- 3 x YA Contemporary
In relation to my last post discussing the importance of YA literature, this month can definitely be characterised as something of a YA binge! I read a total of three books this month, and am halfway through a fourth.
Having had ‘The Manifesto on How to be Interesting’ by Holly Bourne recommended to me by my wonderful friend Emily, who wrote a wonderful blog post on it here, I was pretty certain I was going to enjoy it. What I didn’t expect was the extent to which I would enjoy it. Holly Bourne’s novel was an unexpectedly accurate portrayal of many teenage issues, as well as an enjoyable read that packed yet another hard-hitting societal message.
The novel centres around teenager Bree as she tries to navigate the world of social hierarchies, mental and physical health, and relationships. Its premise is, refreshingly, not one I think I’ve ever encountered before, in which its protagonist goes almost undercover as a stereotypical ‘popular girl’ in order to discover the life that she’s never previously had, and to expose other typically popular people in the form of an online blog. Holly Bourne does particularly well in conveying an authentic teenage voice, and creates believable characters that it is difficult not to form strong opinions of. Some characters that you were rooting for to begin with you lose respect for near the end, and vice versa, meaning that I was constantly hooked to find out what they were all going to do next. The only issue I had with this novel was that I felt the resolution came very quickly all in a space of a few pages, and some little things were not quite taken care of so I had a few lingering questions afterwards that could have been resolved with just a few extra lines.
Overall, however, TMOHTBI was an excellent YA novel that I read in the space of a few days despite it being a lengthy book, and thoroughly deserved the five out of five stars that I awarded it as in hindsight, my criticisms were fairly minor and ultimately overruled by Holly Bourne’s engrossing writing style and plot development.
Secondly I picked up ‘Love and other Perishable Items’ by Laura Buzo, who unlike Holly Bourne, I had never heard of until her book caught my eye. Again, I read this novel very quickly, but had slightly less positive feelings towards it. It is safe to say that I don’t think I’ve ever read a novel in which three quarters of the setting revolves around a supermarket…
The premise of the novel is that fifteen year old teenager Amelia is infatuated with twenty-one year old colleague Chris, who she meets through their shared jobs at the local supermarket. There is very little else to say in summary of the novel as it quite literally switches between supermarket to parties and back again, with very little in the way of character development other than from Amelia and a small amount from Chris’ point of view. What I did like is that this novel has a dual narrative, with Amelia’s thoughts coming in standard novel format, and Chris’ in the form of slightly drunken diary entries. This did add greatly to the story as I think hearing it in its entirety through Amelia’s voice may have gotten repetitive given the majority of her thoughts revolve around Chris.
One of my major criticisms of this book is that I felt, even by the end of it, that I didn’t really know Chris whatsoever. We are given very little in description of him and other than his fierce teasing and desire to educate Amelia on many aspects of life (which came across as very forceful and not altogether believable), I came out of the book not really caring much about the journey he went on. Even remembering enough about him to write a blog post a couple of weeks later is a challenge.
This, I think, is the problem with the book as a whole. Will I remember it in a few months’ time? Highly unlikely. I just did not feel there was enough to hold my interest and the relationships that were formed within I just did not connect with whatsoever, hence why I awarded it three out of five stars.
The third and final novel I finished this month, upon continual recommendation from BookTube, was ‘Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour’ by Morgan Matson. This comes again under the category of YA contemporary, however it was not at all what I was expecting. From what I had heard via BookTube and from reading several reviews I thought this novel would be a light, summery read, but how wrong I was! ‘Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour’ contains one prevailing dark theme which its protagonist Amy deals with throughout the novel, this being the death of her father and her subsequent feelings of guilt. I found Amy to be a very believable protagonist, and Roger a very intriguing yet realistic supporting character, despite the fact that I would suggest their ‘thrown together for the road trip of a lifetime’ situation to be slightly far-fetched. In addition, the ending was extremely predictable, and quite often I caught myself thinking that not quite so many pages were needed, which prevented me from giving it a full five star rating. I did enjoy the addition of playlists, receipts and photos that are found throughout the novel, however these were sometimes placed before Amy and Roger had reached that particular place which made it slightly difficult to follow. All in all, however, I did give ‘Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour’ four out of five stars, owing to its rounded characters, beautiful description, and occasional moments of humour.
And there we have it! July 2016, all wrapped up. I think this has been a relatively successful reading month (illustrated again by how ridiculously long this post is), and it was extremely refreshing to devote it to YA! As I now have a few weeks off from sixth form I am aiming to be a bit more frequent in posting…
First Book for August: Outlander by Diana Gabaldon (which I have already started, and am LOVING!)
Have a lovely day x