when you are a parent or mate that stays home, it can be very easy to fall into the rut of *exclusively* taking care of everyone else and forgetting your needs too. Moreover, everyone else in the household might forget. That's why it's so important to find a hobby, get outside the house, do things for yourself for your own sanity and health. There is a scene where Sam and DeeDee are talking about housewives and how she feels being a housewife would be fun because they don't work and they are apparently "free." Sam has a monologue moment where he says "my mother spouted about something called the Feminine Mystique" and he considered it "pure shit."

Then he goes on to say this:
"If you were housewives you could just sit around all day with your feet in footbaths full of Epsom salts."

This is a common misconception of the role of a housewife and it's one of the most under-appreciated jobs a person can ever have. That passage is problematic and further perpetuates the stereotype of a housewife being lazy and doing nothing all day. I REALLY don't appreciate the attempted humor here when in the 1950s, suburban living had a very high rate of suicides among women. (Richard Yates highlighted this a bit in his novel Revolutionary Road. There was also a film adaptation where the DiCaprio/Winslet duo wrecked havoc on my feels yet again!) Managing the home and kids while being separated from society literally drove some women insane. Even in today's world, women who stay at home suffer more emotionally then their working counterparts.

Back in May of 2012, Gallup.com did a survey of over 60,000 US women between the ages of 18-64 and their results were depressing.
Stay-at-home moms also lag behind employed moms in terms of their daily positive emotions: They are less likely to say they smiled or laughed a lot, learned something interesting, and experienced enjoyment and happiness "yesterday." Additionally, they are less likely than employed moms to rate their lives highly enough to be considered "thriving." - Gallup.com

Mothers at home also can have feelings of worthlessness and lack of accomplishment. Many of what they do, volunteering in schools and taking care of the children, goes ignored in our society. I think it was in very poor taste for Madison to use this as joke fodder in his novel. Sam was only one step away from calling her a "bored housewife." At this point nothing should surprise you in this book when it is nothing BUT female stereotypes.

So his mom stayed home to take care of her family until one day she discovered FaceBook. First, she would post things on his FaceBook wall, but then she moved onto Farmville (which I hear is ridiculously addictive). He complains about her always being in the basement on the computer all day playing this game. And when she's not playing, she's always talking about it. But according to Sam, the real problem starts when she makes friends. Because his mother having a life is definitely a major problem! I guess he expected his mother to do his laundry and cook him dinner forever and ever!
"She got all interested in this weird crap that she wouldn't have been able to tell you about before. She's reading all this poetry; she has a Tumblr, although I avoided looking at it. She won't shut up about this thing called the SCUM Manifesto..."

Sounds to me like his mother developed a hobby and found a means to have other human interaction. And hey, that's a good thing!
In the Gallup study, stay-at-home moms found other ways to cope with depression by continuing education, blogging and joining the gym to have some social time with others. - CBS Atlantica

What I also dislike is the reason why she decided to leave her family. Madison had an opportunity to show feminism in a positive light, but he instead showed an extremist. Right after she reads SCUM Manifesto this happens:
"Then one day I'm getting ready for school and she knocks on my door with a bag packed and she tells me she's going to live at something called Women's Land, where no one ever has to talk to men."

Of course. Here is evil feminism breaking up a perfectly good family. I supposed this is just as good a time to reveal my master plan. Ladies, are you ready take over the world, moving all men underground only to be used for breeding, whist women rule the world? Muahahahahahaha!

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The next section spoils the ending, so click only if you are burning with curiosity or rage. Either will do.

I mean, goddamn! I really think this book hit on almost every way to demean a women. That is quite a feat considering I never thought I'd read a book that offended me more than Fifty Shades of Grey . Congrats, September Girls! You get the new title of Worst Book I've Ever Read right up there next to Revealing Eden .

If it isn't obvious, this book is terrible and I could never recommend it with a good conscious. But what do I know? Both Kirkus and Publisher's Weekly thought it was brilliant and gave it glowing reviews. Clearly, this is the sign of the end of the world because here's the truth: Reading September Girls was like being swept away by the ocean and drowni--


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ARC was received via publisher for an honest review. No monies or favors were exchanged, though, I guess that's pretty obvious.

More reviews and other fantastical things at Cuddlebuggery Book Blog.

Also, check out Debby's review from The Snuggly Orange for an even bigger aneurysm.
319 reviews1,885 followers
May 25, 2013

September Girls has inspired me...

...to create a 'no-stars-for-you' shelf, that is. With unbelievably awful writing, a main character who is as big of a dick as the one he feels the need to constantly remind us he has, and a plot with less aim than me that one time I decided to play a round of Call of Duty, September Girls is undoubtedly one of the worst books I have ever read in my life, and the fact that it is now a published novel is nothing short of a puzzle to me.

But hey, don't take my word for it (or Steph's, or Debby's, or Ashley's or Molli's, or practically everyone else's), because September Girls, in what feels like an entirely miraculous turn of events, has received glowing reviews from both Kirkus and Publishers Weekly.

I don't know why Kirkus and Publishers Weekly thought September Girls was brilliant and worthy of a glowing review. Quite frankly, I don't know how Kirkus and Publishers Weekly thought September Girls was brilliant and worthy of a glowing review. However, needless to say, my review will not be praising this book's brilliance (mostly because there is no said brilliance to find), nor will it be glowing. The vast majority of my review will be quotes, so that you can experience what it's like to read this book firsthand. There will likely be spoilers in the quotes I've gathered from September Girls posted ahead, but if you've read the aforementioned reviews above, are you really still considering reading this?

I didn't think so. So prepare yourself, because you are about to take a ride on all of the characters' disco sticks the September Girls Virtual Tour.

Good luck, and if you survive, there will be cookies by the exit.

(I cannot make any promises that the main character hasn't put anything in those cookies to make you pass out. But even if he did, god, don't be so rude! After all, he is a poor wittle virgin, you heartless monster.)

First part of the September Girls Virtual Tour: Meet the douchebags characters!

First up is Sam!
"Her eyes were burning: green with gold rings around the pupils. I tried to look away but I found that I could not. I instantly had a raging boner."

"He had clearly entangled himself in that dire pussy-web he'd warned me about on our first night here."

Eligible bachelor number one (for obviously no apparent reason whatsoever. I mean, have you read the above two quotes? He's clearly a charmer...)! He's a douchebag, he's sexist, he blames most things on feminism, he may or may not have an obsession with his penis, he refers to women plainly as 'hos,' 'sluts,' 'bitches,' et cetera, and he is not very attractive, appearance-wise or personality-wise. And get this, Mermaid Bitches--he's a virgin.

Shocker of the year! You'd think with accolades like that the hos and bitches will be lining up to steal his (later to be revealed) magical penis! I don't know about you, but I'm just in absolute shock.
"I wondered if the earth was flat--and if so, where did the water go when it tumbled off the edge? [...] I believe you can't be sure of anything until you've seen it with your own two eyes. And maybe it's just the limitations of photography, but I've seen those pictures of the earth from outer space and it looks flat as a quarter to me."

*gasp* HEY, BITCHES AND SLUTS! LOOK, BITCHES AND SLUTS! He's intelligent, too!
"This morning at the beach was different. I felt the muscles in my shoulder pumping with blood. I felt ocean in my eyelashes and a heaviness in my dick."



The next douchebag to meet is Sam's brother, whose name I forget, so he will be referred to for the rest of the review as That Other Sexist Douchebag!
"You wearing some kind of special cologne or something?" he asked. "You're working some crazy voodoo on those bitches."

"We're getting you laid tonight, bro." Jeff was saying. "I mean, we're getting both of us laid tonight. It's gonna change your life, dude. Dad was hell of right about this place. It's unbelievable, dude. Where the fuck did all these girls come from? I mean, dude. I mean, dude! That fuckin' Kristle, dude."

"I hope they're already drunk when we get to the party. I hope they are ready for a piece of this." He groped his crotch obnoxiously.

Now it's time to meet Sam's Mother!

I'm sorry, but it seems that Sam's mother is unable to reach us at the moment. Apparently she became a feminist and ran off to Women's Land, due to spending time on Facebook playing Farmville, creating a Tumblr, and reading the SCUM Manifesto.

DAMN YOU, FARMVILLE! Working on the farm clearly showed her that it's okay to get out of the kitchen and not cater to your douchebag children's every needs every minute of every hour of every fucking day.

The nerve on some people these days.

Next up to meet are The Mermaid Bitches. They have names, but you don't need to know them. It's not like they have a purpose in life other than to take away Sam's virginity. In fact, that may just be every single woman in the world's purpose--according to Sam and That Other Sexist Douchebag, that is.
"Did you meet Fiesta yet?" "Who's Fiesta?" "Just some ho."

She may just be some ho, but if her name's any indication, with her it must be a party.

[Love interest on 'hos in the bible'] "I like the parts about hos, even if they always come to a bad end. Eat a fucking apple, you're a ho. Open a box, you're a ho. Some guy looks at you: turn to stone, ho. See you later, ho. It's always the same. The best one is Lilith--also a ho, but a different kind of ho. She went and got her own little thing going, and for that she gets to be an eternal demon queen, lucky her. No one likes a ho. Except when they do, which, obviously, is most of the time. Doesn't make a difference; she always gets hers eventually."

Well isn't that... nice.. Thanks so much for sharing, DeeDee.
"Total ho, by the way--not that I'm judging; I actually like hos myself. Maybe I am one--I barely know what counts anymore. Being blond certainly never helped anyone's case."

Oh, you're not done? Oh... okay..

The next stop on the September Girls Virtual Tour is the plot--oooooh!

There is none--moving on.

Oh wait, no! *slaps head* That's right--September Girls is a beautiful novel depicting the plights of a young, asshole virgin trying to choose who to have sex with in a sea full of hos, bitches, and sluts, ultimately saving them from their awful lives with his magical penis.

My bad!

Lastly on the September Girls Virtual Tour is the moral of September Girls!

I've had this conversation with Steph as to what the moral of September Girls could possibly be, but I think there are many valuable things to learn from this novel.

1) Never be the first of your friends to read a book. Always wait until someone else has given their judgment. If not, you'll just be stuck reading this.

2) Don't be a ho, because they always meet their end.

3) Don't eat apples or open boxes. If you do, you're asking for it, you silly ho, you.

4) For the love of god, don't play Farmville.

5) Always be nice to virgins. No matter what, in the end, they won't be the ones to fuck you over.

Pun absolutely intended.

Profile Image for Emily May.
1,963 reviews294k followers
March 20, 2016

Cast your pitchforks aside, I'm going to try and explain. Explain why this book which is lauded by critics but generally hated by goodreads (and many of my friends on the site), criticised as being misogynistic and disgusting and appalling and many other colourfully negative words... was a completely different experience for me. I'm sick of hearing the word but, in the end, it all comes down to interpretation. And I think this book more than most I've read depends on that interpretation. I'm not here to say anyone's wrong, some of my closest GR friends despised this book (you know I love you, Blythe) and hell, I'm the queen of seeing a book in strange ways (remember that awkward time I thought Lolita was a love story) but, for me, this book wasn't sexist at all. For me, it was the very opposite.

For one thing, I don't believe that showing something in a book or showing characters behaving in a certain way makes the book a positive message for such behaviour. I was one of the few who disagreed about League of Strays being homophobic just because some of the characters happened to be. There are people who are homophobic or racist or sexist and I think a book can show that without being a representation of the author's views. I certainly don't think Margaret Atwood believed that women should be treated the way they were in The Handmaid's Tale - in fact, that was the point, right? She was showing the consequences of radical Christianity and feminism in order to criticise it. Characters are not always their authors. Unless, of course, you're reading a John Green book.

Mr Madison seems to be of the exact same opinion as me in this case. His previous book - The Blonde of the Joke - was criticised for having homophobic characters and the author replied:

A writer’s job isn’t to create saintly characters as models of good behavior for readers. Characters without flaws– even, at times, ugly and discomfiting flaws– are bad characters, and bad characters make bad literature. In order to be interesting, characters must sometimes behave in ways we don’t approve of. (The ill-tempered murderer Raskolnikov, racist-mouthed Huck Finn and pill-addled/ego-crazed Neely O’Hara all spring instantly to mind.)

To which I find myself nodding my head. If you're curious about his full response, click the spoiler.

Anyway, back to this book. I truly find myself seeing it as the very opposite of sexist/misogynistic. What I saw here was actually a challenge to the way society and other people teach boys to become men, the expectations they place upon them and the misogyny that is openly encouraged. I saw it as a challenge to social constructs of gender, masculinity and femininity. What does it mean to be a man and why? Can a woman be free and independent as well as being a wife and mother? Whilst reading this book, a Gloria Steinem quote came to mind:

“We've begun to raise daughters more like sons... but few have the courage to raise our sons more like our daughters.”

It's this whole idea we have that traditional masculinity is superior and it's far easier to be a woman with masculine traits than it is to be a man with feminine traits. We've begun to accept the "manning up" of modern women, the rise of female ambition and their slow climb to higher paid jobs. It's not ridiculous for women to want a career anymore because that's a masculine - and therefore a positive - pursuit. But the way we treat men who act in a traditionally feminine way might be the biggest hindrance to equality. And Sam (this book's protagonist) is struggling with the expectations placed upon him to "be a man".

I, for one, thought Sam's character development was excellent. He starts off as someone who separates women into categories (e.g. sluts) because of the influence of the society he lives in and his brother, but over time he learns to accept DeeDee simply as herself and not as part of something a patriarchal society has defined, seeing women as individuals on a level that goes beyond physical appearance: "Starting to understand her was less like learning and more like forgetting the DeeDee I'd created in my mind. Now, outside Ursula's, in the grass by the highway, she was just DeeDee. She was only herself." Linking in to what I said about questioning the concept of masculinity, Sam experiences things that are not deemed typically masculine. When DeeDee comes onto him, he admits to being afraid and feeling less of a man for it. The idea of virginal women being scared and anxious is explored in many novels but it is taken for granted that men have no such qualms, that they are only interested in doing the deed. This book allows Sam to be more than a man, it allows him to be human.

I also, unlike many many others, absolutely loved Sam's mother and what her character seemed to be saying about women. Sam tells us how she became obsessed with Facebook and found a group of radical women online who live by the SCUM manifesto. I can see why this could be viewed as a brushing aside of feminism and placing it all under the SCUM umbrella, but that's not what I took from it. I saw it as the author looking at the other side too, the expectations placed on women and the way they are torn over who to be. It's about a woman struggling with what it means to be a woman today, wanting to be a good wife and mother but at the same time confused by radical feminist ideals that tell her she is being exploited in that position.

This is a paranormal book, but that just forms the background of a story which (I feel, anyway) is full of depth and complexity. In my opinion, this is one sophisticated piece of young adult fiction that is guaranteed to continue angering people. It does have very coarse language that may be off-putting for some, as well as graphic sexual content (or talk of it). But this doesn't really bother me.

I've often wondered whether "feminism" is the right word. My definition of it is about equality and freedom and choice; but the very word itself doesn't say equality, it suggests we're excluding half the population. For some, it even says "men are the enemy". But, really, feminism is about both men and women. Patriarchy and sexism place restrictions and expectations on both sexes that are equally damaging. The concepts of masculinity and femininity create misogyny and I believe this book is primarily about the messages delivered to young men and how these men can easily become casually misogynistic through the masculine expectations of them. Evidence of it is everywhere. Groups of teenage boys trying to prove they're each more virile than the next by whistling and catcalling at girls. It's an attitude which is thrust upon them. But this book is also about how they can be more than that.

I've pretty much exhausted myself and I hope I don't get too hated for this review. I feel like finishing with this quote:

"Fuck it," I said. At a certain point, it's just time to be a man. Actually, no. Fuck that too. Being a man is bullshit; maybe trying to 'be a man' had been the problem all along. At a certain point you just have to trust someone. Even if it's only yourself.
Profile Image for Debby.
583 reviews540 followers
April 16, 2021

No. No no no no no. No no. No. This book is one of the worst I have ever read. Hell, it may well be the worst. Save yourself the inevitable frustration and disappointment of reading this book. Please. Do yourself a favor. Let me tell you why. Cue my longest review ever.

After only 15%, my gut told me to throw my e-reader across the room and give up. But I am not one to easily DNF books, and I really felt I should review this one. So I kept on going. But this isn't going to be pretty guys. I'll throw in some gifs though. To pretty it up. And because they so adequately can depict my rage. Let me start off with this: Sam is the most annoying, douchebag main character I have ever read. Here are some quotes for you, introducing himself right at the beginning of the book.

"Man, I just want to go to bed," I said. I was exhausted. I wanted to jerk off and fall asleep.

First thing to know about Sam: he's blunt and vulgar.

I consider myself a sociable person, but sometimes I feel best being sociable with myself. I guess that's why I enjoy masturbation.

Why? Seriously. Why?

This morning at the beach was different. I felt the muscles in my shoulders pumping with blood. I felt ocean in my eyelashes and a heaviness in my dick. I felt strong and solid, more myself--the best version of myself, I mean--than I had in a while.

Okay, aside from once again mentioning his dick, "I felt ocean in my eyelashes"?? What the hell kind of writing is this?

And although Sasha had remained obviously into me in the weeks following the party--texting me nonstop and leaving long and pointless handwritten notes in my locker--I'd quickly decided that she was annoying and not even all that hot.

No. Just no. Adding sexist to the list of personality traits.

I wondered if the earth was flat-and if so, where did the water go when it tumbled off the edge?

I mean, I'm not an idiot. I'm ninety-nine percent convinced that the world is not flat. But I believe you can't be sure of anything until you've seen it with your own two eyes. And maybe it's just the limitations of photography, but I've seen those pictures of earth from outer space and it looks flat as a quarter to me.

I think the author intended to show off Sam's thoughtfulness here, but... JESUS. NO. UGH. Think again, Sam. You definitely are an idiot.

Sam also frequently cites the "wisdom" of his best friend, Sebastian. And that yields us such beautiful passages as...

Sebastian always advised me to ask questions when in doubt. "Girls like to talk about themselves. If you can't think of anything to say, just ask some dumb question about nothing, and if you're lucky she'll go off and you won't have to say anything else for another ten minutes and she'll think you're a great listener.

I actually thought about calling Sebastian for advice, but I could practically hear his voice: Wait, this is all over some girl? Don't be such a fucking vagina, dude! I mean, dude! You go to the beach for a month and you turn into a human tampon!

And yet, even worse than Sam, there's his brother, Jeff, aka the most sexist pig ever born.

"You sleep with some girl once, and before you know it you're like trapped in her crazy pussy-web," he said, nodding sagely to himself.

"You wearing some kind of special cologne or something?" he asked. "You're working some crazy voodoo on those bitches."

Now all of the above are completely infuriating. Every male character is portrayed to be such a huge douche (except Sam and Jeff's father, who is a total pansy). And I don't know about you guys, but the majority of the YA reader base being female, this is all pretty freaking (1) disgusting, (2) insulting, and (3) disheartening! I'm single, and thinking that every guy is like this is totally depressing. It just makes me think...

But the sexism doesn't end there. The main love interest, DeeDee, also has some choice words to add.

"I've never read the Bible," I said. "I didn't know anyone actually read it."

"Well I did," she said. "Three times. It seems like it's going to be a real drag, and some parts really suck, but it actually has some good sections. I like the parts about hos, even if they always come to a bad end. Eat a fucking apple, you're a ho. Open a box, you're a ho. Some guy looks at you: turn to stone, ho. See you later, ho. It's always the same. The best one is Lilith-also a ho, but a different kind of ho. She went and got her own little thing going, and for that she gets to be an eternal demon queen, lucky her. No one likes a ho. Except when they do, which, obviously, is most of the time. Doesn't make a difference; she always gets hers eventually."

You... wait.. what?

The women think we're tacky, but we're not interested in the opinions of women anymore. We learned long ago how unimportant the opinions of women are.

Kristle tried to do it with me." I said. DeeDee didn't flinch. "I know," she said. "She told me. Typical ho.

This is the weird thing about September Girls - it's so blatantly sexist, disgusting, and infuriating, at a certain point I was wondering if I was reading it wrong. And if it wasn't just totally meant to be a comedy. A disgusting comedy, but still. I mean. Why on earth would a publisher publish this??? (I still love you, HarperCollins, but...)

I could go on with the quotes, but I think you get the point. I did read the whole book, and I have some choice words to say about the rest as well.

The characters are ridiculous. I think from the quotes you've probably already understood that they're all sexist assholes, and obviously that kept me from connecting at all or caring about them at all. However, something weird happened too. We have these sexist idiots, Sam and Jeff, and at a certain point they both have love interests (I know, I know, HOWWW??!??!?!) and they do some kind of 180. Jeff, who admittedly made some of the worst comments, gets all defensive when Sam questions his relationship with Kristle. Sam is suddenly totally love sick after he meets DeeDee. ...It doesn't work this way guys. CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT. GET SOME. PREFERABLY BELIEVABLE.

Sam's parents are some of the stupidest I have ever heard of. So Sam's mother leaves the family - just one day ups and leaves. Sam then so very eloquently blames this on... feminism. Yes, through Facebook and Farmville, his mother discovered the internet, and then came in contact with a whole crowd of people there who apparently inspired her to ditch her family. What? When does this ever happen? And then she comes back. During Sam's vacation. And his father has been pining and moaning since she left, a truly pathetic human being, to be quite honest. So she comes back, and he doesn't blame her for anything, just welcomes her back, pretty much. I'm sure there's a deeper story there but the author just decides to pretty much glaze over that to talk more about Sam's melodramatic love life.

The plot is stupid. Wait, I should rephrase that. Plot, WHAT plot? Seriously, at around 50% I didn't know what I was reading anymore. The whole first half was basically: there are these mysterious girls. Something's up with them. Oh and Sam is completely love sick for DeeDee. And Kristle keeps flirting with him. It's just plain boring. After that, it still takes a while before anything really happens. But I pushed on. You guys don't care about spoilers, right? Eh, SPOILER ALERT. So it turns out that the oh-so-mysterious Girls are mermaids... kind of? (the world building is shit), and they have a CURSE. They can't leave the beach unless they... have sex with a virgin male.

Whyyyy? Seriously, you couldn't think of anything better? At that point, it hit me: this is a teenage boy's wet dream. It's got to be. But yeah, that explains why all these ever so slightly weird but totally hot Girls are after Sam, who has shown no personality besides a slight propensity for sexism. You know how attractive that is. But yeah, they're only after sex, so...

One of my favorite (sarcasm) scenes was when a hurricane came to the beach! Not only did Sam's family very stupidly decide to stay (seriously, living in Northwest Houston was terrifying enough when hurricanes struck - being right on the shore? umm) but this very interesting passage happens. (Just one more quote, I swear!)

"So why are we staying?" I looked from Dad to Mom. "If we're supposed to leave?" Everyone just sort of shrugged. "Are we all going to die?" I asked.

"Pfft," my mom whistled, waving me off. "People make such a big deal about death. It's just a passage."

Seriously, his parents are so stupid. After that, you know what happens? It's a couple hours before the hurricane is due to hit, and Sam's dad hands him his metal detector and tells him to go off and hunt for treasure on the beach. Right now. And Sam goes.

WHO DOES THIS??? Well, he goes off on his merry way, hunting for treasure, eventually finds something, starts digging, digging, digging, and then notices the hole he's standing in is filling with water and the winds are actually too fierce for him to swim back to the shore. *heavy sigh* Luckilyyyy his Girls are there to save him.

Moving on, the writing is pretentious. So this book doesn't even have that to save it. The writing alternates between Sam's point of view and passages from the Girls. These short Girls chapters are the most cryptic and pretentious passages. I suppose that was intended to heighten the mystery about their identities and whatever, but most of them ended with me scratching my head thinking, "What the hell did I just read?" But that feeling wasn't only limited to those passages, and sometimes Sam had a propensity for those kinds of tangents as well. And of course, you've seen some samples of the writing already, with beautiful descriptors like, "I felt ocean in my eyelashes."

The world building was just awful. There's so much potential in mermaids. I wished for so much better. But no. We get pretty much one cryptic infodump that is equal parts confusing and forgettable - I suppose because creative world building was not a goal of this novel. Here, let's see what you make of this: the Girls are mermaids. Their mother is the Deepness. Their father is the Endlessness. They have two brothers: Speed and Calm. They for some reason only really "live" in the summer and are rather dormant the other months. They get sent to the beach when they're 16 and have no real memories of where they came from or what their name was, except the knowledge that they're cursed, in fact, by their father. There's a lot of other little disjointed details, but it's like none of it really builds on each other and none of it is thoroughly developed. I mean, did it make sense to you, Sherlock?

Also, I feel like I have to mention that the Girls have the most ridiculous names ever. So when they wash up on the shore, they don't have a name, so they watch TV and stuff and then pick names. But I don't get why that yields them the stupidest names in history (especially when they have their sisters there who have been living there for a while and would probably know what is normal by now). Here are some of these brilliant names: Kristle, L'Oréal, Olay, Taffany, Fiesta, Jenuvia, the list goes on. I couldn't help but giggle every time I saw Kristle or Taffany written on the page. I mean, seriously. Even if they didn't know any better after just crawling out of the ocean, they could catch on later and switch to more normal names right? Names aren't exactly set in stone...

Okay, this is going on for far too long.

Summing Up:

There is nothing redeemable about this book. Reading it can best just be summed up with this one final gif.

Someone hand me the brain bleach.

Recommended To:

I wouldn't subject anyone to this.

*ARC provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the contents of the review.
589 reviews1,031 followers
June 2, 2013
See more reviews at YA Midnight Reads

This review and book has inappropriate language for young readers. I am in no way intending to discriminate the author.

0.01 star DNF at 34%

Thank you HarperTeen for sending me this copy. No compensation was given or taken to alter this review.

'"Dude," he said. "This summer we're gonna get you laid, bro. It'll do you some good."
"I don't see what we has to do with it," I said. "Isn't getting laid like something you generally do on your own.?"

Let's take a moment to think about what the YA genre means. YA, quite ironically (not really) stands for Young Adult- meaning books aimed for young adults, or teens. 13-19 or even older. I am a 13 year old girl. And have now been exposed to the most revolting, inappropriate and crude language ever in my life. It's no secret that I've heard lewd and rude language before, but for a YA book, this is honestly stretching the line between erotic fiction and YA fiction. In fact, I was thinking, "Is this what they call reading porn?" That book quote up there does not even begin touch the level of poop I had to go through.

Yeah, I was warned. By Steph, and the 'NO STAR REVIEWS', but curiosity killed the cat. Well, in this case, the curiosity killed my sanity. And blame me for requesting an ARC, blame the cover, blame the synopsis, blame that I was born in September and the genre filing on Goodreads, for all I care. But I read it and it was like.... bad...

*clears throat*

September Girls has inspired me to swear. Therefore, I shall utilise where necessary. This fucking book was the shittiest crap I have ever come across. (Pardon my French) Forget Twilight. At least there were Twihards, but on my watch, I don't seem many Septemberhards. *squints eyes*

Yep. Not many.

I refuse to let anyone within my reach or power to read this book. So before you go off being curious like me and wanting to know how bad it could possibly be, here, I have some quotes that may burn your eyes, so I recommend you to grab some high quality sunglasses before continuing.

Exhibit A: The MC's brother is a sarcastic slut shaming addict.

'"You sleep with a girl once, and before you know it you're like trapped in her crazy pussy-web."'

Exhibit B: The MC does interesting things when he's alone...

'It felt good to be alone, especially after the previous day's cramped and endless journey. I consider myself a sociable person, but sometimes I feel best being sociable with myself. I guess that's why I enjoy masturbation.'

I had no idea what masturbation was until a few days ago, thanks September Girls! You taught me a lot!

Exhibit C: The MC is very observant.

'The girl was blond and tan like all the other girls around here and was wearing a skimpy red bikini wedged up the crack of her ass.'

'Something seemed to be bothering him. I figured it had to be the lack of sex, which he'd [the brother] previously made a point of indicating he was used to on a very daily basis.'

There are two more points I have to point out in the above quote, the brother is a whore, sarcastic, jealous, slut shaming addict and the grammar is incorrect. It's not meant to be on a VERY daily basis. You can't have _ on a VERY daily basis, you can only have _ on a daily basis for it to make logical sense. The VERY is inessential and not needed.

Exhibit D: The MC is a perv.

'I was close enough to see their wet, pink tongues moving in and out of their mouths.

Look, I get you are observant but you seriously don't need to be staring at others' make out sessions, it is something you generally don't do. Also, a little too much detail? I really thought I was reading erotica here.

Exhibit E: The MC is ignorant.

'Maybe this all seems like a digression or even a case of protesting too much, but the point is that I have touched a breast and I liked it.'

Does it look like I care about what you feel about breasts? Get to the point of the STORY already, not your obsession with girl fantasies.

'He [brother] was trying to keep himself in fighting form, maybe attract a few glances of his own. It was no use. The girls wanted me.

Gee, aren't you confident there? So where in the synopsis did this mention it was a combat between two brothers about getting the girls glancing at them? I'd love to know.

Exhibit F: Disgrace to religious.

'"I've actually never read the Bible," I said. "I didn't know anyone actually read it."
"Well I did, she [DeeDee] said. "Three times. It seems like it's going to be real drag, and some parts suck, but it actually has some good sections. I like the parts about hos, even if they always come to a bad end. Eat a fucking apple, you're a ho. etc... etc..."'

I'm not religious but for people who are, like my friend who read this small passage, will be extremely horrified and disgusted. I don't see the point of this scene about the Bible. Even if it's dialogue, I believe it has been over done.

Exhibit G: The MC has uncontrollable hormones.

'Her eyes were burning: green with good rings around pupils. I tried to look away but I found out I could not. I instantly had a raging boner.'

'Then I felt that tinge in my groin again: Kristle had turned to face me. We were alone again.'

I guess those quotes are self-explanatory. Ridiculous.

When I stopped at 34%, I had not reached the plot. There were only descriptions of girls and beaches and drunks and jealousy. Your typical trite book times 1000 worse. Ignore this book and you will not loose your sanity.
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669 reviews1,985 followers
June 20, 2013

September Girls by Bennett Madison: NOT A SEXIST BOOK. Original review posted on The Book Smugglers

September Girls flew completely under my radar – not much of a mermaid fan here – until the reviews started rolling. And that was when I became REALLY interested in the book because the reactions to the book are so divisive. I first heard the negative: from fellow bloggers at Cuddlebuggery who thought the book was terribly sexist and anti-feminist and then lots of others Goodreaders followed suit with the same reaction. Then I noticed it got starred reviews from Publishers Weekly and Kirkus. It got blurbs from E. Lockhart, Sara Zarr and Nova Ren Suma – all writers who write awesome books with awesome girls in them. Heck, E.Lockhart’s The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks is the apex of feminist YA. Forever YA loved it and Kelly Jensen from Stacked called it a feminist read.

Needless to say, I had to see for myself.

And I am SO glad I did. My own take? I love it. I agree with those who say this is a feminist book. I think September Girls is not only NOT sexist, but also quite the opposite: I think it challenges sexism directly in a myriad of ways but also does so metaphorically. It questions patriarchy, the idea of “manhood” very explicitly and it does so in a beautifully written, languid, thought-provoking story. It’s absolutely one of my favourite reads this year.

Allow me to expound on why. Please note: I am hoping it is clear that I am not attacking different readings of September Girls but I feel I need to interact directly with some of the sexism claims because to me it is important to offer a different take. So here is my deconstruction of the novel and most importantly, of the claims of sexism levelled at it.


The story is mostly narrated by Sam, a young 17-year-old boy who is spending his summer with his father and brother Jeff at a remote beach house in a sleepy location full of strange, beautiful Girls. Sam addresses them with the capital G because they are so other: all equally blond, all equally weird, all beautiful, extremely sexy and – unexpectedly – coming on to him. When he meets DeeDee, one of the Girls, they start to fall for each other. Then he learns what the Girls really are.

September Girls is a dark, twisted, fucked-up fairytale in which mermaids (or beings that are very similar to mermaids) have been cursed by their Father . Sam shares the narrative with one of the Girls who is telling him – us – everything about them in this eerie, amazing tale. It’s almost like a siren song.

We are told that: their father curses them because he hated their Mother, who is called a Whore:

“We have been told that she was a whore, although we can’t remember who told us that, and we often find ourselves arguing over the true definition of whore.”

We are told that: the curse entails being sent away from home abruptly and with very vague memories of why and how. They show up at the shore one day, naked and barely formed. They can’t swim. Their feet hurt with every step. They don’t know how to speak, what to think and they don’t even remember their names:

“We come here without names. There are the names they call us. But those aren’t our names.
The names they call us are not hard to guess. Comehere, Wheresmyfood, Trysmilingsometime, and Suckonthis are four common ones, but the list goes predictably on from there and only gets uglier.
Those are the names they call us. Those are not our names. We choose our own names.”

We are told that: they have no identity or memory but they know that to break the curse they need to find a good, virgin boy to have sex with and so they must forge their identify in the way that will work best for them in attracting those boys. They forge it by the most immediate things they see in front of them: fashion magazines and TV shows and thus they realise that becoming sexy, blond girls will give them the best chance to break the curse:

“We crawl onto land naked. We learn which clothes to wear. We learn how to do our makeup, how to style our hair. How to toss it with sexiness that appears unconsidered. The women think we’re tacky, but we’re not interested in the opinions of women anymore. We learned long ago how unimportant the opinions of women are. We are here because our mother could not protect us. We are here because our father had an ‘opinion’ “.

We are told that: when they finally find a Virgin boy, their curse does not allow them to act – they must always wait for the guy to notice them. Only when the curse is broken can they return to their elusive home. They are all sisters but sisterhood is dangerous.

And it’s all horrible and unfair and just like Sam says at one point: these Girls’ parents are real fucking assholes.

A possible reading is to take those quotes and the curse itself at face value – they do sound incredibly misogynistic. That’s because they are. That is in fact, the point. If that curse and those quotes I chose are not a brilliant, REALLY OBVIOUS metaphor for how girls experience sexism in our society as well as an example of the weight of unfair expectations bearing on them, I don’t know anything anymore.

In a way I think the best criticism that could be levelled at the book is that at the end of the day, this could still be construed as a book that shows female suffering as a means to talk about feminism. And given that the way to break a curse is to have sex with a virgin boy, this could still be construed as a book that puts a lot of power on the hands of the male. That said, with regards to the former, ours is a world in which women do experience sexism every single day and even though I love to see diverse stories where those are not perpetuated, I also want to see stories that do acknowledge that, that do acknowledge the wtfuckery of fairytales and of ridiculous curses and above all, I want to read stories like this one which does exactly that in the way that it so cleverly addresses sexism and patriarchy.

My reading is that this curse is a mirror. It is a mirror reflecting our world – but in many ways it is also a broken mirror because the questioning is always there. It’s in the way that the Girls DO form friendships with each other. In the way that the Girls DO try to break the curse in a myriad of ways by attempting to leave the beach and the town: Girls have almost died trying. There are those who challenge the rules and those who simply accept their deaths without breaking the curse. And it’s not even a heteronormative story either: girls have fallen in love with other girls as well. This book would be a bad, sexist idea if the sexism wasn’t challenged at every step of the way, if their Father wasn’t presented as a raging misogynist who is worthy of contempt.

Reading is such an awesome thing and as I said, my aim is not to discredit other people’s readings of the book. I truly find fascinating the ways that readers have interacted with September Girls. There is for example, a passage that has been quoted in several reviews and used to support the claims of misogyny and sexism and slut shaming. I wanted to quote it here to as support exactly the opposite. In it DeeDee and Sam are chatting after her reading of the Bible:

“I like the parts about hos, even if they always come to a bad end. Eat a fucking apple, you’re a ho. Open a box, you’re a ho. Some guy looks at you: turn to stone, ho. See you later, ho. It’s always the same. The best one is Lilith–also a ho, but a different kind of ho. She went and got her own little thing going, and for that she gets to be an eternal demon queen, lucky her. No one likes a ho. Except when they do, which, obviously, is most of the time. Doesn’t make a difference; she always gets hers eventually.”

To me this passage is incredibly subversive and sarcastic. It shows that DeeDee is fully aware. To support my claim of awareness, she even says a bit later on: “I actually like hos myself. Maybe I am one – I barely know what counts anymore”. She has read feminist tracts and understands how society works: “I love how when boys have a completely unacceptable habit like peeing in the sink, science actually goes to all the trouble to come up with a justification for it.” Or when Sam “congratulates” her for having opinions, she says: “Oh, thank you, I’m so glad you approve of me having a thought in my brain.”

So to me? DeeDee = fucking awesome.

BUT even if taken at face value, even if we want to believe that DeeDee IS slut shaming in the Bible quote, it would also be ok in the context of this novel. Because there are Girls who do not question. There are Girls who simply go about doing what they are supposed to do. And that is also a significant way to portray internalized, unquestioned sexism – we are all part of this world after all and are all subject to sexist messages all the time. This is all the more clear in the book with regards to the Girls.

So I have written all of that and so far haven’t even touched on the subject of Sam and his dick or Sam and his raging sexism and how those connect to some of the criticism I have seen with regards to the book: the language used, the continuous swearing as well as references to sex and to private parts. To wit: I understand that each reader has different thresholds for what they like to read and how much cursing they can take and September Girls can be seen as extremely crass in parts.

But to me, it was not really crass as much as it is straightforward and bullshit-less. To me, Sam has a healthy relationship with his dick – he calls it a dick, he likes to masturbate and gets boners. There is this one time, he thinks to himself that all he wanted to do was to go home, relax and masturbate and go to sleep and – this is probably Too Much Information but at this point, I don’t really care anymore – I TOTALLY GET THIS, BRO.

There is also this one scene in particular that a lot of readers see problems with in which he is staring at this beautiful beach, he is feeling the sun on his back, it’s the first day of his summer holidays and he says something like “I felt a heaviness in my dick”. I totally get how sensual moments like these are, you know? But also, this is not all that moment entails: the heaviness in his dick is because:

“I felt strong and solid, more myself – the best version of myself, I mean – than I had in a while.”

The contextual meanings of all of this is that Sam is learning who he is, he is searching for an identity and to an understanding of what it means to be a “man”. This is a recurrent theme in the novel. This is the main point of the novel. As early as page ONE Sam talks about his father and brother thusly:

“The most obnoxious thing about them was their tendency to land on the topic of my supposedly impeding manhood: that it was time to be a man, or man up, or act like a man, et cetera, et cetera. The whole subject was creepy – which vague implications of unmentionable things involving body hair – but the most embarrassing part was basically just how meaningless it all was. As if one day you’re just a normal person, and then the next – ta-da! – a man, as if someone would even notice the difference.”

So for the entire book Sam is struggling with the idea of “manhood”. He is directly and explicitly struggling to understand what is it that makes a boy a man. His brother Jeff and his best friend Sebastian constantly sprout deeply offensive and sexist language when talking about girls. They use gendered insults all the time: “don’t be a pussy Sam”. And Sam – even though he feels uncomfortable hearing those messages – to start with, also uses that language, also refers to girls in a demeaning way. But the more his arc progresses, the more he changes.

He is not completely clueless because the questioning is there from the start as evidenced by the quote above but he is not quite there yet so throughout the book he says horrible things, he thinks sexist thoughts. And this just brings me back to how the narrative does not condone this, because it constantly puts Sam’s – and Jeff’s – ideas in check. And I like how the narrative does allow for sympathy for Sam (as well as for douchebag Jeff) as another boy struggling to break free of internalized sexism. But the point is: he grows out of it. He grows out of it beautifully by learning to respect and love the women in his life. And we are not talking about simply romantic love either although there is some of it. He learns to understand and sympathise with his mother, he forges friendships with other Girls and he falls in love with DeeDee. And love is a HUGE catalyst for change in this book but I really appreciated the way that love is not the end-all/be-all that will solve everybody’s problems. Quite the opposite in fact.

Speaking of Sam’s mom: this is another brilliant aspect of the book for me. Her arc to me, reads as an incredibly feminist arc. To begin with, Sam is the one to describe what happened to his mother and he does so by being completely oblivious: he talks about how his mom one day started going online, becoming addicted to Facebook, then reading the SCUM Manifesto and deciding to take off to Women’s Land to find herself. HE doesn’t understand anything about it. HE thinks his mom is crazy and has destroyed his family. THEN his mother comes back and that’s when his understanding of her takes place and it is beautiful: then we learn that his mother was struggling to understand her own life choices:

“I thought of what my father had said: about the choices she had made and the ones she was still making. She had decided to take action. Even if it had been pointless, even if it had been the wrong thing, even if it had just only led her back to us eventually, it was still action and that counted for something.”

And here is the gist of this book: it’s about choices and identity in a world that often tries to take those away from both women and men. I loved DeeDee and Sam because both are trying so hard to understand themselves and the world they live in. September Girls offers a deeper understanding of love, identity and a constant, non-stop challenge of ideas regarding “masculinity” and “femininity”.

The ending of September Girls is fucking brilliant. It’s bittersweet and fantastic as it brings the curse to its head with a twist about choices and moving on and love. The curse does not work in the way one expects it to work and the ending is so satisfying in the way that it doesn’t play into romantic expectations: love does not save anyone. This is a fairytale but not of the Disney variety (if there was any doubt). The plot itself is a languid, slow-moving summer-like story and I loved it. And now I also want to read everything Bennett Madison has ever written.

It’s a 9 from me and it will definitely be on my top 10 books of 2013.

Profile Image for Ashley.
667 reviews716 followers
April 17, 2013
Nose Graze — Young Adult book reviews

1.5 stars

In a summary, September Girls is:

Awkwardly inappropriate to the point where it's almost funny.
Completely spark-less.
Loaded with internal "contemplating the universe" kinds of thoughts.
Attempting to be "mysterious" but the "mystery" drags on for the whole book in such a way that nothing actually happens because we're waiting for the mystery to unfold.
Supposedly a "romance" story, but there was no chemistry, no spark, no love—nada. It was an awkward insta-love at best.

Despite hearing some scary things about this book, I tried to go into it hopeful. I actually didn't hate it right away. Then the awkward sexual sentences started rolling in randomly... but I still didn't hate it. They were so random, so out of place, and so ridiculous that I just laughed at them. I actually got pleasure out of it. But is it really a good thing to enjoy laughing at the ridiculousness of a book? I wouldn't exactly call that an accomplishment. I wasn't laughing because they were genuinely funny; I was laughing because it was all so absurd.

Things started off mildly funny. Example:

"Dude," he said. "This summer we're gonna get you laid, bro. It'll do you some good."
"I don't see what we has to do with it," I said. "Isn't getting laid like something you generally do on your own?"
"There's your first mistake," Jeff said. "You don't even have the basic mechanics right."
—September Girls by Bennet Madison

That's one line that actually made me laugh (genuinely). I was enjoying the funny little banter. But then sexual comments started being inserted so randomly into Sam's train of thought:

I had decided to take a walk, and now I was alone at the edge of the water as it came and went. The sun was hot and high in the sky and it felt good.
It felt good to be alone, especially after the previous day's cramped and endless journey. I consider myself a sociable person, but sometimes I feel best being sociable with myself. I guess that's why I enjoy masturbation.
—September Girls by Bennet Madison

WHY? Just why? Sam is thinking about the beach, the weather, the sun, the sky, the car journey, enjoying being alone, the MASTURBATION . Obviously that's a natural transition. Beach + Sky - Suburbs + Car Journey + Alone = Masturbation. Those totally random sexual thoughts were embedded in totally unrelated sentences. Sam would think about one thing then suddenly find a way to throw masturbation or fucking or his dick into it. It was so random that it actually shocked me.

This morning at the beach was different. I felt the muscles in my shoulders pumping with blood. I felt ocean in my eyelashes and a heaviness in my dick.
—September Girls by Bennet Madison

Oh, Sam, what a heavy dick you have!

And we soon learn that Sam cannot control his erections.

Her eyes were burning: green with gold rings around the pupils. I tried to look away but I found that I could not. I instantly had a raging boner.
—September Girls by Bennet Madison

To give you some context there, Sam is just chatting to a girl outside, talking about her birthday, then he looks into her eyes and gets a raging boner. For me, it came out of nowhere and I actually reread it to make sure my dirty mind wasn't putting boners where they didn't exist.

But my favourite scene was this one:

Kristle was in my room and she was naked. I thought I was dreaming at first, but I rubbed my eyes and sat up in bed, she was standing motionless, arms at her sides, her body hard and glowing like a statue made of moon rock.
And she crawled into bed on top of me, her nipples scraping my bare chest..
—September Girls by Bennet Madison

To start with, this sentence had me CRACKING UP. I immediately had to share it with my boyfriend and it became our running joke for the night. First, I did the logical thing and Googled Moon Rock so I could get a sense of what I was working with here:

Moon Rock

Washington University in St. Louis

Basically, what Sam is saying is that this naked woman is hard, darkish grey, and full of little holes. Attractive. But let's not forget her super sharp nipples, scraping against his chest. I spent the entire rest of the night receiving sweet comments from my boyfriend about my moon rock-like appearance and sharp nipples. What a sweetheart he is.

Okay, enough talk about the quotes. I'm actually disappointed that they fizzled out after the 50% mark. They were fun to laugh at.

But my main problem with this book is that nothing happens. We get caught up in this big "mystery" of who the girls really are, but we never actually learn who—or what—they are. The book is basically:

Go to the beach.
Meet girls.
Girls are mysterious.
Walk along the beach.
Go to a party.
Get seduced.
Girls smoke.
Go for a swim.
Eat cereal.
Girls smoke.
Sit in a pirate's ship.
Walk along the beach.

...you get the point. We learn nothing. And even when we get to the end of the book, I still have zero sense of who these girls are. I thought this was supposed to be a mermaid book, but I can't even say with certainty whether the girls actually are mermaids or not. I legitimately have no idea.

And then there's the romance... The romance had zero substance, zero spark, and zero chemistry. It was definitely a case of insta-love.. but it wasn't even really insta-love because there was no passion in the relationship. Sam became a little obsessed with DeeDee, but I never even got the impression that DeeDee gave a shit about Sam. So is that even insta-love? Maybe one-sided insta-love.

Ultimately this book just left me confused, disappointed, and unsatisfied. I hate how there are all these references to legends, myths, mythology, and the Bible, but I still have zero sense of the overall story. Who are those girls? I don't know. They talk about their mom, their dad, and their brothers, but who the hell are they? After reading the book (and not even really skimming it—properly reading it) I still don't know.
Profile Image for Nasty Lady MJ.
1,059 reviews16 followers
August 13, 2013
To see full review click here.

I've mentioned it before, but I hated high school. For many reasons. Probably my worst memory in high school involved being sexually harassed by a group of dipshits who only thought with their dick and didn't know the meaning of fuck off. This book reminds me of those guys. However, instead of real life where my father can call the school and mentioned the word lawsuit to get the a-holes to back off. You can't get a book to back off. And that my friends, is unfortunate. At least there's a DNF button though, that's something, right?

Well, it is. And I did use it. After getting throughout little more than halfway through this book.

I'll be honest, I thought about doing another review with Ariel reviewing because this book involves mermaids. However, the 58% of it I read the mermaid idea is only vague and not fully formed and I just couldn't stand reading further so....

Yeah, this is going to just be me bitching or attempting to review this one.

I could talk about lots of things. About what an a-hole Sam is. That he serves no purpose other than to talk about his anatomy, whine about his parents, flirt with anything with breasts, and then whine about how he's a virgin. You know who Sam reminds me of remember the virgin in Hocus Pocus....

Actually, that kid is a better formed character than Sam. And I'm sure he'll lose his v-card faster than Sam (unless I missed something in the last forty-two percent of the book).

The whole idea of virginity has always been grating to me. I get that it served archaic value when people needed an heir because of stupid feudalism or whatever and even then I thought it was dumb, but this is the 21st century. By now judging a person based on whether or not they've been deflowered just serves no value whatsoever. But here we have a character that is essentially defined by his v-card and his dick.

God, talk about unhealthy messages. Look, I'm all for sex in YA. I think it serves a place. But I think you need to talk about the emotional consequences. Just talking about it physically isn't serving any purpose other than giving me icky images. In fact, it does the opposite.

Objectifying someone based on their looks. It triggers me in fact, see the introduction for this review. I find it especially degrading when a woman is judged merely by her appearance. And is harassed because of it. Maybe Madison wanted this to be a satire or something on the way society treats women, but it doesn't work.

The way this book is marketed it looks like its going to be a YA summer romance. But it hardly is. In fact, I don't know how to describe this book other than a bitch fest against women.

Okay, so I've done some research. I've read an article where Madison discusses how the book is supposed to be a spin on The Little Mermaid and virgin myths. If that's the case, I think he failed with what he was trying to do.

Which makes me wonder why and how did he fail?

I feel like this book wants to be literary novel which is fine. I've read stuff like this in college. I was a creative writing major and most of classes forced me to attempt to write literary shit, i.e. write stuff that I really could care less about. But admittedly when writing my stupid little story about deadly omelets and psychotic mistresses, I do understand the point and purpose to literary writing. If done correctly it often causes the reader to be deep in thought after reading it. The prose usually serves a purpose and more often than not it takes years of tweaking to get just right. There's usually hidden subtext and social meanings behind these works. And I can see why it takes seven years for one of these books to get out because it has to be written to perfection. In other words, a lot of these books are so boring as hell they are featured on NPR for their social relevance.

Genre fiction's different and it's more my speed. It's plot and character oriented. Social value may be imputed here and there, but the book is written more for the story than the art form. I'm more about genre fiction since I'm not a deep thinker and can't stand to spend seven years on one book like my professor did. But I do have respect for literary fiction.

Despite his efforts, September Girls is not literary fiction. Its not genre fiction either. I merely view it as publisher pigeon holed YA genre fiction that is attempting but greatly fails at being literary. The social messages it's trying to convey just seems like a half ass conversation between hipsters at Starbucks. Yes, I get what Madison is trying to accomplish but instead of there being elements within the book that makes it's a-holeness endearing or at the very least serve a purpose, we just get more shit piled on shit.

In the creative writing classes I took, I've read several short stories about horrible people. Stories about necrophilia. Stories about drug abusers. Stories about womanizers. The point is, I liked these stories. The characters though horrible people, were likable to an extent or at least they realized they were fucked up or if they didn't the whole world knew they were and their life sort of reflected their choices...here, not so much.

The same sort of problems exists with the word choices and the switches in points of view. While its typical to see various POV in literary work and tons and I mean tons of cursing, there's always a point to the use in language or the various points of view.

Here, I guess you could make an argument that the mermaid POV was needed to tell their story, but I didn't really get anything from their viewpoint. Just that they liked to refer to themselves as a collective. Which I guess makes enough since the mermaids personality was one in the same.

Oh God, the mermaids.

They're all like Stepford wives with stripper names. I really can't think of a better way to describe them. They are all the same character just with different beauty products names. I kid you not. That's their names. There's one of them named Olay and L'oreal.

And you want to know how they learned English, well Bennet borrowed the whole I learn via TV English which was a very popular trope in the 80's seen in such classics such as Splash and Earth Girls are Easy.

Other than that there's not much to the mermaids, though we are told they have good tits.

That's right: tits and dicks that's all Madison seems to want to talk about. I'm actually surprised the editor let that pass. But then again they let him have about a dozen or so f bombs on the page so who's surprised.

I'll be honest, as upsetting as this book was for me to read I'm sort of glad I read it. It reassured me that I made the right choice in deciding to get a JD instead of an MFA because if this was the stuff I'd have to workshop I'd go crazier than I did in Contracts 1.
Profile Image for Daniel Balici.
100 reviews20 followers
August 28, 2017
"It's hard to explain," I said. She hadn't asked for an explanation, but I figured I owed her one anyway. "Say there's this thing you want, this thing that seems more important than everything, this thing you've been waiting for because it will make you into something else. And then you don't want to change. Because you'll miss the person you were before."

As I have been able to notice on Goodreads, September Girls has attracted harsh criticism among a significant number of readers who felt offended by certain aspects encountered in the book. This triggered my desire to experience this novel which features magical realism, a genre I have usually enjoyed when reading Latin-American literature. In my opinion, September Girls is a slow-paced, eerie, atmospheric and character-driven YA fantasy book, even though many people have despised the characters participating in the narrated events.

The story is told mostly from Sam's point of view, a 17-yeard-old youngster who vacations together with his father and older brother, Jeff, in a remote beach town in the summertime. This town is populated by many young, blonde, beautiful and enigmatic girls who resemble one another and appear to be attracted to Sam, which is quite a surprise to his father and brother. Sam's mother suddenly left the family some time ago in order to pursue her recently-formed ideals and her departure affected both her husband and sons. The protagonist meets DeeDee, one of the Girls, and although there is a mutual attraction between the two, Sam finds himself conflicted about her mysterious personality and her unwillingness to talk about herself. Eventually, both Sam and Jeff discover the unknown surrounding the Girls.

Especially in the first few chapters certain readers might find the language used woefully inadequate, considering that there are some offensive sexist remarks made by Sam's brother, father and school friend, Sebastian. Even Sam appears a misogynist, visibly influenced by the men in his life. However, as the story progresses Sam matures and his initial shallow mentality towards women changes drastically. The same applies to Jeff and their father. I believe that the author did an excellent job regarding the character evolution. Sam becomes a person who is capable of appreciating and understanding women, a person who questions himself about love, virginity, life, death, self-identity and the supernatural aspect of the world. The relationship between Sam and DeeDee is portrayed realistically, the writer managing successfully to set aside the magical element. Until the final chapters, I had the impression that September Girls somehow lacked emotion. Nevertheless, while reading the ending I changed my mind.

That being said, even though September Girls was a read out of my comfort zone, I enjoyed it considerably and I believe that Bennett Madison's book deserves a greater amount of recognition on Goodreads. If you consider that you can overlook the controversy surrounding this YA fantasy novel and appreciate the lyrical and powerful prose, I think that it is worth a try.
Profile Image for Anthony Paull.
Author 3 books101 followers
February 5, 2013
Where to begin? There's a weight to certain books that reminds a reader why he or she reads. It's not always there, but when it is it makes your fingers burn, your heart heavy...it tires your eyes. That's where this book has left me, heated, exhausted, yet needing more...another dive back to the listless days of surf and sand. Madison has a distinct way of weaving poetry and metaphor that lends magic to his prose; that's what I enjoy most about his writing. There's always an eerie, fascinating undercurrent -- an unknown -- a roughness that though rough, guides the reader along so effortlessly that, at times, it's hard to remember you're part of it. Does that make sense? Can a story leave you invisible? Submerged? A spectator? Was that the plan? I read 'September Girls' in three nights, having to take breaks because I didn't want it or the 'summer' to end. I liked who I was reading it. I loved the fuzziness, the warmth of first love, the promise of salty sex. 'September Girls' follows 17 yr. old Sam and his older brother on a summer break to the Outer Banks, where time and the rest of the world appears to stop. All that's in the 'here and now' are the Girls, capital. The Girls look the same -- a combination of beauty, flowing blonde hair and Russian accents. They work as maids, waitresses. They steal, smoke, understanding they're part of a legend they're equally confused about. They are 'We' instead of 'I'...they don't necessarily like each other yet don't care. The mystery leads back to the water, leads back to the truth. There's a tremendous amount of story here, a beautiful tale of love and magic that somehow seems in reach. That's the gift of this story, the mirroring. The truth that lies within, as if Sam is trying to understand love while sinking in the sand. I can't recommend it enough. It has left an undeniable impression on me, a tingling. I'll need to go back it, read it again. I don't know why or what I'm looking for. I just feel there's something I missed, something endless inside that I can not do without.
Profile Image for usagi ☆ミ.
1,197 reviews277 followers
May 22, 2013
0.5/5 stars.

Originally, this was going to be a NO STARS FOR YOU BOOK. Seriously. It had me that angry, and baffled that Kirkus (among others) gave it a starred review. It was really a "I can't even, what is this?" moment. And then I looked a little deeper, and saw a little bit of redemptive qualities to this story. But only half a star's worth. Seriously. While I will admit Madison can write, I cannot in any kind of good conscience recommend "September Girls" - which is really a shame since I had high hopes for it months ago.

The said redemptive qualities: the Girls' monologues up until the one before chapter seven, which I'll be getting to in a bit. I have no doubt that Madison can write gorgeous magical realism that can easily leave people confused (hey, it happens) - and maybe that's what Kirkus and company were looking at when they gave this thing a starred review. There is an eerie quality to the Girls' monologues up until that fateful pre-chapter seven monologue, one that does feel unearthly and utterly inhuman. That's my kind of style, and I love it when authors can give me chills like that with their magical realism, so I can't deny him that. Bro can write when he really puts his mind to it, and when he leaves the savage sexism out of things.


There's the issue of tapping into a very primal male fear: that of the vagina dentata (the vagina with teeth, said to eat penises during sex). The particular Girls' monologue right before chapter seven really kind of reflects that. It talks in particular of the Girls having to survive after Daddy throws them out of the sea, and what they have in their proverbial tool kit in order to do so. We've had hints before this in previous monologues - such as, "You always find us. You always break our hearts" and so forth, making us think that they really do need human men to survive (and human women are totally out of the equation). Beauty is mentioned as a weapon, and how it's used to survive on land. Very oblique references to the vagina dentata are made the most in this monologue - which I find interesting that no one else so far has seemed to really pick up. Beauty is "the knife" that allows them to eat, to survive, and to live off of human males. The Girls even mention their names given to them by human men as being sexist (not explicitly but with the choice of names, it's made pretty obvious) and how they've used that to their advantage.

Which really? Kind of explains at least a little of the rampant, borderline-cruel sexism in this book. Which is not an excuse, nor a pardon for the author's choice in how he wrote this book - merely a desperate reason to find something to salvage within it.

As for the rest: flabbergastingly sexist, rampantly anti-feminist, and just plain painful to read, I can't recommend "September Girls". Analyzing it when you know you're going to rage about it is fun, but it doesn't make for easy or pleasant reading. And as much as I'm for unlikeable characters, this just went over the top, and by chapter seven, I was 500% done. I just couldn't read any further.

But that's just how I feel about it - I will admit I'm one in the very large chorus panning this book because of its sexism, but the panning is deserved. "September Girls" is out now from HarperTeen in North America, so if you so dare, check it out when you get the chance and see how you feel about this book.

(posted to goodreads, shelfari, and birthofanewwitch.wordpress.com)
Profile Image for Jill.
349 reviews338 followers
August 28, 2013
Sexist? Feminist? Blah, who cares? September Girls has inspired some extreme opinions for a book that that is the literary equivalent of a sigh.

I definitely don’t consider it sexist as so many reviewers have. The characters use coarse and objective words to describe women, but it shows how this type of language and thought is indoctrinated in men and women alike. The whole book uses a sexist mermaid legend to critique patriarchy. So if the claims of sexism are deterring you from reading it, do not fret and give it a chance.


It’s boring. And I think that also may have been intentional. My favorite part of the book is how it’s an ode to summer. Especially a summer lived in the prime of youth. How time melts during June, July, and August and the lines between days disappear—is it Wednesday or Sunday? no matter, we’ll do the same things anyway: swim, sleep, TV, walk, talk. Madison captures this languorous feeling but because of that, nothing distinguishes itself here. The book is a melancholy melody of sunburnt days and firework nights. It’s realistic to those youthful summers, but the thin and often confusing plot disappears behind the limp setting.

Mostly September Girls is too subtle. I agree with many of things it says about identity and love and gender, but they are woven in so lightly that I finished the book without taking much from the experience. So I’ll throw a third opinion into the September Girls goodreads circus: well-written with realistic characters and important themes but ultimately uninteresting.

Good quotes!

Starting to understand her was less like learning and more like forgetting. I was forgetting the DeeDee I created in my mind. Now, outside Ursula’s, in the grass by the highway, she was just DeeDee. She was only herself.

All we want is to break the curse. Like any good curse, it is breakable. Like any good curse, you lose as much in the breaking as you gain. Perhaps more. But what’s the alternative?

I had to think she and I were different not because of any curses or enchanted items or magic spells, but just because of who we were. Who we had made each other and who we would still become.
Profile Image for Gray Cox.
Author 4 books164 followers
November 27, 2018
I'm so done.

I'm done.

I'm doneeeeee.


I could point out several things like how stupid the whole plot and logic is, but the breaking point for me was when a character tried to rape the MC.

And it's portrayed as hot and okay.


This adult climbs into this minor boy's bed naked and tries to force him into sex and it's okay????


For all the people that for some reason aren't disturbed by this, let's play a little game of switch the genders!!

Twenty-one-year-old man climbs naked into the bed of an underage girl and tries to rape her.

Profile Image for Cassandra Mitchell.
118 reviews73 followers
May 21, 2013
I'm worried it may sell out because of all the glowing reviews.

I am pleasantly surprised.
No, actually.
I went into this book thinking I wouldn’t be able to make it past the first chapter. I thought for sure that within fifteen minutes I would have put it back on my bookshelf to sit there forever but that was not the case. There actually wasn’t anything wrong with it for the first few chapters…except that it was immensely boring but I stuck by it and even made it all the way to chapter seven!


Things to know before deciding whether this book is for you:
1. Sam is has a dick.
He makes sure to mention this quite often so I feel it is necessary to let everyone know before you start the book. But don’t worry, if you forget, he’ll remind you...every few pages.

2. This is not The Little Mermaid. I repeat, NOT The Little Mermaid.


“Look at this stuff. Isn’t it neat?”
I could have slapped her.

3. DeeDee doesn’t look like this:
 photo 50272_30767341414_9692_n_zps715607ca.jpg

Now, I have no issue with swearing. But at some point you have to draw a line. If there are more words on the page that are swears than regular words then you have a problem.

5. Dude is apparently something that every guy in the entire world says every three words. I just wanted to let everyone know incase you weren’t aware of that. Will I start using the word “dude” more frequently now so that I can fit in?

YES gifs photo: Yes! yes.gif

In conclusion, would I recommend this book?


But hey...at least it’s not a series.

An advanced readers copy of this book was provided to me from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!
Profile Image for caren.
520 reviews103 followers
February 19, 2013
I gave this book the old college try, I really did. I stuck it out for more than half, and it never grabbed my interest. Tragic, right? Because that cover is beautiful. I wanted this book to be the same way, and sadly, I did not enjoy it at all. It felt slow and strange and just...odd.

Not only that, but Sam's voice didn't feel genuine, to the point that for me, his character didn't feel real. Also, the "love" story between he and DeeDee seemed to come out of nowhere and have no basis at all for its beginning or its continuation. It wasn't just that though. Too many things like this happened that seemed unbelievably unbelievable. For one, if your mother has been missing for months and you call her, and she answers, do you not tell someone about that? Is that not important to your dad or your brother who are both not sure if she's safe or even alive? And, if your brother's "girlfriend" basically attempts to rape you by climbing into your bed naked, don't you think that's something you should tell someone?

I don't know, maybe I needed to stick it out until the end for all of the weird things to make sense, but I honestly didn't have the motivation. I was bored and when I have to force myself to finish a book, there's a pretty good chance I'm not going to like it any more than I already do just because I made myself read the whole thing.
Profile Image for ily .
455 reviews629 followers
March 20, 2016
When you come back to a shitty read


My goal for this year was to read 250 books, but somehow I've only read four books in three months. Forgive me for I have sinned. I've been lazy, I admit. But in my defense, I'm enjoying these months before college. (Kpop music has nothing to do with this.)

Now, this book.

I feel like when the teacher explains a math class and asks if you understand everything perfectly and you just nod even though you know you're screwed.

If you asked me right now what this book is about, I'd probably say something like "Horny teenage boy wants to have an orgy." Excuse me for trying to understand the mess that is September Girls. I just did not get it. Even worse: I couldn't bring myself to think about Sam nor the girls without wanting to go to sleep. They were just boring. Even DeeDee, who was supposed to be a very interesting female character. I'm getting bored just by writing this right now.

The only good thing about this book may be its cover, and maybe that it wasn't sexist as some say. The bad thing is that I read it.

Next time you should pay attention to the rating, Ily.
Profile Image for Kathryn Burak.
Author 6 books16 followers
July 30, 2013
I think it's easy to miss the point of this book and call it sexist. If you dive under the surface, you might see the author working with a culture of sexism and reaching some thoughtful points about sex, love, beauty, and gender. Do I wish the ideal beautiful person weren't white, blonde etc? Sure. But the way I see it, this book is truly magic realism--NOT paranormal. It allows us to work within the world-building of the author's imagination and think about ideas that go beyond plot and into the real world. It has symbols. It has truth. My favorite parts are the girls' chapters--what they have to say about being strangers in the world, being discarded, struggling to get past their traps. I recommend this book highly (it's not perfect, the plot has some convenience that stretches the plausible), but it's not for anyone who minds sexual content. Still, whatever might be jarring or offensive is there for a reason--it's not gratuitous as some claim--and the nature of that content changes strikingly as the main character changes.
Profile Image for Lenore Appelhans.
Author 8 books687 followers
April 29, 2013
Skip this if you’re squeamish about what really goes on in teen boys’ brains, but get past that and you’ll find an honest, reflective story about a magical lost summer and a fascinating twist on The Little Mermaid fairytale. Excellent characterization and family dynamics throughout.
Profile Image for Jessi (Novel Heartbeat).
999 reviews610 followers
May 20, 2013
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Thanks to HarperTeen for providing a copy for review!


Honestly, I didn’t even plan on reading this book. Just from the synopsis I wasn’t sure I’d even like it. But I got an ARC in one of my Harper packages, so I figured, why the hell not? Sigh. Now I know why.

I would never call anyone’s hard work crap, because I know writing a book is hard and time-consuming and probably devours a little piece of your soul; but it’s been a very long time since I’ve read anything this terrible (since I read Catcher in the Rye in high school, actually). It sounds mean, but that’s just how I feel. I probably should have run screaming when I started to see the horrible reviews trickling in, but I couldn’t help myself. I needed to see what everyone was ranting about. (Why oh why didn’t I run screaming?)

First of all, there is NO way on God’s green Earth that this book should ever be labeled as Young Adult. EVER. I’m extremely surprised that HarperTeen even published it. (I still love you, Harper.) It needs to be labeled as New Adult at the very least. I personally would never want my 14 year old reading this (if I had one, that is), and we all know there are YA book bloggers younger than that. *looks to Nikki and Eileen* I am disgusted and astounded that this book has passed for YA.

I had so many problems with this book just in the first 1/3 it’s not even funny:

1) The cursing. Now mind you, I curse like a sailor at times and I am by no means a lady. *snickers* But what. The. Hell. Even I have limits! I don’t mind it if the F word is used in YA, but only in very small doses; and it should really only be used in dire circumstances. Sometimes it can help rather than hinder because it conveys that desperation or anger. BUT. Small doses. Very small doses. I should have known I was in for it when the F word popped up in the first 2 pages. I actually had to start counting after I noticed it 5 or 6 times in twice as many pages – and I kid you not, the count got to sixty fucks before I gave up at page 100. SIXTY. That’s at least every other page and sometimes even multiple times on one page. This is not okay. And it wasn’t just the F word, words like ‘shithead’ and ‘ass’ and a myriad of other curse words were used in abundance. So many that there were at least 2-3 on every page. And just randomly inserted into the dialogue. Pointless!

2) The sexual innuendos and comments about sex. Masturbation is not an appropriate topic in YA. It’s unnecessary and serves no purpose to the story.

“Come on,” he said. “Let’s go look at the ocean. Might as well, right?”
“Man, I just want to go to bed,” I said. I was exhausted. I wanted to jerk off and fall asleep.

See, why is that even necessary? Just because you masturbate doesn’t mean we need to hear about it.

It felt good to be alone, especially after the previous day’s cramped and endless journey. I consider myself a social person, but sometimes I feel best being sociable with myself. I guess that’s why I enjoy masturbation.

What the hell? Because that’s totally what I think about when I’m alone. Most people would say ‘I guess that’s why I enjoy reading’ or ‘I guess that’s why I enjoy listening to my iPod’ but nope, his hobby is apparently masturbating. Nice.

I can say without too much ego that I am attractive enough, but usually feel more awkward than handsome. I’m never sure of how I’m supposed to move. [...] This morning at the beach was different. I felt the muscles in my shoulders pumping with blood. I felt ocean in my eyelashes and a heaviness in my dick.

NOT. NECESSARY. *awkward turtle*

Something seemed to be bothering him. I figured it had to be the lack of sex, which he’d previously made a point of indicating he was used to on a very regular basis.

Because naturally, if someone is bothered by something, it’s their lack of sex. Couldn’t be anything else, really.

She reached out and dragged her long, red nail from my shoulder down to my chest, swaying her hips as she did it. Her eyes were burning: green with gold rings around the pupils. I tried to look away but I found that I could not. I instantly had a raging boner.

“You sleep with some girl once, and before you know it you’re like trapped in her crazy pussy-web,” he said, nodding sagely to himself.

….I can’t even formulate a sarcastic reply for that. Pussy-web? Who talks like that? Then he goes off on a 2 page tangent about his ‘small success in [the sex] department last year’ that is completely irrelevant to the story and just makes the character look even more like an ass; talking about how he groped this girl’s chest while she was drunk, that it could have gone farther if her ‘horrible friend’ hadn’t interrupted (because in no way shape or form is that anywhere close to rape, taking advantage of a totally wasted chick), and:

Although Sasha remained obviously into me in the weeks following the party – texting me nonstop and leaving long and pointless handwritten notes in my locker – I’d quickly decided that she was annoying and not even all that hot.

This pisses me off on so many levels. First of all, you don’t like her because she’s ‘not hot?’ Really? If a girl takes the time to write you a letter and you ditch her because she’s not hot enough, you’re clearly not worthy of her anyway. To all you young ladies, I swear to you not all guys are like that. There are many that would appreciate such a gesture. Proving even more that this book is disgusting. (And again, that story wasn’t even relevant to the book and could have been left out, saving him from looking like a total asshole.)

3) All the Girls were blonde, ‘insanely hot,’ and had big boobs. ALL of them. Honestly, it just sounded like some dude’s wet dream to me. Oodles of ‘hot’ girls, everywhere, coming on to the main character, because they have to have sex with a male virgin to break their mermaid curse. Sounds more like fanfic than a good story line. And this:

We learn the small pleasures of this place: press-on nails and eye makeup and hair dye, Chinese slippers with sequins and little embroidered flowers. Wine coolers and soap operas. We don’t like meat, but we have a weakness for french fries. Not to mention french tips.

Because that’s all that girls care about. How ’bout learning to read? Or getting a fucking education? Oops, sorry, the book has apparently rubbed off on me. ‘Scuse my poor manners. But the sexism of that really irked me! It was glaringly obvious that this book was written by a male, not to be sexist myself here. But seriously.

4) The random, imbecilic comments such as:

I mean, I’m not an idiot [gee, that's hilarious]. I’m ninety-nine percent convinced that the world is not flat. But I believe you can’t be sure of anything until you’ve seen it with your own two eyes. And maybe it’s just the limitations of photography, but I’ve seen those pictures of the earth from outer space and it looks flat as a quarter to me.

Seriously? Are you 5? I think even a 3rd grader knows the difference between 2D and 3D. This was just plain ridiculous.

She had the same accent that Kristle had. It was soft and fluid and could have been French or Scottish or South African or anything really.

Yeah, because all three of those sound exactly alike. Dumbass.

“Where do you think she is?” [...]
“I think she’s gone,” I told him.
“Well, clearly,” he said. “But where is she? I mean where?”
“She’s in the land of women,” I said. “A place we cannot even begin to comprehend. Don’t think too hard about it; it’s like staring directly into the sun.”

Right. The mystical Land of Women. That’s where we all reside when we can’t be found. And if you try to find it, you’ll wander in circles, lost, for the rest of your sad and miserable life.

I read 100 pages of this ridiculousness before I gave up, then skimmed through to the end to see if there was any point to the book (and really, to satisfy my curiosity about the Girls). There wasn’t. This book was crass and inappropriate and I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone, ever.

Plot: 0/5
Writing style: 1/5
Characters: 0/5
Pace: 1/5
Cover: 3/5

Overall rating: 0/5 starfish
Profile Image for Kelly.
Author 7 books1,211 followers
June 20, 2013
I did not find this offensive as many others did. Some of that misogynistic stuff was on purpose. It was Sam's journey from people pushing what it means to be a man on him to figuring out what it really means to be a man for himself. He's bombarded with ideas of treating women like crap, and he avoids it. He loves Dee Dee and he doesn't succumb to the advances made upon him, when he could have done it easily. When it was what he was being pressured to do.

Full review: http://www.stackedbooks.org/2013/06/s...
Profile Image for Julianna Helms.
277 reviews140 followers
Shelved as 'never-ever-says-big-brother'
April 27, 2013

Edited 26 April 2013

Yeah no. The reviews have made me realize just how much of a flopping crappiness this book is. Another case of the cover being beautiful and the book a rambunctious decree of death on humanity. (*cough* Mara Dyer) But yeah. Noooo. Not reading this. I wish I could have the original cover art to hang on my wall, though, without the title and author.
Profile Image for Ariel.
301 reviews64.2k followers
September 2, 2016
Such a bizarre read! I had a few problems with it... it was slow paced, I don't feel like all my questions were answered... but I still read it really quickly because I was pulled into the feeling of being in an alternate universe. My main feeling coming out of this is simply "It was weird!"

I'll be reviewing this in a video very soon!
Profile Image for Charlotte.
337 reviews124 followers
May 19, 2013
Originally posted at Gypsy Reviews

I received an eARC from HarperTeen via Edelweiss. Thank you!

Congratulations September Girls, you have gotten my first 1 star rating ever. I don’t give these out to any old book, I give these even more rarely than I give 5 star reviews. Just fantastic with your portrayal in women as hos, lots of descriptions about women mainly pertaining to their chest area and including lots of naked women because naked women are everywhere! With a dash of horny boys and characters who cannot think of nothing else to say but lots of expletives. Great job September Girls! *thumbs up* You absolutely did not have my inner feminism raging at this book

Sam has got to be one of the most boring and unbelievable characters I have ever read about. He supposedly goes through this ‘transformation’ throughout the book but I really didn’t see anything because he was so incredibly boring. You can see the attempt to make Sam this really deep guy who goes through a journey of self-discovery and make him seem like a good guy and always the victim. I can’t really take it seriously if he suddenly has a revelation drunk and at a club dancing around. Who has revelations like that? If anything at all, Sam is a jerk and a mindless drone. His actions in the past seem mainly dictated by his best friend, Sebastian who actually got him to dump a girl because she was a ‘starter’ and after he had groped her breast then after she started to shun him, he then felt guilty. …………… Am I supposed to sympathise with a guy like this?

Now onto the portrayal of women, Sam and other male characters in the book see women as mostly hos. It’s not only the male characters, even the girls. Every single time a women is mentioned, without a doubt when it comes to their description, their breasts have to be mentioned because yes, a women is defined by her breasts. Sure, women have breasts and you can distinguish a women from a man by their breasts so do we define men by their penises? Why didn’t I see whenever a man came into a scene, their penis wasn’t mentioned? There were also lots of naked women, why are the women naked? Why? Either that or they’re scantily clad. Did everyone just lose their clothes or something?

Not every book needs to have the empowerment of women but at least respect women. I didn’t see this at all. Rather women were treated more like objects – walking sticks with breasts if you will. There for the pleasure of men and to be used for sex because that is what they are here for. It bothered me so much that the Girls were blonde, thin and so on because this was how they got what they wanted. It speaks so much about the portrayal of men too in this book, that the only thing that matters to them about a women is their breasts and they’re thin and beautiful. It was absolutely disgusting to read about it. This basically embodies everything that is wrong with society and we shouldn’t be encouraging this in any sort of media at all. If it was purposely to highlight what we shouldn’t be doing, I would be okay with that but September Girls gave me no indication as to the fact that all of this was wrong at all.

The whole book made absolutely no sense to me at all. I have no idea what was going on because it seemed pointless. At the 50% mark, I just stopped reading it carefully and started skimming because I wasn’t going to waste more time reading this when I could have been reading other books. It’s mainly Sam’s inner thoughts and attempts to be deep and find the meaning of life. Whining a little that he didn’t understand Dee Dee because she was avoiding him and then he loves her when he hardly even knows her at all. Apparently, he thinks that making out with her can constitute as getting to know her and knowing her enough to be in love with her. I never got the indication throughout the book that Sam was a nice guy, he didn’t seem to have his own personality.

The inclusion of the paranormal and fantasy element was so poorly done, why was it even included? It seemed absolutely redundant. Why did the Girls have to go through this? Was there some sort of hidden meaning or purpose behind it? Also, why was it only girls? There are male mermaids you know. Also the way to break the curse? Made to put men on a peddle stone for women to worship at is it? So the Girls would throw themselves at virgin boys? *rolls eyes*

The use of expletives was astounding. No idea how Madison got away with this, particularly for a Young Adult book but do you really have to use them in nearly every single sentence? Do the characters honestly have no other words they can use? Someone needs to buy them some dictionaries because boy, if these was the olden days, their mouths would have been scrubbed clean with soap. Plus the negative influences of smoking, drinking and even drugs. It’s not a book you want a Young Adult audience to read because really, what good are they gonna get out of this? There are no role models here, there’s nothing to learn from September Girls.

September Girls is a good example of what not to do in a book. It’s misogynist to the core and so incredibly sexist. If this was what a guy’s mind looks like, well I pity the human race. Stay away from this book, I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone even if you begged me to. I would probably grab this book out of your hands and run away screaming, “THIS IS FOR YOUR OWN GOOD!”. Now I’m going to try and find an awesome epic book to read and regenerate all the brain cells I lost while reading this. I salute everyone else who has read this book as well, you have done a great service to the book community *salutes*
Profile Image for Kat.
477 reviews166 followers
May 18, 2013
The first thing that attracted me to September Girls was the cover. Despite the fact that coupled with the synopsis it strongly hinted at a mermaid story, which I have pretty mixed feelings about, it also sounded kinda mysterious too, which was an added drawcard.

The very first thing that struck me about the book was the language. Not necessarily the swearing (I've got the mouth of a sailor so I can't really be that judgmental , but the mismatch between the dialogue and the story itself. The language is quite lyrical and literary in parts, but the dialogue just made me think of chavs. If you don't know what chavs are, you should totally Google them (if nothing else, it's great for a pick-me-up giggle). And once I noticed that mismatch it really grated on me.

The characters try to be individual but when it came to Sam and his brother and parents it felt like they were trying all a little bit too hard. There's something of a mystery about Sam's mother which is never completely explained, and his brother is such a stereotype and goes from best-buddy-brother to almost non-existent, even before there is a good reason behind it.

Sam himself really wasn't very individual or memorable, and I think if I had found him more appealing I would have enjoyed September Girls much more. After all, he's the main character, and it's his story, yet he almost fades into the background.

There's also a huge lull in the middle, where I was waiting for something to happen for what felt like 200 pages of back and forth, something bordering on insta-love, and a family dynamic that really just didn't mesh.

However, I was totally intrigued about the Girls. Their POV is a gradual reveal rather than an information dump, and the writing of it is almost poetic. I also liked that the ending was more open than a happily ever after story.

Overall, I'm completed conflicted about this book. There were parts that I loved, such as the POV of the Girls themselves, parts that I was completely ambivalent about, such as the interactions between Sam and his family, and parts that frustrated me, such as Sam's plodding personality. There are flashes of brilliance but there were just too many mismatches for me.

Read more of my reviews at The Aussie Zombie
Profile Image for Traci.
567 reviews41 followers
September 11, 2013
I'm going to attempt to write the review for September Girls in the style of September Girls.

Dude. Dude! I mean, for real, bro. You have like, no fuckin' idea, man. This total bro in this book. This bro! His ho mom like, goes on facebook and farms and shit. Who does that?! Bitches and hos. And then she like, runs off to women land, bro. So this dude and his bro and their dad, a total bro, scratch their balls and fart and go to the beach and shit. They meet these total skanks, and after a party or two they're tangled in some bitches' pussy-webs. And their slut mom shows up. Bitch. And our bro Sam pops his cherry and the dudes all go home. Slut mom may have gone too. Not sure.

...okay, so, that's really the book. And I mean, I say dude and sometimes I say bro. But I don't think I've ever met anyone ever who talks like that. And there was actually something about a pussy web. I read that quote to my mom, and she said "is that something we do?"

Yeah, pretty much that. Anyway, our main character, Sam, has lost his mother recently to something called Women's Land which she found through farmville, and in order to make them all feel better, Sam's dad takes him and his brother Jeff to the beach for the summer. Sam is a virgin who constantly reminds us that he has a penis, and Jeff's sole purpose in life is getting Sam laid. Somehow Sam has this friend who is absolutely disgusting who never really shows up in the book and I still hate him. There are some mermaids and

So I could go on some big angry rant, or I could just say don't read this if you're a girl. Or if you do want to read it, you should probably go into it thinking that it's some stoned teenage boy's wet dream. So, you know, dude.
Profile Image for Sab.
299 reviews91 followers
May 29, 2013
This review and more on Sab The Book Eater

Don’t let the pretty cover fool you – this book is far from fluffy and sweet. September Girls has a lot of cussing and sex… or talk of sex. I can’t say there was a lot of sex because Sam, the main character, barely got some and he complained about it a lot. I’ve never read so many F bombs or such vivid descriptions of people making out in a YA book. I understand how a lot of readers can get turned off or even disgusted by this. It’s a young adult book, after all. But one has to consider that Sam is 17 years old. In reality most 17 year old guys aren’t like the swoon-worthy love interests we read about in books. I’m not saying that guys around that age are pigs but let’s face it – it’s that stage in a boy’s life where his hormones are raging. Sam’s POV is as honest as it gets, in my opinion. But the problem is, it’s like the audience wasn’t even considered when this book was being written (and edited). Who reads YA books with pretty covers? Girls. Young girls.

If the crudity was meant to convey something other than to show what boys are really like, it didn’t appear that way. For the most part, Sam kept talking about his urges and how the girls are extremely hot and whatnot. I didn’t get much out of it. There had to be a point to it all. I mean, sure, he's still a virgin at 17 and well what do you know? He has the magic stick! But did everything have to be said so crudely? I didn't get it. I didn’t help me understand the plot better and it surely didn’t help me appreciate Sam.

Who is Sam, anyway? Take away all the talk of sex and what do I know about him? Very little. I barely even got to the point where I somewhat understood his character. His character lacked development, I think, even till the very end. He says he feels differently and that his time at the beach changed him but how?In what way did he change? In what way did he feel differently? It was all vague and underdeveloped.

You know what else was vague and underdeveloped? The Girls. The chapters written in their perspective, while I appreciate some of it, just felt repetitive and useless. They answered the basic questions but by the end of it all, I still felt like they lacked depth and development. Especially DeeDee. I had a hard time trying to understand why exactly DeeDee was "different" than the other Girls. Was it because she enjoyed reading? Was it because she was more cynical than most? Was it because she was less horny than Kristle? Because I reckon if Sam met the other Girls (he only interacted with three, I think), he wouldn't find DeeDee so special. Or who knows, maybe it was her mermaid voodoo that did the trick. Woops! There, I said it. Now you know what they are.

The readers are left with a rather vague (vague seems to be a trend here) ending. Summer is over and so is Sam and DeeDee's story. There were a lot of loose ends and it wasn't just with them but with everyone else! I honestly don't know what's wrong with me but oddly enough I kind of like how unfinished the story was. It felt sad yet magical in a way - to leave a place and time where everything was different and to fight to remember it all after. I just wish it was written better. Heck, the whole book could've been written better. It actually took me 6 days to finish it. If a book truly was engaging, I would be able to finish it fast! September Girls had a lot of potential but there were a lot of things that needed to be developed. Simply put: great concept, bad execution. And I just can't bring myself to like a book on a great idea alone.

(ARC provided by publisher via Edelweiss. This review is based solely on my opinion.)
Profile Image for mark monday.
1,645 reviews5,102 followers
Want to read
September 23, 2013
I'm excited to read this! although the subject matter looks only slightly interesting to me, all of the 1-star reviews of this book are so hilarious that I am sold. but not because they are making the book look bad, not at all. all that disgust over the casual sexism and the characters' relentless talk of masturbation & horniness & erections... reviewer dismay over all of that is what is so frickin' hilarious! I'm not sure what some reviewers are looking for in a book. their perfect teenage male who has never had such thoughts or conversations? ha! good luck with that. well they better avoid literary fiction at all costs. and not just literary fiction, genre fiction geared towards adults too I suppose. it's a tough and often realistic world out there!

almost as hilarious is this blog by some nitwit author who holds those same reviews up as examples of "bullying"... sweet Jesus, it's like everyone has lost their grip on reality. I wonder if my previous sentence would be considered bullying. I did use the word "nitwit" after all, uh oh. more to the point, since when is calling a book out for its sexist characters - as misguided as I personally think that may be - remotely like bullying? perhaps these people have never had their feelings hurt before and so when they see critical things being said, they think that is bullying. obviously they have never been bullied before. as someone who has at different times been a bully and who has been bullied, it irritates and amuses me to no end to witness the constant misuse of that word. they should all watch The Bad Girls Club to see what actual bullying looks like.

people are so fucken amusing!
Profile Image for Tracy Holczer.
Author 4 books84 followers
September 18, 2013
I have to admit that I came to this skeptical because of all the comments about it being sexist. Glory be to subjectivity! I love how everyone is all ready to argue their perspective on this story, which is great. These are so discussions we should be having as women.

That being said, I didn't find this story to be misogynistic at all. Quite the opposite. I found it not only to be not sexist, but a story about a boy discovering his male privilege and rising above it. Yes, he definitely starts out a snarky male teen who looks at girls as objects. And the Girls themselves are definitely portrayed as objects. But what I thought was great about that, was the Girls were using their looks against men (which, this may be unpopular, but how many of us girls learned to do this very thing as young women? how to manipulate men to get what we wanted? not very healthy but realistic) to get what they needed.

The whole point of the story was that WE ARE NOT OUR EXTERIORS. We are our interiors. Only he did it in an amazingly honest way. I'm sorry others didn't see it that way, but I'm happy they didn't or I may never have found this amazing book.
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