About 3 months ago, I was lucky enough to be approved for several YA ARCs. While I’ve read several of them, I’ve been incredibly remiss in actually getting down what I think about the lovely books publishers have allowed me to read.
First, I started with Becky Albertalli’s The Upside of Unrequited.
I was pretty darn excited about this as I’d read her debut, Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda on a whim last year and loved it. Albertalli’s prose is nothing particularly special – it’s somewhere above workman but below beauty. It’s strong and sufficient enough for the tales she spins. For me, what made ‘Simon’ such an unrestrained joy to experience was the protagonist, Simon. I found him delightful and just the sort of person my younger self would have wanted to be friends with in high school. Sadly, I didn’t feel this way about Molly in The Upside of Unrequited. I’m not sure if I can explain it well enough – but I never really felt drawn into Molly – or for that matter, her friends or her family. They were well drawn, funny but still, I didn’t feel a spark there. I didn’t feel as riveted by Molly’s drama. It’s not to say that the book isn’t a worthwhile read, because it is! Albertalli is just as amusing and wry as she is in her debut and her commitment to diversity is just as wonderful – it never feels false or unearned, or as though she’s doing it simply to make a point. The characters who populate this book feel like the world in which we live. It’s simply that I cared for them and their situations less than I cared for those of Simon’s world. It’s a 3 star book for me.
Lucy Keating’s Literally is another YA that didn’t quite work for me as well as I’d hoped.
Keating’s protagonist Annabelle’s the sort that always has everything together until the author herself shows up and essentially begins to scramble Annabelle’s tightly plotted life. It’s cute enough and I enjoy the meta aspect, which is pretty different from other YA novels I’ve read, but still I didn’t connect well enough to the characters and to their situations for Literally to really make an impact. Literally is enjoyable and decent, but it’s not really riveting and its characters are the sort that stick with you for longer than the time it takes to read the book. I waver between a 2.5 and 3 star rating.
After the last few YAs, I was starting to think that maybe, just maybe, YA wasn’t going to be quite my bag any longer, but I was wrong!
I just finished Jilly Gagnon’s #famous. Oh how I loved this book! I burned through it pretty quickly. The plot centers on a girl and a guy – Rachel and Kyle – who get their lives turned upside down by a seemingly innocent social medial post. This feels pretty darn timely, but Gagnon’s writing doesn’t make it feel cheap. I actually loved all the characters, including the Mean Girl Leader, Emma and Rachel’s best friend Mo because they feel so real and lived in and reminded me of my own high school experience. And the dialogue is so snappy and delightful! I honestly loved every single minute of it. I wholeheartedly recommend this to anyone wanting an adorable quick read. 4 stars all the way.