Summer camp is supposed to be about finding nirvana in a rock garden… But Elodie prefers Nirvana and Soundgarden. Can she confront rambunctious kids, confusing feelings, and supernatural horrors all at once?
Summer 1994: with just two months left before college, Elodie is forced by her mother to take a job as a camp counselor. She doesn’t know the first thing about nature, or sports, of kids for that matter, and isn’t especially interested in learning… but now she’s responsible for a foul-mouthed horde of red-headed girls who just might win her over, whether she likes it or not. Just as Elodie starts getting used to her new environment, though — and close to one of the other counselors — a dark mystery lurking around the camp begins to haunt her dreams.
I started reading Camp Spirit because I’m eager to read more diverse graphic novels and was able to access this via my local library through the Hoopla app. This book is set in the year I was born, so I was interested to see what the setting would be like–especially because I’ve never gone to summer camp. Something I’m thankful about–I think I would have been as against it as our main character Elodie is when she’s forced to work at the camp for the summer. Her last summer before heading off to college.
For most of the book, this seems like a pretty typical coming of age story. Elodie leads a group of unruly campers and makes reluctant friends with the other counselors, particularly a girl who is incredibly annoying and definitely not cute. Sure, things are kind of strange. The school songs are rather ominous. It feels like something is lurking in the words. And there’s that weird camp legend . . .
I loved how the paranormal elements of this book slowly build in the background. For a while, you don’t know what’s just Elodie’s overworking imagination in this new environment, and what’s actually out to get her. I loved that all of the fantastical elements here are so unique, like nothing I’ve ever read before. So I’m eager to get my hands on a sequel!
Camp Spirit is a lot of fun, with great LGBTQ+ representation, a sarcastic main character, and a unique plot. I really recommend it!
Elle and her friends Mads, Jenny, and Summer rule their glittering LA circle. Untouchable, they have the kind of power other girls only dream of. Every party is theirs and the world is at their feet. Until the night of Elle’s sweet sixteen, when they crash a St. Andrew’s Prep party. The night the golden boys choose Elle as their next target.
They picked the wrong girl.
Sworn to vengeance, Elle transfers to St. Andrew’s. She plots to destroy each boy, one by one. She’ll take their power, their lives, and their control of the prep school’s hierarchy. And she and her coven have the perfect way in: a boy named Mack, whose ambition could turn deadly.
Foul is Fair is a bloody, thrilling revenge fantasy for the girls who have had enough. Golden boys beware: something wicked this way comes.
This book is badass. Foul is Fair is brutal and beautiful.
I was lucky enough to receive an ARC from Wednesday Books in exchange for my honest review. Yes, this book doesn’t come out until February. Yes, I started reading this as soon as I got my hands on it because I couldn’t resist the urge to find out what Foul is Fair is all about.
Before page one, content and trigger warnings are printed for readers. I hope that Foul is Fair is setting a precedent, because this is something that is so important to include. Wednesday Books might be starting one of the best trends to happen in literature.
Elle goes to a party. Something terrible happens at the party. Elle begins to call herself Jade. Jade plots her revenge.
Foul is Fair is truly a revenge fantasy for girls who are tired with boys getting away with their crimes. It is dark, it certainly doesn’t hold back, it screams and attacks for every girl out there who’s ever been kept silent. It certainly isn’t like anything I’ve ever read before.
It does require a little suspension of disbelief. This book is a retelling of Macbeth (which, I’ve just realized, isn’t mentioned in the book summary?) and if you keep thinking about it within that context, you’re fine. However, the book does take place over the span of three weeks (at most) so if you think of it within a contemporary context, it makes less sense. It happens so fast. If there had just been a few chapters in the middle that said Jade wormed her way into the lives of her enemies over even a few months, it would have been infinitely more believable.
The writing is so incredibly beautiful–enough to make me not really care about the timeline. Which is saying a lot, because usually I rail against insta-love, even in retellings. Hannah Capin has the kind of writing that is *chef kiss* delicious. I want to read anything she’s ever written or will write; I want to sink into these beautiful words that talk about such dark themes. You all know I’m not the biggest fan of books set in a contemporary world. I feel like Hannah Capin could write about anything, she’s so good. Maybe this also plays into why I didn’t mind the rushed timeline so much; as a reader, you’re so in tune with Jade’s thoughts that you understand her completely. Her motivations. Her fears, that she tries to hide from even herself.
I’m sorry so many of you are going to have to wait so long to read this book, because I want to discuss it with all of you right now. It’s unique. It’s amazing to see this badass girl pulling all the strings. And it’s very satisfying. Foul is Fair is fairly brilliant.
Fifteen-year-old Simran “Simi” Sangha comes from a long line of Indian vichole-matchmakers-with a rich history for helping parents find good matches for their grown children. When Simi accidentally sets up her cousin and a soon-to-be lawyer, her family is thrilled that she has the “gift.”
But Simi is an artist, and she doesn’t want to have anything to do with relationships, helicopter parents, and family drama. That is, until she realizes this might be just the thing to improve her and her best friend Noah’s social status. Armed with her family’s ancient guide to finding love, Simi starts a matchmaking service-via an app, of course.
But when she helps connect a wallflower of a girl with the star of the boys’ soccer team, she turns the high school hierarchy topsy-turvy, soon making herself public enemy number one.
Disclosure: I received an ARC of this book at Book Con.
A Match Made in Mehendi is a cute, light read following Simi, who isn’t quite sure that she wants to join the family matchmaking business because she dreams of becoming an artist. As a way to sort of test her interest and also gauge if she’s any good at matchmaking, she works with her friends to design an app that uses all of her family’s techniques to pair individuals. The dating app only works at her school and Simi personally has a hand in every match that occurs.
I can truly say that I’ve never read anything like this! A Match Made in Mehendi has modern high school drama with the technology components, while also doing a callback to the past with Simi’s more ‘traditional’ family business–old school, meeting prospective matches in person, and everything is written out on paper (Simi struggles with those filing cabinets and I sympathize). There’s a blending of generational differences, a blending of cultures–and Simi is struggling to find her way through it all, so it’s as relatable as any coming-of-age story.
However, it takes a lot for me to fall in love with contemporary novels, and I don’t think the characters were unique enough in this one for me to ever consider it for a reread. Simi is someone I think a lot of teens will see themselves in, but the cast around her falls flat as they really only exist to support her and don’t stand well on their own. At times, things happen to other characters seemingly only so we can get Simi’s reaction, and then we never see the follow-through or consequences. The plot threads are dropped, and while it was interesting that there were so many in a relatively short book, it would have been better to have them condensed so that nothing would end up getting left behind after a few chapters.
The writing in this book was very simplistic, so I think it would appeal most to the younger spectrum of YA readers. There were never any really biting bits of dialogue, or paragraphs that jumped out as particularly meaningful. The text said what was happening, and who was saying what, but never explored Simi’s emotions any more deeply than that. Disappointing, when we get the entire book from her perspective.
However, unlike so many YA novels coming out right now, this was a fun book to read and pretty happy overall. Yes, there are deeper themes explored, such as bullying, but they’re done nicely in a way that isn’t quite as depressing or melodramatic as other current contemporary novels. Simi goes through a lot but never really lets it get her down, and it’s refreshing to have such a positive main character.
So, if you’re looking for a light, fluffy read–overall, this might be the one for you.
Book Con 2019 took place on June 1 and 2! It was an amazing time, definitely the best one yet, and my fifth time attending the convention. I know that I’m incredibly lucky to be able to go to Book Con, and I was so excited by all that this year would bring!
This was my first year attending both days of the event, as usually I only go for that Saturday (which I’ve generally heard is the more crowded day and found that to be true)! I’ve never gone to BookExpo, which takes place right before Book Con. One day!
For those of you who weren’t able to attend (or who did and want to see what I was doing throughout the day while you were running to your own events!) here’s a little recap!
DAY 1: JUNE 1
Both days I arrived at the convention center around 8:15, as I didn’t see any real need to get there any earlier and have to wait outside of the building.
The actual day doesn’t start until 10, but waiting in line is a great way to meet fellow book friends (new ones, or ones you may have found through the book community–I had the pleasure of meeting up with many friends from bookstagram over the weekend!).
It’s sort of mass chaos once the floor opens and they let the waiting line of booknerds in. We immediately tried to head to Erin Morgenstern’s signing and just missed getting tickets for it. Penguin was handing them out haphazardly to whoever crowded closest so a little more organization would have been nice. As a consolation, though, they brought over Erin to say hello so we still had the pleasure of meeting her!
Once her line was closed we skipped over to what I initially thought was an arc drop and was technically only half right–it was a signing for Natasha Ngan’s Girls of Storm and Shadow (we got the full arc and I’m still screaming) and a sampler for Kerri Maniscalco’s next book Capturing the Devil. It was so great to meet them and I cannot wait to read!!
While waiting in that line and directly afterward I had the chance to explore the show floor a little (this is why it’s helpful to have someone in line with you AFTER you’re given tickets, so your place in line is already accounted for) (don’t be that person who meets their friend in line after it was formed an hour ago and makes someone at the end miss out because you line cut!). There are always fun wheels to spin, independent publishers to check out, and cute photo ops.
Because you have to have something to post later on Instagram, right?
Also at the Novl booth I waited to play a game where you pull out a lollipop from a stand and whatever color is on the bottom of the stick, that’s the arc that you win! I was lucky enough to win an arc of A Match Made in Mehendi, and the author, Nandini Bajpai, happened to be there signing books for people who won hers! It was great to meet her.
After a break for lunch, I went back at it again. Susan Dennard had a little meetup in the food court area of the convention for fans to hang out and chat.
Then it was time for my autographing tickets–signings I’d been guaranteed before the convention started. If you didn’t know, a few weeks before Book Con you can sign up for two signings per day and have a chance to meet some of the more popular authors. Some of these tickets can be incredibly hard to snag and sell out within seconds!
I was lucky enough to grab a ticket to meet Rachel Hawkins and Melissa de la Cruz. I’ve read their books before and love them, but didn’t actually own any so it didn’t bother me that a book purchase was necessary for the signing. I haven’t read either of the books I ended up getting (Prince Charming and Alex and Eliza) so I’m excited to read!
After that the line was already forming for my next signing for Eoin Colfer so I decided to join it so I could be toward the front for it. I’m glad that I did, because he definitely took his time chatting to everyone who had tickets for his signing and ended up going over his posted time!
After that there was time to wander the floor a little more and check out the marketplace (basically a few rows of Etsy-esque shops selling book merch) and random booths like one themed for the Netflix show She-Ra, which holds my heart.
DAY 2: JUNE 2
Day 2 was definitely less attended BUT the problem with that is there are also less events scheduled. That means the lines were just as long as Saturday’s, because there were less people trying to cram into a lesser number of lines. Some booths were packing up as early as 2PM!
First stop for today was the I Read YA event that took place in the Scholastic Meeting Room. Basically, it’s a magical place where you’re on an assembly line of authors signing their books for you (or in the case with Maggie Stiefvater, a chapter sampler) before you get book swag, and CANDY. I definitely want to do this again next year. You need to get in line imMEDIATELY AS THE SHOW OPENS and the event doesn’t start until 11, but we got 3 arcs, chapter samplers, and the experience of a lifetime ;).
After some lunch and exploring the show floor, I got in line for another lollipop game. This one was hosted by Riveted by Simon Teen and you weren’t guaranteed to win anything. What surer way is there to make a bunch of booknerds angry besides making them wait in a half hour line and possibly come up empty-handed? Luck was on my side however and I picked the lollipop that won me an arc of She’s the Worst by Lauren Spieller.
Afterward were my ticketed author signings–Meg Cabot, and Holly Black! I met Holly last year as well and she’s so sweet. Both have written some of my favorite books and it was amazing to get to meet them!
Overall I absolutely loved my Book Con experience. I think I would have loved it even if my focus this year hadn’t been on meeting up with bookstagram friends I wouldn’t otherwise get to see–everything else was kind of an extra bonus on top of that. There are definitely still problems with messy ticketing systems and confusing lines that the convention can work on refining, but I love to see how it has grown every year and can’t wait to see what next year brings! See you May 30 and 31, 2020!
Were you at Book Con this year? Will you go next year? Let me know!
memorable quote : So I do what any self-respecting person would: I go after her screaming.
A fiercely funny, queer romantic comedy about two girls who can’t stand each other, but join forces in a grand feminist hoax to expose harassment and inequality at their elite private school.
Harriet Price is the perfect student: wealthy, smart, over-achieving. Will Everhart, on the other hand, is a troublemaker who’s never met an injustice she didn’t fight. When their swim coach’s inappropriate behavior is swept under the rug, the unlikely duo reluctantly team up to expose his misdeeds, pulling provocative pranks and creating the instantly legendary Amelia Westlake–an imaginary student who helps right the many wrongs of their privileged institution. But as tensions burn throughout their school–who is Amelia Westlake?–and between Harriet and Will, how long can they keep their secret? How far will they go to make a difference? And when will they realize they’re falling for each other?
Award-winning author Erin Gough’s Amelia Westlake Was Never Here is a funny, smart, and all-too-timely story of girls fighting back against power and privilege–and finding love while they’re at it.
This is the contemporary high school story I didn’t know I was waiting for.
Amelia Westlake Was Never Here tells the story of two girls who become unlikely allies in an attempt to shake things up at their boarding school. Will has always been a little unconventional and a lot into politics. Harriet is more likely to suck up to her teachers than to stand up against something. When the two agree that something is not quite right at their school, they start an anonymous campaign together and begin by targeting their sexist, creeping gym teacher. They create Amelia Westlake, a fake student who pulls harmless pranks to point out terrible things that are happening which the school is attempting to sweep it all under the rug.
Will and Harriet’s dynamic is hilarious, and frustrating, and perfect. The story is told in their alternating points of view. Will’s perspective is always quick, moving forward recklessly and without thought. Harriet’s is more restrained, as she forces the world around her to bend to her will, and the way she words things is stiff and filled with superfluous vocabulary words. I love it. It’s so rare to see a book so easily dive into the heads of two very different characters and have the writing style change to adapt to each personality.
This story is about teenagers, and the amazing thing about it is it speaks about real issues people in high school encounter—real, terrifying issues—and it never talks down about these girls. There’s never a moment where the book seems to doubt they’re capable of fighting against the injustice at their school simply because of their age. I feel like it’s incredibly empowering and poignant for the young adults who’ll be reading this book. Undoubtedly some will be dealing with the same issues Harriet and Will are fighting against. One lovely thing about Amelia Westlake Was Never Here is the truth behind its message: one voice speaking out against the rest can be enough to turn the tide.
Of course, I’m also a sucker for the dynamic between these two, where they bicker and claim to hate each other while truly they’re getting a better understanding of what each is going through. There were parts of this book that had me laughing, squealing, gasping—parts that made my heart hurt, because they’re so relatable and part of anyone’s experience in growing up. This is a coming of age story that helps readers truly decide: would you rather be a bystander, or make a change in your world?
Amelia Westlake Was Never Here is a book that is here, and will be important for a long while.
This is the story of a girl who sees a boy float away one fine day. This is the story of the girl who reaches up for that boy with her hand and with her heart. This is the story of a girl who takes on the army to save a town, who goes toe-to-toe with a mad scientist.
I’ve had this book on my TBR for a while now because I downloaded it on Netgalley and never fit in the time to read it. Instead I found it on Hoopla recently (my love for that app never ends) and dove it.
This was a quick read. Floating Boy and the Girl Who Couldn’t Fly is a simplistic contemporary fantasy. It opens on Mary (our narrator, and I just had to look up her name because it’s used so rarely in the book) who is at a family reunion when she spots someone she’s never seen before. A boy, who climbs a tree and starts floating up into the sky.
It’s a hoax.
Or . . . is that only what they want her to think? Strange things start happening, spreading through and taking over her town, and Mary starts investigating it because . . . I don’t know, because Floating Boy is hot?
I had a lot of problems with this book, mostly the content because it was pretty well-written. Sometimes Mary’s POV was a little confusing, because her actions don’t really match the tone and content of her thoughts. She’s fourteen, and she’s running all around independent and making mature, rational decisions while her thought process is like that of someone half her age.
Part of the subplot is that Mary has had problems with anxiety and depression, probably stemming from pressure at school, and she’s still struggling with that. I love books where mental illness is not the only plot, just part of who a character is. However, Mary vehemently resists medical help with her anxiety/depression (which are apparently so bad that she mentions several times that her friends and family are on “suicide watch” and seems to look down on them for being worried about her?). She refers to all medication as “zombie pills” and there’s never any point where she realizes that medication actually is the answer for a lot of people and that it can be a good option. I can’t stand YA books that look down on medication like that, when someone young and needing help could read it and assume they shouldn’t consider that option, or think that everyone will judge them for it.
Mary loves to judge people. She looks down on her family. She looks down on her friends. Mary is one of those girls who isn’t like other girls. She needs to explain to other people who Godzilla is, because she’s the only one she knows who has ever seen or heard of Godzilla.
Excuse me what.
I wish we’d gotten to know more about Floating Boy and his past and all, because obviously he was the most interesting part of the book. Unfortunately the explanation for everything was so convoluted that I’m still not quite sure what the answer to all of the mysteries was? It didn’t make very much sense to me, and I didn’t care to try to go back and understand.
I can’t say that I recommend this book. There are so many better options out there to read, that are full of amazing characters, and are more satisfying. This one just really missed the mark.
The chocolate went first, then the cheese, the fries, the ice cream. The bread was more difficult, but if she could just lose a little more weight, perhaps she would make the soloists’ list. Perhaps if she were lighter, danced better, tried harder, she would be good enough. Perhaps if she just ran for one more mile, lost just one more pound.
Anna Roux was a professional dancer who followed the man of her dreams from Paris to Missouri. There, alone with her biggest fears – imperfection, failure, loneliness – she spirals down anorexia and depression till she weighs a mere eighty-eight pounds. Forced to seek treatment, she is admitted as a patient at 17 Swann Street, a peach pink house where pale, fragile women with life-threatening eating disorders live. Women like Emm, the veteran; quiet Valerie; Julia, always hungry. Together, they must fight their diseases and face six meals a day.
Yara Zgheib’s poetic and poignant debut novel is a haunting, intimate journey of a young woman’s struggle to reclaim her life. Every bite causes anxiety. Every flavor induces guilt. And every step Anna takes toward recovery will require strength, endurance, and the support of the girls at 17 Swann Street.
I received a review copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinion.
The Girls at 17 Swann Street is a beautifully deceiving book. The writing is a light, almost delicate style of lyric prose, while the content of the book is jarringly serious. The main character and narrator, Anna, has anorexia. The story follows her entering in-patient treatment, because her husband and her family and, sometimes, Anna, are afraid she is going to die.
I’m not sure if she was named “Anna” purposefully as a nod to how some refer to anorexia as “my friend Ana”. Because Anna tries to befriend those around her, tries to make the people in her life happy, and realizes nearly too late that her attempts to please the people around her are truly costing her those relationships. She is convinced that to succeed, she must be thinner, “better”, and the easiest thing to control in her life is how much food she eats.
I feel like the writing style worked perfectly for this book. It makes it easier to connect with Anna the person, rather than seeing her completely through her disease. There are so many stories where illness becomes the focus, not the character behind it or their struggle, and The Girls at 17 Swann Street makes all of these women feel real. You get to know them at their most vulnerable selves; you get to know their wants and fears, their dreams beyond this facility they’re currently living in.
My only complaint is that by getting into Anna’s head so completely, dialogue is sacrificed a little along the way. Some of the interaction between the characters is very stiff and feels melodramatic more than natural. Still, it’s possibly the least important part of the story, so it doesn’t detract from the overall message of the book.
As someone who has not had any personal experience with this disease, I can only assume this is an accurate depiction of what life in an in-patient facility might look and feel like. I highly recommend this book to anyone who’d like to get a better understanding of anorexia, which you might not know much about. Beyond that, the writing is on the whole excellent, so I’ll be looking forward to whatever Yara Zgheib writes next.
God bless the book people for their boundless knowledge absorbed from having words instead of friends.
Henry “Monty” Montague was born and bred to be a gentleman, but he was never one to be tamed. The finest boarding schools in England and the constant disapproval of his father haven’t been able to curb any of his roguish passions—not for gambling halls, late nights spent with a bottle of spirits, or waking up in the arms of women or men.
But as Monty embarks on his Grand Tour of Europe, his quest for a life filled with pleasure and vice is in danger of coming to an end. Not only does his father expect him to take over the family’s estate upon his return, but Monty is also nursing an impossible crush on his best friend and traveling companion, Percy.
Still it isn’t in Monty’s nature to give up. Even with his younger sister, Felicity, in tow, he vows to make this yearlong escapade one last hedonistic hurrah and flirt with Percy from Paris to Rome. But when one of Monty’s reckless decisions turns their trip abroad into a harrowing manhunt that spans across Europe, it calls into question everything he knows, including his relationship with the boy he adores.
Maybe I should have saved this read for 20-bi-teen, because next year I’m determined to fill my reading goals with excellent bisexual representation, but I finally bought this one and I couldn’t resist. I think I held out for a week because I decided to just read the first chapter and instead read the entire book in 3 days. And what a glorious weekend it was.
The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue is amazing. I want to whisper sweet nothings to it but Monty, the main character, would probably be better at that. He’s the kind of bi mess I’ve literally been waiting for. I’ve done my waiting, in Azkaban, and this beautiful book is my reward.
As with so many books lately I went into this knowing next to nothing, just the way I like it. I knew it was historical fiction. I lived on the promise of good rep. My friend told me that she loved this book and I decided to trust her. The moral of both my story and Monty’s is to trust your friends, sometimes.
I mean, sure. Did Monty give me secondhand anxiety? Yes. Were there times I just wanted to grab his shoulders and shake some sense into him? Absolutely. Did I shriek at some parts of the story and probably make my family ever regret knowing me? Of course! See, on top of the disasters that extend from Monty, there’s an adventure and a half going on that puts everyone’s lives and reputations on the line.
Most of the time I had the feeling that these people would rather die than lose their reputations. (Cue the Hermione voice: “Or worse . . . Expelled.)
But I couldn’t get enough of it. These are characters that make you love them while you also want to shove them together and force them to behave. It’s funny but also sort of makes you want to cry. Monty is easily one of my favorite characters now–and if you give him a chance I’m still he’ll be one of yours.
Me when I started this book:
aka: I worry that the rep will be disappointing, quickly see that I had nothing to worry about, and then Monty does so many things that make me feel secondhand anxiety
Me when the book ended:
aka: we all need to learn a little from Monty’s story and also I loved him so much I wasn’t ready for it to be over
My feelings about Monty:
aka: if anything happens to him they’ll have to get through me first
In an irreverent new series in the tradition of Terry Pratchett novels and The Princess Bride, the New York Times bestselling authors of the Iron Druid Chronicles and Star Wars: Phasmareinvent fantasy, fairy tales, and floridly written feast scenes.
Once upon a time, in a faraway kingdom, a hero, the Chosen One, was born . . . and so begins every fairy tale ever told.
This is not that fairy tale.
There is a Chosen One, but he is unlike any One who has ever been Chosened.
And there is a faraway kingdom, but you have never been to a magical world quite like the land of Pell.
There, a plucky farm boy will find more than he’s bargained for on his quest to awaken the sleeping princess in her cursed tower. First there’s the Dark Lord who wishes for the boy’s untimely death . . . and also very fine cheese. Then there’s a bard without a song in her heart but with a very adorable and fuzzy tail, an assassin who fears not the night but is terrified of chickens, and a mighty fighter more frightened of her sword than of her chain-mail bikini. This journey will lead to sinister umlauts, a trash-talking goat, the Dread Necromancer Steve, and a strange and wondrous journey to the most peculiar “happily ever after” that ever once-upon-a-timed.
I’ve never DNF’d a book so fast. I’m sure that this is someone else’s cup of tea, but Kill the Farm Boy is not for me.
As something compared to The Princess Bride, possibly one of the greatest, funniest takes on fairytale tropes that still manages to tell a fantastic story, Kill the Farm Boy is nothing like that. I read slightly less than fifty pages and then, when I found out this had a sequel coming, decided to end things there. I have too many other books to read to commit to . . . this.
I’m genuinely confused because I feel like if this book was scaled back–like if the lewd jokes disappeared and the characters were aged down, this would work so well as a middle grade book. In all seriousness, I think readers would love that. Because in the 40-50 pages I read, there were at least a dozen poop and fart jokes. In an adult novel. Ooooooooookay.
Besides that, the rest of the humor wasn’t for me either. Like, there was a lady running around in an armored bikini, I think just because it would be ‘funny’ to have her do certain things in a bikini? The bulk of the rest of the jokes felt like I was reading a mash-up parody of The Three Stooges. And that sort of humor doesn’t work on the page.
That said, I’m sure someone will like this. But if this sort of humor isn’t for you–maybe skip it, because Kill the Farm Boy is more about the jokes than the plot anyway.
Miri Tan loved the book Undertow like it was a living being. So when she and her friends went to a book signing to meet the author, Fatima Ro, they concocted a plan to get close to her, even if her friends won’t admit it now. As for Jonah, well—Miri knows none of that was Fatima’s fault.
Soleil Johnston wanted to be a writer herself one day. When she and her friends started hanging out with her favorite author, Fatima Ro, she couldn’t believe their luck—especially when Jonah Nicholls started hanging out with them, too. Now, looking back, Soleil can’t believe she let Fatima manipulate her and Jonah like that. She can’t believe that she got used for a book.
Penny Panzarella was more than the materialistic party girl everyone at the Graham School thought she was. She desperately wanted Fatima Ro to see that, and she saw her chance when Fatima asked the girls to be transparent with her. If only she’d known what would happen when Fatima learned Jonah’s secret. If only she’d known that the line between fiction and truth was more complicated than any of them imagined. . . .
I received an e-Arc of this book from Epic Reads in exchange for my honest review.
I was very excited to read All of This is True because I want to read more contemporary this year. The book is told in alternative format, which I love–in podcast interviews, emails, texts, and book excerpts. There’s a book-within-the-book going on, which I think is an interesting move. I was highly interested and didn’t know much about the plot before I dove in.
Let’s start by talking about the format. Some of the alternative text didn’t lend itself well to ebook format, though this may just be an issue with the ARC, so I’d suggest getting a physical copy to get the full affect. Still, I think it could have been done in a better way to really capture the narrative voice. The podcast interviews were impossible to tell apart—all of the girls being interviewed ended up sounding the same. Because the names of the people in the book-within-the-book, characters based on the characters we’re learning about in ‘reality’, all began with the same letters as the people they were based on, it was hard to keep track of who was who. There was no real foundation for the story to stand on.
Next, the characters. If the voice couldn’t be the foundation, surely the characters could. But they were all very unlikable, and I’m not certain that was done on purpose. I didn’t really care about any of them. I didn’t care if they were hurting, or in trouble, or excited. I didn’t want to hear their perspectives on the incident. Actually, I still don’t knowwhy the book was told in this format. Why did we need to hear their perspectives on the incident? Only one character actually says anything that adds to the intrigue of the book (such as it is). In that case, we could have focused on her for the whole of the story and made things less confusing.
The book-within-a-book was . . . bad. This is another thing that, if I knew for certain was done on purpose, I would like a lot more. The book-within-a-book is supposed to be written by this young, best-selling writing prodigy. I think she’s in her mid-twenties and she’s supposed to be really, really great at writing amazing, thought-provoking passages. The book-within-a-book was so laden with cliche and specifically YA cliche that I thought it had to be done as a parody. I really hope it was. Matching this terrible book-within-a-book with the supposed prodigy author, within the context of the theme of the real book, would make things very interesting.
The plot twist . . . as soon as that portion of the plot was mentioned, I called the resolution then and there. Actually, I thought that the book would have been better and bolder if the plot twist hadn’t existed and the plot had taken a completely different direction. Instead, the plot relied upon and built up to this twist that was completely unnecessary, that needed ‘shock value’ I guess, and made the book pretty . . . boring.
It was a very unique idea, but I can’t say that I recommend it.