Hi! My name is Anna, "You'd really like me if you got to know me. I've known me for years and I love me."
Word count: about 95 000
Rating: “I’ll face my fate like a man. Or at least, the closest approximation of one that I am able to manufacture on short notice. “
*ARC provided by NetGalley
EDIT: I'm bumping up the rating to 5 stars, because the more I think about it the more I love it. Quirky, funny, realistic - what more could I want?
I truly didn’t expect much of that book. I don’t like the cover or the title. But boy, do I like the contents.
This is an amazingly realistic, down to earth story. At the beginning I was terrified, thinking that it’ll be full of cardboard, one dimensional cliché characters and tropes. And it wasn’t. First 5 pages made me consider dropping the book immediately, the rest… it kept on getting better and better.
The best way I can think of to describe that book would be something along: The realistic slice-of-life story told for the first person view of our MC, Samuel; a 16 year old quirky teenager obsessed with slasher&horror movies. Yes, there is a romance element, but if you’re thinking typical YA, think again. This is possibly the most realistic depiction of teenage life and love life I’ve ever come across. It may not be the most exciting, action packed, fast paced, romantic book about teens, but in my opinion it has great pacing and balance all around.
Let’s start with Samuel and his click of friends – they’re all unique and (surprisingly) not annoying (even Adrian turned out OK in the end). They are as far from being popular as humanly possible, but aren’t pathetic no-lives. We also don’t get Greek-god-drop-dead-gorgeous specimens that simply couldn’t see their beauty. They’re just normal. In fact, looks aren’t a big focus of the book. Our image of characters (ALL of them, not just the main ones) is build by impressions, by behavior and dialogue rather than direct description. Looks are rarely mentioned. Let’s all applaud the author, for that is the way to do it.
When new girl comes to school she shakes things up. Now some may think that Camilla is an unrealistic character, that her moving between different social circles and hanging out with the unpopular kids is a joke ‘cause “no one would make such choices”. Accept I was an introverted version of her. I had many friends (both popular and unpopular) that liked me (but not the rest of my friends). Somehow I got accepted in all circles. Which always baffled me, since me and the cool kids have seemingly nothing in common apart from chronic addiction to oxygen ( I’m no great ‘social catch’). So if it happened to me, a girl like Camilla would be totally able to do it. In fact I knew a person like her. So there. Suck on it. Notice she didn’t discard anyone, she just hung out more with ‘geeks & nerds inc.’ while still being a part of chess club, volleyball team and comity organizing a school dance. She is determined to break Sam’s and his friends’ walls and opens them up to the world of possibilities. I knew some people that were exactly like her! Which probably made me like this book a bit more.
Behaviors of the characters were very teen like, but not annoying or needlessly exaggerated. I can’t stress enough how much I’ve enjoyed realistic dynamics shown in this book! I do believe some readers might find it boring, but for me it was perfectly paced and steadily kept me interested and emotionally invested into the characters. And I like all of them. All 5 members of the click/pack/whatever you want to call it.
I also found it very funny – that’s always a good thing. With many references to films and books.
EDIT: Question was answered by a real person. Apparently YES. It happens. The only question I have is: do people really have enough time to watch stuff repeatedly? Because I rarely re-read books or re-watch things. Especially TV shows! That would take far too long. So when I read about a boy that memorized some movies and watched repeatedly most of his favorite genre, I get confused. Am I weird? I’m 22 and I haven’t done anything like that. I’m not sure if it’s even physically possible. To watch Battlestar Galactica until I know it by heart seems like a colossal waste of time to me.
But there’s one issue that truly bothered me.The author is a woman, and she’s writing about a teenage boy. How well can she project that? When a guy tries to write about a girl I’m cool (since I am one) and can call him on his bullshit. But this? I don’t know. I don’t know if I completely buy it.
Conclusion: If you’re expecting quick, dramatic, instant love you’re going to be very disappointed. It’s a realistic book of slice-of life variety. There is no big quest driving the plot. There hardly is a plot – it’s much more impressionistic. I loved it. Grand finale wasn’t blown out of proportion and stayed in keeping with spirit of this publication. Integrity. That’s always a plus.
*Oh yeah, but what was the deal with that wack karate lesson? 0.0 I'm pretty sure you can't just come and get the shit beaten out of you right of the bat. It was a first lesson! They don't freaking make you fight the black belts! Until you lose consciousness. So... There was that.