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Solitaire #1


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In case you’re wondering, this is not a love story.

My name is Tori Spring. I like to sleep and I like to blog. Last year – before all that stuff with Charlie and before I had to face the harsh realities of A-Levels and university applications and the fact that one day I really will have to start talking to people – I had friends. Things were very different, I guess, but that’s all over now.

Now there’s Solitaire. And Michael Holden.

I don’t know what Solitaire are trying to do, and I don’t care about Michael Holden.
I really don’t.

This incredible debut novel by outstanding young author Alice Oseman is perfect for fans of John Green, Rainbow Rowell and all unflinchingly honest writers.

392 pages, Paperback

First published July 31, 2014

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About the author

Alice Oseman

66 books70.1k followers
Alice Oseman is an award-winning author, illustrator, and screenwriter, and was born in 1994 in Kent, England. She has written four YA contemporary novels about teenage disasters: SOLITAIRE, RADIO SILENCE, I WAS BORN FOR THIS, and LOVELESS. She is the creator of LGBTQ+ YA romance webcomic HEARTSTOPPER, which is now published in physical form by Hachette Children's Books, and she is the writer, creator, and executive producer for the television adaptation of HEARTSTOPPER, which is set to be released on Netflix.

Alice’s first novel SOLITAIRE was published when she was nineteen. Her YA novels have been nominated for the YA Book Prize, the Inky Awards, the Carnegie Medal, and the Goodreads Choice Awards.

Alongside writing and drawing, Alice enjoys playing the piano semi-proficiently, Pokémon games, and purchasing too many Converse.

Find Alice on Twitter and Instagram @AliceOseman.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 12,555 reviews
Profile Image for Alice Oseman.
Author 66 books70.1k followers
August 22, 2020
Hi! I highly recommend you check out the content warnings before reading this book: aliceoseman.com/content-warnings

As of August 2020, I am currently in the process of making editorial changes to SOLITAIRE.

This is my first published book! I wrote it in 2012 when I was seventeen. It features:
- a protagonist battling undiagnosed depression with self-deprecating jokes and learning to find joy in the world
- an eccentric speed skater who likes solving mysteries but doesn't have any friends
- two very different teens finding hope in a new friendship
- an online group of pranksters
- Nick and Charlie from HEARTSTOPPER
Thanks for reading!
Profile Image for Kai Spellmeier.
Author 6 books13.6k followers
January 29, 2021
“But books–they’re different. When you watch a film, you’re sort of an outsider looking in. With a book–you’re right there. You are inside. You are the main character.”

4.5/5 stars

I first heard about Solitaire on Tumblr. I've been following Alice Oseman ever since and I desperately wanted to read her novel. So when I finally, finally! found it at the library I think I maybe made some loud joyful sound and hugged it...yeah.

I loved Solitaire from the beginning. I couldn't wait to read about all the characters I had already heard of and I instantly fell in love with Nick&Charlie.
Solitaire is, in general, an extremely relatable YA novel. It deals with all the stuff our generation deals with, especially anxiety, depression and lgbt+ topics. It makes me very happy to see all this put into words and represented in this wonderful story.

Although I disliked a few characters - I did not really understand why the main character even put up with them - and did expect something else from the ending, I just have to give 5 stars. I believe this is a book you either love or hate, understand or don't. And I love and understand.

Find more of my books on Instagram
Profile Image for Romie.
1,075 reviews1,272 followers
January 2, 2020
Just because someone smiles doesn’t mean that they’re happy.

This isn’t a book about happy people. I don’t even think this book was made for happy people, they would dislike it, say everything inside this book is utter bullshit. But it isn’t. It’s the absolute truth.

This book broke me, I think I’m reading it at the exact right moment in my life. 16-year-old me wouldn’t have liked it all that much, she would have sympathised with the characters, but she wouldn’t have understood them like 21-year-old me did.

This is the story of sad & introvert Tori Spring. Nothing about being sad or introvert is wrong. That’s just the way she is. And yet people judge her for being like this. This say she doesn’t try enough to make friends, or to care about anything, and maybe it’s true, it probably is, but they’re not her. They don’t understand what’s going on inside her head. They don’t know how much she actually cares about her brother Charlie, the best person in the entire world, or how the things that happened to him broke her because he’s her little brother and nothing bad should happen to him. They don’t know that she’s sad 95% of the time but can do nothing about it because this isn’t just her deciding to be sad, this is her experiencing her life. Tori Spring was born in a world in which you should smile all the time and answer ‘I’m fine’ to every ‘How are you?’ Tori Spring was born into an extrovert and fake happy world, but why should she bend to the world’s will and be like that as well? This isn’t her.

One day she meets angry boy Michael Holden. Angry at the world for expecting him to be someone he’s not. Angry at people for thinking him weird and not worthy of their attention and respect when he’s just being himself. Angry all the time. But hiding it. Hiding it because people would judge him even more, they would make him feel even more lonely than he is now. Michael Holden is the softest boy you will ever meet. He’s angry but that doesn’t he isn’t trying to make Tori happy, really happy, not fake. He’s not trying to save her, she doesn’t need to be saved, she needs to see she’s not alone in this world, that people like her exist. Michael Holden doesn’t want to save her, and he doesn’t need to be saved either. They just both need someone to help them. And their this person for each other.

Ultimately this is a book about family and friendship. The family dynamic between the Spring siblings is one of the best I’ve read about. They’re a bunch of precious human beings who deserve for good things to happen to them. They’re trying to make their way through this world the best way they can, sometimes they fail, but they got each other to help them get up when they fall.

This book isn’t perfect, but it was perfectly real, and I needed it.

There comes a point, though, when you can’t keep looking after other people any more. You have to start looking after yourself.

Profile Image for Kiki.
193 reviews8,459 followers
February 13, 2020
This book was pretty damn bad, but my review for it was also hot rambling garbage. Let me just be succinct: if you're looking to read the Oseman backlog, don't bother with this one. It's not worth it.
Profile Image for Sofia.
258 reviews6,467 followers
June 20, 2022
Sometimes I think Alice Oseman books have captured a part of my soul that nothing else has managed to describe in exactly the right words. Her stories are streams of consciousness, explorations of identity, odes to teenage senescence. Dedicated to kids who have no idea who they are but are figuring it out together, kids who are sad and empty and lost and trying to remember where they used to fit in the world, kids who feel a little bit broken until they find the platonic soulmate who fills the gaps. Solitaire is radiant.

All the people are chatting and laughing and smiling and it sort of makes me feel a bit sad, like I’m watching them through a dirty window.

I find one song that I really love and then I listen to it about twenty billion times until I hate it and have ruined it for myself.

Someone’s banging on the door of the bathroom. I’ve been in here for ages just staring at myself in the mirror, watching my eyes tear up and dry and tear up and dry.

“I’m a little bit in love with everyone I meet.”

I listen to the dark. They’re all coming to get you. Your heartbeats are footsteps.

Don’t be sad any more. Don’t be sad any more.

5 stars
Profile Image for tappkalina.
650 reviews399 followers
April 7, 2023
Wow, what a mess.

I liked Tori and her friendship with Michael, but what was this book about?
Friendship? Love? Family? Bullying? Depression? Or was it a thriller?
I honestly don't know.
I'm confused af.
Profile Image for Lea (drumsofautumn).
619 reviews627 followers
May 2, 2022
My review is based on that edition. I have no idea of the changes that have been made recently. I'm glad for trigger warnings having been added and any potential edits that have been made. Take this review with a grain of salt for that reason though.

Also I will not be engaging with anyone in the comments about anything at all whatsoever. I am not trying to argue with people about my personal experience nor the contents of the book, especially since they might have been edited in recent copies and it's been 5 years since I have read it. I do not remember the details nor do I have my paperback copy to look up any specifics scenes. And frankly, I'd like to spend my energy on other things. [2022 PSA END]


I really wanted to write a very detailed, as objective as possible of a review of this but honestly I'm realizing I just can't. I thought this book was super problematic so I'm just gonna write my thoughts as they come to me.

Trigger warnings for suicide/suicidal thoughts, self-harm and eating disorders. Pretty sure there's more so please be very aware and feel free to ask me if you want to know about any specific ones!

I know the main character is relatable for many and I hope that any of you who read this will understand that anything I say in this is nothing against your or your experiences. NOR is it anything against the author, as I know they were very young when the book was published.

This is a very, very subjective review based on MY personal experiences but also based on the fact that I am much older than the main character and yet I felt incredibly triggered by this book. It would've been very harmful for me to read this at a younger age and so I want to share my experience, in an effort to potentially warn other readers before they dive into this story.

Let's talk about Tori's brother a little bit first because that is what I found most disturbing. I think I could have been okay with lots of things in this book but this pointed out how problematic it truly is.
Charlie tries to kill himself, he is self-harming and has an eating disorder. And what happens after he gets out of the hospital after that first suicide attempt? I GUESS NOTHING! Not once is therapy even mentioned except for a little bit of treatment when Charlie is in the hospital. (edit in 2022: And I do NOT care that it comes up in Heartstopper, this book should stand on its own)
Say what you want about the way mental health and illness is portrayed in this book in general but it is NOT okay to basically ignore a suicide attempt! Tori even mentions that she sees Charlie wearing long-sleeved shirts quite a lot, which should absolutely have everybody's alarm bells ring.

About Tori. Completely separate to what is actually going on with her mental health, I found it super problematic that apparently Tori was the one who found her brother after that first suicide attempt. And I guess nobody ever cared about that either? Oh, she just saw her brother bleeding to death, that's fine, A SIXTEEN YEAR OLD GIRL CAN HANDLE IT!!!! WHAT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Also I hated the portrayal of Tori's parents. I get it, it's supposed to be that way. Many people are alone in their struggles. But in a FICTIONAL book, I wish we would've had one adult showing at least a little bit of concern.

There's also a bunch of super graphic descriptions of how Tori just wants everybody around her to die and it was just too much for me. I get it, sometimes you're like I hate everybody, please die but it's more like "I would pick up a gun and shoot everybody in the head and I would see them bleed to death." I honestly didn't really understand why this needed to be so graphic?

And why the fuck is the tagline "this is not a love story"? IT IS a love story! And that is perfectly fine but not if you try to sell it like it's not, like a romantic storyline should be something to look down on. Honestly the love story was almost one of my favourite parts. I liked the basic romantic storyline, I even liked the love interest and I wanted them to get together.

BUT I thought there was also a little bit of the "love can heal you" trope.
Tori never ever smiles. She doesn't find joy in anything. She hates everything. But when she talks to Michael she smiles.
Tori spends her whole day in bed and doesn't want to talk to anybody. She find out Michael has an important event where he needs support. She jumps out of bed and goes to that event.
SO??? I DON'T REALLY GET IT???? Is this supposed to be a portrayal of a teenager just being a little bit sad and kind of stuck in a weird place and then she finally finds someone who cares about her and so things get better for her? Because that would be a legit thing for me. I'd be fine with that as long as it's made clear.

But it's never really mentioned. We never really know if Tori has depression or what the fuck is even going on. So from everything we read - it does seem Tori is supposed to be a character with depression. And it's basically the most cliche portrayal of depression ever and it's just upsetting - especially when THEN a single person can swoop in and make things better.

So - as you can tell, I really didn't like this book. After writing this review I'm even thinking of giving it only a 1 star rating but there were certain aspects that I enjoyed. It was just that with everything I have experienced it was an incredibly upsetting read for me.
I did think of DNFing it but I thought maybe there'd be a redemption arc or something. There simply wasn't. So I'm left with this horrible feeling and I just want to share my thoughts to be able to stop others from from potentially having the same experience.
Profile Image for l..
491 reviews2,071 followers
January 6, 2022
“My name is Victoria Spring. I think you should know that I make up a lot of stuff in my head and then get sad about it. I like to sleep and I like to blog. I am going to die someday.” (I am Victoria, Victoria is me.)

🌈 buddy read with a golden soul
Profile Image for Lucy Tonks.
488 reviews716 followers
August 25, 2021
"All I know is that I’m here. And I’m alive. And I’m not alone."

This has just become one of my favourite books. I do think that I liked Radio Silence a little bit better, but man this is right next to it. I just loved this book so much. I was a little bit hesitant going into this book since I've seen a lot of people saying that this book is not as good as Alice Oseman's other works but I personally really loved it. I know it's not a perfect book by any means, but it simply worked for me.

TW: suicide, self-harm, depression, eating disorders, obsessive-compulsive behaviours, incidents of homophobia (for more in depth trigger warnings check Alice Oseman's website)

This is not a love story. Tori Spring is a girl who likes to blong and sleep. Last year, before everything that happened with her brother, Charlie, she had to face the harsh realities of high school and that she will eventually have to talk to other people. But that's in the past. Now there's Solitaire and Michael Holden.

Random thought, but at the moment I'm not sure if I want a haircut like Tori's because of her or is quarantine simply getting to me (again. I already got side bangs and bleached half of my hair this year, I don't need another risky decision).

The plot was so interesting and intrigued and I just loved following Tori along. To be honest, at the end I realised what was going to happen, but only because this was mentioned in Radio Silence. Through out the book I didn't make any connections with Radio Silence, but as I got to the end it clicked together.

“As far as I'm concerned, I came out of the womb spouting cynicism and wishing for rain.”

I really liked Tori as a character. I really connected with her and I also related with her, a lot.. I always end up relating with a character when it comes to Alice Oseman's books. For example in Radio Silence I found both Frances and Aled relatable and in Heartstopper I had a lot in common with Charlie. Basically I always find introverts relatable. But I simply found Tori's character extremely intriguing since she was different. She wasn't as other characters that I read about. I don't even know how to explain and I wouldn't because it would just come out wrong. I'm not trying to say she isn't like other girls

I liked Michael and the relationship that he established with Tori through out the book. Although there were times when I was frustrated by the way they were interacting with eachother, by the way they managed to screw things up, I still really liked it but the end, I just wished we got more of it.

This book was amazing and I loved it so much that I'll probably give in and read this novel again soon. This is not a book for everybody. Keep that in mind before picking this book up since this is a pretty dark book about mental health and sometimes it can get pretty graphic.

"I don’t want people to be worried about me. There’s nothing to worry about. I don’t want people to try and understand why I’m the way I am, because I should be the first person to understand that. And I don’t understand yet. I don’t want people to interfere. I don’t want people in my head, picking out this and that, permanently picking up the broken pieces of me."

P.S. If anyone knows any books that are similar to this one or any other Alice Oseman books please hit me up, I really wanna read more books like this.
Profile Image for Virginia Ronan ♥ Herondale ♥.
531 reviews34.5k followers
January 17, 2023
I’m on BookTube now! =)

”And who are you, Victoria Spring?”
I can’t think of anything to say because that is what my answer would be really. Nothing. I am a vacuum. I am a void. I am nothing.

Trigger warnings:

To write a review about “Solitaire” turns out to be more difficult than I thought it would be. Mostly because I still don’t know where I stand with the book or rather on which side I came out of? About half of the people who read it loved it and the other half seems to dislike it pretty strongly. There rarely seems to be anything in between and I totally get why the opinions about this book are so varied. It’s not an easy book to like, because Tori Spring is not your typical MC. And I don’t even mean that she’s an anti-hero, she’s just not someone you’d like to be friends with and her life and the people she surrounds herself with are all pretty bland and uncongenial.

”There’s a time and a place for being normal. For most people, normal is their default setting. But for some, like you and me, normal is something we have to bring out, like putting on a suit for a posh dinner.”

But well, I guess that’s exactly the point of the book. You’re not supposed to like Tori, you’re expected to question her life, you’re meant to challenge her decisions and you’re expected to scrutinize the way she interacts with her environment. Alice herself wrote that Tori is battling undiagnosed depression and you can feel it on every single page. The people she surrounds herself with don’t get it and Tori herself doesn’t expect anything from life which only makes everything even worse. You can see the spiral she’s in but she’s unable to get out of it herself and so she falls deeper and deeper into it. The people around her notice that she’s unhappy, but they don’t see to which extent. And they decide to ignore her moods instead of confronting her about them because whenever they do she shuts herself off and withdraws.

”I’m not in a biscuit mood today.”
“Well, I’m still coming over, Tori.”
“You don’t have to come over. I’m completely fine.”
“Don’t lie.”

The only person that calls her out on her bullshit and challenges her is Michael Holden, because Michael Holden knows how she feels. He gets her in a way no one else does because he’s angry about a lot of things and he doesn’t know how to get rid of that anger. He learned to cope with it and to live with it, but it’s never truly gone.

Just like a depression, of course you can have good phases in which you’re not depressive and feel positive and good about the world, but there’s always the risk of falling back into a depression. It starts slowly and then more and more things happen and in the end you spiral so hard you can’t get out of it anymore. At least not without any help. And just in case you wondered, yes I’ve a background in psychology, which is probably the reason why I got what Alice Oseman was trying to do with this book. I’m pretty certain the 50% that came out loving “Solitaire” either have a background like that too or they themselves went through it as well. We can relate to Tori, we can understand why she is the way she is and therefore see the book for what it is and what it’s trying to tell us. I’m not saying that the other 50% that disliked the book were wrong, there’s no right or wrong when it comes to things like that, I’m just trying to explain that they probably never had to fight depression and don’t know the signs. If you’ve never dealt with depression and read this book you’ll most definitely think that it’s a super dark one, that everything in Tori’s life is shitty and mediocre and that the book has absolutely no storyline or central theme. Well, for me it does because it shows how Tori lives with her depression and tries to fight it with self-irony, dark humour and by holding onto the good moments in life.

“I don't want people to try and understand why I'm the way I am, because I should be the first person to understand that. And I don't understand yet. I don't want people to interfere. I don't want people in my head, picking out this and that, permanently picking up the broken pieces of me."

All the things that happen in the book are what lead to the ending. No matter if it’s the sudden appearance of Michael Holden and Lucas Ryan or the mystery about Solitaire that runs through the entire book like a golden thread. No matter if it’s Tori’s complicated relationship with her mother and friends or her closeness to Charlie and the things she had to witness. They all come together in the end and they collide. I guess you could say all those things and especially Michael Holden and Solitaire work as some sort of catalyst that inevitably leads us to the ending of the story. Just like a musical crescendo. It builds and builds until it finally explodes.

He chuckles again and rubs his eyes. “You do know me.” And he’s right. I do know him. Just because someone smiles doesn’t mean that they’re happy.

As for the way Tori sees her world, I was surprised that despite everything she witnessed with Charlie she still thought that he had a great life and that he’s popular. Sometimes reading her POV felt like I missed a memo, because Charlie certainly wouldn’t have been driven to do the things he did if his life would have been as perfect as Tori thought it was. Then again that discrepancy and stark contrast of what Tori saw and what was the actual truth only emphasized the inconsistency of her perception of the world. (Uff, I never meant that review to turn out so factual and technical. Sorry! XD)

”And you would think that it would be someone like Nick who was at the top of Truham – loud, attractive, house captain, rugby player. But no. It’s Charlie.
What I’m trying to say is that Charlie is a nice person and, despite everything I’ve just explained, everybody seems to love him. And I think that is a modern miracle.”

On a different note: It’s good to know Ben Hope is still a hopeless case (pun totally intended) and as horrible as ever. The things he said to Charlie. Wow. Internalized homophobia that turns against yourself is really bad and if that boy doesn’t come to terms with his sexuality soon he’s going to be in a really bad place. I don’t know if Alice Oseman will ever address his character development but for Ben Hope’s sake I genuinely hope that he’ll have an epiphany one day. This said the last thing I need to address and want to talk about is that it says: “This is not a love story.” on the blurb and I think that this is something that’s up for debate. I personally think that it might not look like one, but that it actually IS one. Or in different words: It isn’t until it is?! *lol* Do with that statement what you want. ;-P


Honestly if you read this entire review and followed my reasoning you deserve a medal. I never intended this to be such a serious review but I guess “Solitaire” tackled a couple of serious topics and after reading some of the other reviews I wanted to give my two cents as someone who has a little background knowledge in psychology. So the burning question is: Was “Solitaire” as good as all of Alice Oseman’s other books?
And my candid answer is: Yes and no. I think you just can’t compare it to any of her other works because for one thing it’s her debut novel and for another it’s an entirely different writing style. At least for me it is, because it’s extremely immersive and you see the world through Tori’s perspective and POV. Of course you could argue that you do that with every book and MC you read about but I think this time it was different. You saw the darkness with Tori’s eyes and yes, this is unpleasant, it doesn’t make you happy, it drags you down; it makes it a chore to get through the book and it’s exactly the reason why I think “Solitaire” is brilliant in its own way. I’m a sanguine person, but I appreciated to get a different glimpse at the world and it’s always good to put yourself in someone else’s shoes. A little bit of sensitivity never hurt anyone. With this in mind: Four stars. No more and no less.


This book was definitely different than I expected it to be.
It’s interesting that this was Alice Oseman’s debut. Tori is a rather difficult character to like but I know why she is the way she is so that made it easier to understand her struggles.
Also it says: This is not a love story, and I suppose it isn’t until it is? *lol*

Full RTC soon! =) Need to think this through.


Apparently my ass didn’t get kicked enough by the lovely goodreads community because here I am starting a new book! *lol* Yes, you read right!
I’m reading “Solitaire” and I really hope this will be the last book I’m picking up this year, because otherwise there’s no way I’ll finish everything that’s still on my “currently reading”.
I’ve been curious about Tori Spring’s story for ages now though, so that’s what we’re going with. ;-P

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Profile Image for kai | 凯香.
373 reviews46 followers
April 4, 2020
1.5* and the .5 is because alice’s books are always really easy to read and quick to get through which is what i wanted.
and typically i save 1 stars for books that are problematic and this one certainly is, but at least i read it fast without problem ig

aaanyway never mind the strange plot points where people keep interacting with tori and choosing to hang out with her or asking her to do stuff for them even though she treats everyone like utter trash (and no, depression and self-hatred isn’t an excuse to be a judgmental asshole to everyone else)
here are the cons
- tori is not like other girls
- filled with pop culture references every other page, i don’t like when authors do this
- suicide jokes aren’t funny
- calling michael mentally disturbed because he’s ‘weird’ is not funny
- charlie also called michael mentally disturbed
- the amount of times someone “blinks” as a reaction
- the girl on girl hate jfc drop that trope
- do not compare “coming out” to your book-loving father as a book hater to coming out to homophobic parents.
- tori literally just thinks her supposed best friend is a dumbass bitch, and not in a funny way
- stop saying “it’s funny because it’s true” it’s not funny. i’m bored.
- having tori hate on this particular girl the whole time for no real reason other than tori’s super judgmental and then revealing her be the antagonist really just ain’t the message we want to be sending
- speaking of, tori’s constant hate and shaming of other girls for actually putting in effort to how they look is never really acknowledged and called out on
- tori also goes through a total amount of 0 character development
- everyone is one dimensional

- nick and charlie
- that’s it

in all seriousness, alice’s books are really easy to get through and read when you don’t want to think too much, but her climactic endings are always, Always, so over the top.
i’ve now read everything alice has released and i think it’s safe to say i’ll read anything she writes, but that doesn’t mean her books are all really that great imo
i definitely think alice has improved as a writer, but I Was Born For This, her newest book as of now, didn’t blow me away. so i’m looking forward to see how Loveless will turn out because i know she’s been working really hard on it!
Profile Image for sarah.
392 reviews261 followers
December 16, 2020
"There comes a point, though, when you can't keep looking after other people anymore. You have to start looking after yourself."

Solitaire is Alice Oseman's debut novel, and as such the place I decided to begin with her full length works. (I have already read some of her Heartstopper webcomic, but none of her books) I had heard pretty mediocre things about this one compared to some of her others, so decided it would be a good place to start, as to gently increase my expectations and not be too disappointed.

Solitaire is a YA contemporary about mental health, teenage malaise, and maybe even a little bit of romance (despite the tagline). For the first 100 or so pages, I really was not enjoying it. I found the protagonist Tori to be obnoxious and unlikeable. But after that point, the book slowly grew on me until I was genuinely invested in the fate of our characters- even Tori.

Alice Oseman wrote Solitaire when she was only 17, which I find incredibly impressive and motivating. The writing clearly and realistically captures the thoughts of teenagers, both the good and the bad. While the writing style was arguably simplistic and nothing special- it was engaging and easy to read.

The thing that got me the most invested in the story was the side plot regarding Tori's brother Charlie and his boyfriend Nick. While this may seem like a good thing, it actually stemmed from my preexisting love for those characters via the Heartstopper comics, and not this book. Regardless, I was engrossed in that plot line from the beginning and thought it was handled well (although definitely look at the trigger warnings which you can find here).

“All I know is that I’m here. And I’m alive. And I’m not alone.”

However, I didn't really care that much about the overarching plot line/mystery introduced. It definitely took a backseat to character and relationship development- which while not necessarily a bad thing- made the book end up feeling like it tried to do too many things.

Overall, I am neither disappointed nor particularly impressed. I mostly read this to begin my journey into Alice Oseman's backlist and finally read Radio Silence, which I now probably have too high expectations for. That being said, Icannot wait to see how this author's writing evolves and grows in future books!
Profile Image for Anna (Enchanted by YA).
360 reviews350 followers
June 12, 2015
To go into a book with no expectations and then come out disappointed is an impressive feat. But not a good one.
The writing may have been relateable but the protagonist was not. By the end of the book I honest to god couldn't stand her and it made what could have been an interesting book with powerful messages, painful to read.
Profile Image for Eva B..
1,225 reviews313 followers
April 8, 2023
If you want to know the truth, the Catcher in the Rye is one of my favorite books of all time, and so I was a bit suspicious of the blurb of this one. Publishers always wanna compare books about teenage sadness and mental health to Catcher, and I always sort of raise my eyebrows at that. See, they always wanna reel in readers by comparing contemporaries to famous books, and then you read the book and it's pretty goddamn phony. But Solitaire?

Solitaire is not a perfect book. I mean, no book is a perfect book, but old Solitaire definitely has flaws. Michael Holden is sort of a manic pixie dream boy for most of it, Evelyn is sort of there to be the early 2010s mean girl, and it's pretty unrealistic with the bigger pranks and all. I'm not kidding, the final prank was unrealistic as hell, and you can definitely tell that Solitaire is a phony organization.

But I don't think I've ever read a modern YA contemporary that hit me quite like Solitaire did. See, at the risk of getting too personal, I'm not afraid of dying. Never have been. But I am afraid of dying without doing anything worthwhile in my life. I mean living as a sort of passive observer in the world and never doing a single goddamn thing to change it.

As you can probably guess, I really felt for Tori. She's one of the one-in-a-million contemporary YA female leads that is allowed to be harsh, and self-loathing, and, at the bottom of it all, scared. And while my mental health is generally better now, Tori felt like me a few years ago. Tori felt like me in my worst moments. Tori shows the inelegant side of mental health that's usually brushed over in the name of romanticization, because you can't have your dEeP aNd hAuNtiNg romance with suicide for shock factor if you focus on the unromanticized bit. That probably didn't make much sense in writing. It didn't make too much sense in my head, and this review is sort of a goddamn rambly mess, but what I'm trying to say is that even with its flaws, Solitaire felt raw . It felt real. It felt unpolished and I think that's why I loved it so much and why I love Catcher and why I love old Alice Oseman in general. Solitaire won't be for everyone, but God, Solitaire felt like it was written for me.
Profile Image for Sara.
369 reviews322 followers
August 9, 2020
I read this after i read Radio Silence but i wish I'd read it first.
The two books are set in the same world just a couple years apart and there are a lot of nods to this in Radio Silence.
That being said i think i did enjoy Solitaire more, the character was more relatable to me and i found myself far more interested in the major plot points of this story.
Once again Alice's writing is great and I think this is a great story for a younger generation.
Profile Image for Xandra (StarrySkyBooks).
120 reviews150 followers
May 1, 2022
I definitely have a lot of different things to say about this book... but I'm just not sure how to put it into words.

I understand that the main character is supposed to dealing with bad mental health, but a lot of her comments just crossed the line and were never addressed, which made it just uncomfortable to read and possibly triggering. I know Alice Oseman has gotten better about handling these subjects, though. Her other books are just better.
Profile Image for cameron.
145 reviews703 followers
April 29, 2021
3.5??4?? i have conflicting feelings on this book. on one hand, i am like ?? did alice oseman literally write tori based on high school me?? but i am now understanding why no one liked me in high school. it has a really great message and i always am happy to read books with accurate rep of depression & suicidal thoughts to help end the stigma. but there was awkward dialogue and references, and i mean,,, it was So Dramatic. but tori and michael were fun to read about and of course a different pov of charlie was interesting. i know alice is editing this book so i’ll be interested in reading what she changes!
Profile Image for Ashley.
667 reviews716 followers
Shelved as 'dnf'
September 24, 2014
Nose Graze — Book reviews & blogging tips

I stopped reading this book at 27%.

Let's talk about Solitaire

In the book, Solitaire is some kind of blog/prankster group. We learn pretty quickly that their blog URL is http://solitaire.co.uk . My first thought (which continued to bug me throughout the book) was: "There's no way this domain name would be available." I'm pretty sure every non-obscure dictionary word is taken at this point (at least with the original and most common TLDs, like .com, .net, .co.uk). And solitaire.co.uk was in fact registered about five years ago.

I know this is a STUPID ASS thing to be annoyed about, but I couldn't get it to stop nagging me. That kind of stuff bugs me... #nerd.

But beyond that, Solitaire (the group) didn't excite me. I know I only read to 27%, which isn't that far, but they just seemed like a stupid group who thought highly of themselves. And to make things even worse, some of the "hacking" things they did just seemed too far-fetched. Solitaire has basically "hacked" the whole school. They do all these pranks by messing with the speakers, TVs, and computers. At one point in the book, they somehow lock Tori inside a room, take control of a computer, open up Microsoft Word, type a message, and manage to disable keyboard/mouse inputs (so Tori bashing the keyboard doesn't do anything). This was all done remotely.

I thought this seemed VERY unlikely. Sure, it might be possible to hack in and remote desktop into a computer if you knew the exact one and were familiar with the system, but the circumstances just seemed too far-fetched. Especially when Tori tried bashing on the keyboard and got no response. So I decided to consult Coding God on this matter. I told him about the circumstances and mentioned it's a school (that's important). He says:

[The hackers] would need to find an exploit [the system] is vulnerable to, even though it's not likely running any services. Most schools are running firewall/antivirus and aren't listening for incoming connections. It would be very difficult/improbable. Basically, if it was up to date on patches as well then no way. Unless those kids have zero day exploits that most experts are dying to find. :P
Coding God: software engineer with a degree in computer science

I know this is a fiction book and it doesn't have to be accurate. But when I read a contemporary book, I don't like having improbably or even fantasy-like elements in there. I guess it's just hard for me because I am a tech nerd and I like the hacking I read in books to sound reasonable, or at least have the steps/actions explained. Fair enough that maybe they're explained later on and I just didn't get that far... but in the moment it did annoy me and made the book less enjoyable.

Oh, then, at 24% a character got on the computer and opened up Internet Explorer. I mean, seriously? Internet Explorer? Kill me now. And if there are any readers out there who do use IE, please switch to Chrome or Firefox immediately. (I'm not kidding. IE sucks and is commonly known to be the worst browser out there. Do yourself a favour and switch.)

Tori is one bitter bitch

This main character (Tori) was one of the most unlikeable characters I've read in a long time. She was bitter, bitchy, and pessimistic. It's like she didn't know how to smile or laugh, but she was an expert on being judgemental and looking down on people.

"Everyone else sucks! I'm the only real person in the world!"

I think this might have been the most frustrating part of Solitaire for me. Tori is bitter. She's pessimistic and judgemental. She doesn't seem to like people at all. She walks around with this "I'm better than you because I don't conform" attitude. I felt like she looked down on EVERYONE and it was exhausting.

The large majority of teenagers who attend Higgs are soulless, conformist idiots. I have successfully integrated myself into a small group of girls who I consider to be "good people," but sometimes I still feel that I might be the only person with a consciousness, like a video game protagonist, and everyone else are computer-generated extras who have only a select few actions, such as "initiate meaningless conversation" and "hug."

She even kind of admits how bitter, pessimistic, and boring she is when she says this at one point:

"Can you imagine me being excited about anything?"

"My mom is so annoying so I'm going to be a bitch to her"

Tori had such a weird relationship with her mom. I don't know if there was a bad history there or what, but she was kind of a bitch to her. I didn't think it was 'cool' or necessary. It just made her look even more annoying and bitchy.

"Tori," says Mum, "Oliver should have been in bed an hour ago."
Oliver doesn't seem to hear her. I glance up from the race.
"That's not really my job," I say.

"I like to snap at people for no reason"

This character Lucas gets introduced and he and Tori used to be best friends. So he starts talking about how much she's changed since he last knew her, and she decides to be all snappy and bitchy to him, just because. In fact, she seems pretty snappy to him throughout the whole book (that I read). But poor Lucas was never anything but nice.

"You're so different," he says [...]. "You're more serious."
[...] "I'm, well, I am probably the least funny person since Margaret Thatcher."
"No, but you were always dreaming up all these imaginary games. Like our Pokémon battles. Or the secret base you made out of the cornered-off section of the playground."
"Would you like to have a Pokémon battle?" I fold my arms. "Or am I too unimaginative for that?"
"No." He's digging himself into a hole, and it's actually quite funny to watch. "I—oh, I don't know."

"Sometimes I do stupid, pointless things for no reason"

At one point, Tori gets recruited to be part of kind of a campus lookout type programme. Solitaire is pranking the school and they want students to patrol the school and be on the lookout for them (break-ins, suspicious behaviour, etc.). So the leader gives Tori her number just in case she sees anything while on her watch and...

"Here's my number."
I nod at her and go to walk off.
"Er, Tori?"
"You look a bit—" She doesn't finish her sentence.
It's 7:00 a.m. She can piss off.
I walk away, throwing the piece of paper in a bin as I pass it.

So she throws away the number immediately. Then when she DOES see something, she doesn't have the number to call the girl. Then she decides not to tell her anyway. Yeah, stupid.

"I hate books because they're boring"

I think this was the final straw for me Tori-wise. She admits that she hates books.

Coming out as a book hater to my dad is comparable to coming out as gay to homophobic parents.

It was at that point that I realized: I love books! Why should I waste my time reading about a bitter bitch who hates them?

Please, make it end!

I spent like three days just getting to the 27% mark. Tori was incredibly unlikeable and there was nothing in the plot or other characters that hooked me in. I had no desire to keep reading and every desire to start Take Me On by Katie McGarry. So long, Solitaire.
Profile Image for jut.
473 reviews168 followers
December 29, 2022
“I don’tever remember not being serious. As far as I’m concerned, I came out of the womb spouting cynicism and wishing for rain”

or maybe...you're just annoying, tori! but all (or most) teenagers are, so that's okay!
but this book was a completely mess and a waste of my time, i get that alice wrote it when they were 17 but whole shit, just....wattpad level!
Profile Image for Zitong Ren.
504 reviews153 followers
January 7, 2020
From what I know, this is Alice Oseman’s Debut novel, and compared to her other books that I have read of hers, which are Radio Silence and I Was Born For This, this book does not live up to the quality of those two books. I was excited to start this one since I loved those two books and comparing these two to this book is that I can certainly say that she has improved greatly as a writer.

Now, I’m not one that reads many contemporary novels, and as such, I may be sprouting absolute rubbish in my review, and for that, I apologise. I would simply like to start with the fact that the entire book was a bit weird and there’s no real plot or anything really as to what is actually going on, which left me a the reader not knowing what the entire objective of the book was. Many things also don’t make a whole lot of sense as to why such a thing happened, or even how, some of the events in this book occurred as the reasoning from some characters feel really poor. Almost as if the author didn’t know but needed it to work and was just like, here you go, I know this doesn’t make sense but deal with it.

If I am being honest, the character development with the main character was very minimal, whenever there appeared to have some change occurring from her depressive state, she simply went back again, which I understand that the author is trying to show a character battling depression. The thing is, was that I would have liked to maybe see her slowly come out of it, or even to slowly accept for who she is, which would have been nice instead of from what we got.

Now, like I mentioned above, the entire story really does not go anywhere, maybe except for the very end, despite how overly dramatic and perhaps slightly unrealistic it was. It just feels like a mindless collection of parties, going to school and all that, which, probably might have been fine if the reader was given some character progression, which didn’t really happen all that much. Everyone was where they had started from the beginning of the book, except for the last fifty odd pages. Leaving it to the end is great and all, but I normally need something else to compel me on instead of just a book that is essentially ‘day in the life.’

Also, wow, they are lots of annoying characters that seem to be there for the sake of being annoying to show how bad the character’s state is in. Some of the actions from the characters honestly had me slightly perplexed though this may have been exemplified by the unreliable narration from a character that is ultimately depressed.

While I have really enjoyed two other contemporaries by this author, this one ultimately fell a bit flat for me. 5.5/10
Profile Image for April (Aprilius Maximus).
1,092 reviews6,576 followers
February 7, 2017
TW: self-harm, suicidal thoughts, eating disorder triggers.

I had a lot of problems with this book, but since I am currently on holidays, I will go into more depth at a later date!
Profile Image for Swaye .
187 reviews38 followers
January 13, 2018
If I could give this book minus stars I would.

There's no plot, just a list of references with a whole lot of diet lemonade to fill in the spaces between.

DNF'd at 51% because
Profile Image for Prabhjot Kaur.
1,046 reviews148 followers
January 30, 2021
My first Alice Oseman read.

Tori Spring is in sixth form but she hates school. She has a best friend, Becky. When she follows post-it notes to a computer room, she meets Michael Holden in that same room who also followed post-it notes to get there. Michael tells her that a blonde boy was looking for her. Then Tori meets Lucas Ryan (the blonde boy) whom she hadn't seen for years and who used to be her only friend before Becky. On that same day she discovers a blog called, Solitaire.

Solitaire turns out to be a notorious blogger who keeps hacking into their school system and pulls up pranks. Solitaire also gets a huge following. Everyone starts to look forward to their upcoming pranks. The school staff tries to investigate but come up empty handed. Meanwhile, Michael tries to be friends with Tori. Lucas also tries to be friends with Tori like they used to be friends but Tori keeps avoiding him.

Tori has two younger brothers Oliver and Charlie. It is revealed that Charlie had attempted suicide some time ago and he also has eating disorder. Charlie has a boyfriend, Nick who is mostly with him. When Tori mentions Michael Holden's name, they both warn her not to get close with him as there's something wrong with him. But still Michael and Tori end up spending a lot of time together and Tori even starts to like being in his company.

When Becky starts to go out with Ben Hope, Becky and Tori drift away from each other. Ben beats Charlie in his school and Tori, Becky, Lucas, Michael and Nick all witness this and Tori expects Becky not to be with Ben anymore. But then at one of the Solitaire events, Tori sees Becky with Ben and she just loses it at Becky and storms off. She also says hurtful stuff to Michael and Lucas. She apologizes to Michael and they start spending time with each other again and then she finds out that Michael is in a tournament and he has this whole other life in skating.

We end up finding out who Solitaire is and it is a group that was started by Lucas Ryan when he saw Tori playing Solitaire on a school computer and heard her muttering, I hate myself over and over again. Because Lucas thought that he was in love with Tori at the time and he thought that the school was responsible for Tori's unhappiness so he wanted to play pranks on the school and brighten peoples' lives but the whole thing got out of hand and then he ends up confessing to Tori on Michael's insistence. A guy, Quiff and a girl, Evelyn from their school are also part of Solitaire and in the end they both want to burn down the school and actually succeed in burning down the school. That's also where Tori thinks of jumping to death but Michael tells her that they both need each other and they end up kissing.

I don't know why the blurb says, this isn't a love story because that's pretty much what it is. Tori and Michael both find solace in each other's company and well end up together anyway so that's just false advertisement.

Tori makes a lot of stuff in her head and then she gets sad about it. She loves to sleep and blog and she lies for no reason. She is also a pessimist and introvert psychopath and she admits all this and I agree with her. In the beginning, I liked Tori but as I kept on reading, I found her to be an asshole quite frankly. Michael keeps trying to be friends with her and she keeps shutting him down and when he doesn't try, she keeps wondering and waiting for him and then apologize to him. It happened repeatedly. Something similar happens with Lucas as well, he keeps trying with her, she keeps avoiding him and when he avoids her, she goes and rudely interrupts and asks him in front of other people why is he avoiding her? Seriously? The only time I felt sorry for her was when I realized her parents are the worst as they don't care at all other than that I couldn't like her. I tried. Like other reviewers, I also think that she has depression and that should have been acknowledged.

I haven't read anything else by this author so this is the first time I have read about Nick and Charlie and whilst I didn't mind Nick, I am not too sure about Charlie. I am planning to read Heartstopper and few other things from this author so may be my opinion will change about Charlie but right now I don't know. Becky and Lucas were kinda okay but I don't know how I feel about them either. The only character that I liked was Michael. He was amazing. He didn't have any friends and that's why he wanted to be friends with Tori but the way she treated him was appalling.

This book comes without any trigger warnings as it touches a lot of sensitive subjects which is irresponsible on author's part. The author wrote this when she was a teenager and it shows. The writing wasn't engaging and the plot was non-existent. The main reason I actually finished reading this book was because I have ordered a lot of other books from this author and do plan to read those. The other reason was that I wanted to know about Solitaire's end game. I do hope that I have better luck with other books from this author.

1 star
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