Adorkable: A Book Review

Book: Adorkable

Author: Cookie O’Gorman

Adorkable

Blurb:

Adorkable (ah-dor-kuh-bul): Descriptive term meaning to be equal parts dorky and adorable. For reference, see Sally Spitz.

Seventeen-year-old Sally Spitz is done with dating. Or at least, she’s done with the horrible blind dates/hookups/sneak attacks her matchmaking bestie, Hooker, sets her up on. There’s only so much one geek girl and Gryffindor supporter can take.

Her solution: she needs a fake boyfriend. And fast.

Enter Becks, soccer phenom, all-around-hottie, and Sally’s best friend practically since birth. When Sally asks Becks to be her F.B.F. (fake boyfriend), Becks is only too happy to be used. He’d do anything for Sal–even if that means giving her PDA lessons in his bedroom, saying she’s “more than pretty,” and expertly kissing her at parties.

The problem: Sally’s been in love with Becks all her life–and he’s completely clueless.

This book features two best friends, one special edition Yoda snuggie, countless beneath-the-ear kisses and begs the question:

Who wants a real boyfriend when faking it is so much more fun?

My thoughts:

This is not to be confused with Sarah Manning’s book of the same name. That one features a well-known blogger in high school who lives by herself. This one features a much more “normal” protagonist; she’s geeky and in love with her best-friend.

Adorkable was a very light and quick read. It didn’t touch upon any serious issues. The characters were adorably stereotypical and the plot-line was blessedly predictable. One serious issue I had with the book was the whole premise. Sally is in high-school?  Why are her mother and best-friend so concerned about her being boy-friendless. High school is nowhere near the point at which you are supposed to be in a serious relationship. I’d estimate that age to be closer to 30, maybe 35.

A relatively minor quibble compared to that gaping plot hole is Sally’s plan to get into Duke. Now that I’m a Senior and applying to colleges, I’m aware that Duke requires a really high-caliber student. Leadership in a couple of extracurriculars, several AP’s and a super high test score are expected. And I don’t know about the other 2 criterion, but president of German club and a position on newspaper staff probably wouldn’t be enough unless she was a recruited athlete or she got ridiculously lucky.

On the other hand, this book was sweet. Cookie O’Gorman did a better job of diving into the trivialities of a teenage brain than most YA authors.  This made the book funny at points. It was a breeze to read through and I “aww”ed a couple of times because it was just that cute.

“I was free, liberated. For a second there I even considered burning my bra.”

Overall Rating: 2/5

 

6 Tropes That YA Would be Better Without

I love young adult fiction. I really do. I love reading about people my age, who face similar things but react so differently. I love the way it’s so easy to slip into their characters and into the amazingly detailed worlds. But (there’s always a but, isn’t there), I can admit that the young adult genreisn’t perfect. Some messages that some young adult books convey…well they’re unhealthy (not to mention completely untrue) to say the least. I’ll be touching on some of them in this post.


 

  1.  Boys and girls can never be just best-friends.

    This is not entirely a Young Adult fiction phenomenon. In fact, in real life many people seem to believe this too. But I’m going ahead and starting my list with this thing because it happens all the time in young adult fiction. It usually goes like this: Boy and girl have been best friends since they were babies, one of them develops romantic feelings for the other, they refuse to tell their friend because they don’t want to ‘ruin things’, inevitably they wait too long and a new romantic interest shows up, they get jealous and they end up confessing their love and boom- instant love triangle. I’m serious this trope has been overdone (that’s why it’s called a trope).
    Characters stuck in this trope: Gale and Katniss from the Hunger Games, Simon and Clary from the Mortal Instruments (at least for the first few books)
    Books which managed to evade this trope: I’m going to be a little more specific- I want  male and female main characters who are not related to each other (and neither of them can be a LGBT for this to work) but who still don’t have romantic feelings for each other, no matter how much you tilt your head and squint. Not surprisingly, this lowers the list quite dramatically and the only thing I can think of off the bat is Forever Mine by Elizabeth Reyes (and even that comes with a whole set of other problems). In it Sarah has a great relationship with her best friend Sydney, who is male and has his own girlfriend.


     

  2. No matter what your ‘soul mate’ does, you should forgive them.

    Stalking you, scaring you…hurting you– we’ve all been taught in real life that we should never be with a person who doesn’t respect you as a person or who scares and hurts you. It’s called abuse people. And no matter what the situation is, it is unforgiveable. So why did we forgive  Four so easily for taking a part of Tris’s ear off with a knife (on purpose) in Divergent or Patch trying to scare Nora into leaving him alone in Hush, Hush? And before you feminists get all superior- it’s not just the men who hurt women. In the Hunger Games, Katniss toys with Peeta’s emotions and pretends to love him before revealing it was all just a sham. And what does Peeta do? He just swallows his pride to play the part of the not-so-star crossed lover for the sake of the Capitol and Katniss’s family? Sure, it’s  different but at the end of the day- it’s just another kind of abuse.
    Books stuck in this trope: Like I mentioned above, Divergent, Hush, Hush and the Hunger Games all fall into this category
    Books which are totally against this trope: Wanderlove by Kirsten Hubbard deals with emotional abuse,  Bitter End by Jennifer Brown and But I Love Him by Mandy Hubbard deal with physical abuse.


  3. Parents and  teachers (basically all adults) are incapable of fully understandin and helping you.

    Like my English teacher would say, a huge part of being a teenager is wanting to show that you’re self-sufficient and independent. In other words, we teenagers would like to believe we don’t need no grownups. So in books like the Iron King by Julie Kagawa, the parents are the last one who are let into the loop. Because they wouldn’t need to know that their son is being held hostage by the fae and has been replaced with a changeling, would they? Nope, not at all. Even the Harry Potter series is not safe from this trope. Dumbledore, though a great man is eventually shown to be fallible and most fans believe Harry would have been better off never trusting him in the first place.
    I can not, and I repeat- can not think of a single young adult fiction book in which there is a reliable adult around who the main character trusts and tells them about everything.



  4. Whining can be endearing.

    Bella Swan from Twilight is perhaps the most well-known for this trope (boo-hoo, i’m not pretty, it rains so much here, my boyfriend won’t turn me into a vampire, he wants to celebrate my birthday, and it rains so much here *sob*) but there are others too. Zoey from the House of Night series and Cassia from the Matched trilogy, I’m looking at you. Authors, there’s one really important thing you need to know about teenage girls: Most of us are not whiny and none of us find whiny people endearing. If you need to give your narrator’s voice a little bit of oomph, then whininess is not the way to go.
    Some books without this trope: Graceling by Kristin Cashore, Poison Study by Maria V. Snyder and The Golden Compass by Phillip Pullman- all three are great books with non-whiny heroes who have excoriating circumstances thrust upon them but still rise to meet the challenges with minimal self pity and whining.


  5. Love at first sight exists

    This trope exists in so many forms. Of course there is the ‘You don’t need to walk by again, I believe in love at first sight’ but perhaps the most common form in young adult fiction is ‘I had never seen that boy before but I felt an instant connection’. The ‘We met in a dream and that’s how we fell in love’ one’s pretty common too. All so different but they have one thing in common- they’re all annoying.  Not to mention unrealistic.
    P.S. the ‘We met in a past life’ one counts too. Cheaters *sticks tongue out*
    Character stuck in this trope: Ethan and Lena from Beautiful Creatures, Daniel and Luce from Fallen
    Books without this trope:  The Gallagher Girls and Heist Society by Ally Carter. I’m not sure if Unspoken by Sarah Rees Brennan gets to go in this category or not. After all, Kami and Jared have never met but at the same time they’ve been each others best friends (even if each of them thought the other was imaginary).  But it’s so good, I’m going to go ahead and put it here.


  6. Everything will work out (even if you do nothing)

    So here’s what happens when you’ve got a huge problem that stresses you out completely- a magical and amazing outsider will come in and wave their magical fairy wand and your problem will disappear forever. How often does this happen in real life? Once? Twice? Oh wait, I remember…never. You usually have to work hard to make your problems disappear. Even if they do disappear, it’s because you’ve matured and grown and thus have bigger problems to worry about. So yeah, I hate happy ever afters when the main characters do nothing to deserve them.
    In fact, there’s a fancy latin name for this whole trope. It’s called deus ex machina. Wikipedia defines it as a plot device whereby a seemingly unsolvable problem is suddenly and abruptly resolved by the contrived and unexpected intervention of some new event, character, ability or object. It also makes it pretty clear that this is undesirable.
    Books with this trope: This is What Happy Looks Like by Jennifer E Smith and The Chemical Garden Trilogoy by Lauren DeStefano
    The exceptions to the rule: Lord of The Flies by William Golding- but only because I think if it went any further, I would have freaked out.


 

So that’s a list of some things I hate about YA. What about you?

Article 5 : A Book Review

10677277

Book: Article 5 (Article 5 #1)
Author: Kristen Simmons

Cover: 3/5
The cover’s a bit chilling. You can see a girl and a guy just surveying the ruins of what must have been a great city. Initally, I thought they would be one of the few survivors of the city. However I was wrong. Either I came up with something completely random or the cover’s misleading. Assuming the second, the cover gets only 3/5. Sorry.

Setting:3.5/5
It’s set in future USA. The time’s not specified but  USA is effectively being run by a military regime whose head was a voted President. The President was voted in hopes of stabilization after a war between the rich and the poor broke out. Instead he threw the entire country into a harsh dictatorship which is based on 8 moral conducts. Failure to submit to any of these rules result in imprisonment and execution. Religion, the definition of a family and the clothes you wear are all changed by these articles.  The protagonist of our story gets locked into a detention center after her mother violates article 5 (thus giving us the title of the book). She spends most of the book trying to escape it and it’s violent head. When she finally does escape, she’s in a crazy car trip with her fugitive ex-boyfriend. Kristen Simmons does a great job of showing how chaos and panic have set in. Big cities have been deserted and smaller cities are overcrowding. Everyone has to stand in lines at the soup kitchen. Although it’s not explicitly stated, it’s heavily implied that there’s been a high rate of inflation. Food, water, gasoline, etc.  are all hard to get. But this is more because nobody has any money, than about any real shortage.

Plot:3/5
(Taken from goodreads.com)

New York, Los Angeles, and Washington, D.C., have been abandoned.

The Bill of Rights has been revoked, and replaced with the Moral Statutes.

There are no more police—instead, there are soldiers. There are no more fines for bad behavior—instead, there are arrests, trials, and maybe worse. People who get arrested usually don’t come back.

Seventeen-year-old Ember Miller is old enough to remember that things weren’t always this way. Living with her rebellious single mother, it’s hard for her to forget that people weren’t always arrested for reading the wrong books or staying out after dark. It’s hard to forget that life in the United States used to be different.

Ember has perfected the art of keeping a low profile. She knows how to get the things she needs, like food stamps and hand-me-down clothes, and how to pass the random home inspections by the military. Her life is as close to peaceful as circumstances allow.

That is, until her mother is arrested for noncompliance with Article 5 of the Moral Statutes. And one of the arresting officers is none other than Chase Jennings—the only boy Ember has ever loved

Characters:4/5
Ember’s a bit of a damsel in distress. Even though she tries rescuing herself several times, she’s forced to depend on others for help. She has a bit of a holier-than-thou attitude (which kind of pissed me off but characters shouldn’t be perfect) but will do anything for the people who she loves and trusts. That’s why I think the blackmail fit her character really well. I know a lot of people were horrified by it, but I think the blackmail is the second best part of the book. Here she reveals exactly how desperate she is to save her mother. That was another unique thing- the mother had to be saved. In most books, it’s a younger sibling or best friend who has to be saved. Kristen Simmons made the plot more refreshing by making it necessary to save the mother. The mother is a bit outspoken and is brave (braver than the heroine,) yet sometimes these qualities are what gets the mother into trouble. It doesn’t really seem like she need saving, but the heroine is convinced she does need saving. And I think that’s what helps make this character most human: she thinks she knows what is best for everyone, but don’t we all?

Rachel was the kind of girl who I was sure I would hate at the beginning. She was the fake candy-floss sweet girl. But then we find out it’s all a cover. I was surprised- but this was  definitely a good surprise . She turns out to be the loyal friend and even more loyal girlfriend. It’s heartbreaking what happens to her. I hope we see more of her as the series progresses.

Sean…I think I almost prefer Sean to Chase. He’s so sweet, even when he has been blackmailed. Loyal too. I think his story is the saddest in the series, yes this includes his girlfriend’s.  But through it all, he still remains funny and lovable. Towards the end of this book, he’s almost like a brother to both Chase and Ember. I really love the banter between the trio.

Chase is swoon worthy. I’m not joking. He’s the best friend who grows up to be more (in most YA books, only the guy wants the friendship to become more). Then he becomes the dangerous, hot soldier who is such a cliche in these type of books. (look under romance for more).

Brock is the first villain. She’s like a muggle umbridge; she inflicts corporal punishment while pretending to be sweet and lady-like. There’s not a single redeemable quality in her. Gah! I intensely hated her throughout the course of the book. She didn’t bite the bullet yet, but I still have hope. There are two more books left in the series.

Tucker is the villain of the piece. And he’s Kristen Simmon’s masterpiece. From the very beginning, he seems to have a perverted, sleazy interest in Ember.

“His green eyes blazed with desire; such a different look than I’d known before. Chase had studied me, reading my feelings. Tucker was only trying to see his own reflection. Disturbing on several levels.”

But before you groan about love triangles, let me tell you that he’s only interested cause Ember is Chase’s girl. Jealousy and ambition seem to be his driving forces but eventually they lead to his downfall. Is it just me or does he sound brainwashed here?

I’m a damn good soldier. I did what needed to be done.

Romance 3.5/5
I love how the authoress takes a cliche like a love triangle with the bad boy and the sweet guy and puts both guys into one. Confused? Yeah Ember is too. She refers to the pre-soldier Chase as ‘her’ Chase and the soldier as ‘a stranger’. In the book Chase deals with PTS and this just makes him more humane To be honest, before that, the soldier kind of freaked me out too. He not only deals with Post Traumatic Stress, he deals with guilt too (you’ll find out why by the end).

“I wondered what he’d done that had been so terrible that he wouldn’t accept even an ounce of kindness from another person. It seemed impossible just then that I could ever hate him more than he hated himself.”

Both of these things put a serious dampener on the relationship for quite a while, but when it get’s going…it get’s steamy quickly.  Too quickly for me, but then to each their own.

Action: 2/5
Although there’s action in the book, it’s not very well described.  The author says stuff like he kicks, he punches, he breaks his arm. And it’s good but it’s not great. The motions are all  very vague and it takes effort to picture them. Kristen Simmons tries but in the end, it doesn’t play in your head like it does in Gone or in Angelfall.

Plotholes:
There’s a lot that is left to be explained. But I understand that this is a series and that there are two more books to go. I’m dying to know what Three is and who Roy was. Chase’s uncle is another character who I think will have an interesting story. I have high hopes for Tucker too; I predict his story will be one of redemption.

Technical terms/Worldbuilding:4/5
Though there are a couple of new terms, they instantaneously stick. I think the hardest part to get over, for me was the sisters of salvation. They are treated so badly by men, yet women are supposed to look up to them as role models? Ah well, it’s a twisted world.

Overall recommendations: 4/5
There’s something which makes this book click. I don’t know if it’s the awesome characters or the moving plotline or just the flowing writing style. Maybe it’s a combination of all three. Whatever it is, this story works and I would definitely recommend it to anyone.