Sunday, 8 February 2009

Mini reviews - I see a theme here ...

On my most recent trip to the library, I got several books that I’ve realised are all similar in a way. Usually I lean towards historical fiction or fantasy, but I’ve just read several that focus on modern teenage girls tackling some kind of big problem. I didn’t really realise it until I’d read them all, they all focus on very different issues. I thought I’d share.

Spiked! – Sandra Glover
As might be guessed from the title, this is a book about a girl’s drink being spiked. Don’t worry though, it’s not a story with a MORAL. Spiked! was really interesting because it was a bit like a game of Cluedo. Of course, most of the characters have secrets and these gradually come out as the audience try to work out who the bad guy is. This is made the more intriguing because you get sections of the book written in the ‘spiker’s’ point of view without revealing their identity. The plot isn’t too gripping, but this didn’t matter because I was too busy trying to analyse each characters’ motives and possibility of being the psycho. It also addresses the often avoided issue of the problems that a victim faces after a traumatic event, how everything doesn’t automatically become right again. Enough twists and turns to keep me guessing until the last minute, this book was more a puzzle or game than an example of wonderfully written prose, but it was fun and very interesting.

Looking for jj – Anne Cassidy
A disturbing and yet gripping take on how a child could become capable of murder. This was fully believable, especially the sections written from the point of ten-year-old jj. Several years on, and the story also addresses the difficulty for a teenager to recover from something so haunting in her past, as well as how constant media interference can threaten the world she’s built up for herself. As other critics have pointed out, it’s completely gripping, completely believable and well worth reading. It’s a disturbingly realistic look into the psychological impacts of abandonment, guilt, fear, and how a single mistake can haunt the rest of your life. It’s not easy reading. But it is well-written and thought-provoking and I highly recommend it.

Speak – Laurie Halse Anderson
This book was at a disadvantage because it is very similar to Sarah Dessen’s Just Listen, which I’ve already read. Similar, and in my opinion, not as good. Traumatic event, mistaken result of traumatic event means everyone hates her, she doesn’t know how to deal with it. All about recovering, being able to speak up for yourself and generally becoming comfortable with yourself. I’d say targeted at a 13-15 year old audience, it’s an interesting character study, but I felt that the plot-line was a bit bare. If you haven’t read Just Listen, you’ll probably really enjoy this one, it’s sympathetic and detailed enough. If I’d read them the other way around, I’d have enjoyed Speak a lot more.
Let’s get Lost – Sarra Manning
I do love the idea that people who seem to have it all are secretly crumbling apart underneath. I also love the fact that this main character becomes an obsessive tidier when she’s upset. I didn’t like the idea that a twenty-year-old would go out with a sixteen-year old and not notice the age difference. The older a person gets, the less an age gap matters, I think, but in your teens you do so much growing that such a difference should be obvious. I do like a story about a mean girl, especially one who is fighting so hard to keep it together because of something really bad that’s happened recently. I cared about the main character and her family, I just didn’t care enough about any of the other characters to really enjoy this story. Small parts of this book really interested me, but I had to wade through a whole lot of words to reach them. I confess – I skipped bits. I hardly ever do this, it’s my version of dumping a book and not reading any more. Other people may enjoy Let’s get Lost and relate to it, but I just didn’t.
Of the four, Spiked! and Looking for jj were my favourites and I'll be looking out for more titles by both of these authors. Any suggestions from people? I think I'll be giving this genre a rest for a while, but are there any similar books I should try?


  1. I LOVE Sarra Manning! Lets Get Lost is so good. Have you read the Diary of a Crush trilogy?

  2. I am reading Speak now. I have Just Listen on my shelf, so let's see which one I end up liking more!

  3. prophecygirl - I haven't read anything else by Sarra Manning, but I've heard good things about some of her other books

  4. I read Speak years before I read Just Listen. When I started Just Listen I remember thinking, "Oh no, it's the same story as Speak!" But as I read on, I stopped comparing them. They're such different books!

    If I was really pushed to choose one over the other, I think I'd say I prefer Speak. I absolutely loved Melinda's voice.

    I'm also a huge Sarra Manning fan!


  5. But I want to add that I also loved Just Listen.

  6. Found your blog through Lenore. Enjoy reading your reviews.

  7. Thanks Susan :) It's good to know people are liking them