Tag Archives: young adult novel

YA Book Review: Airhead by Meg Cabot

airheadmegcabotbookcover

Airhead, Meg Cabot

HATED this book. One of the most sexist narratives I’ve ever read, and from a woman, to boot.

Emerson Watts is comfortable in her own skin. She loves video games, medical documentaries, and hanging out with her equally nerdy best friend Christopher, whom she only wishes would see her as a girl instead of his asexual buddy. Until a bizarre accident makes her a participant in a brain transplant meant to save her life, in which she’s given the body – and forced to take over the identity – of a world-famous teen supermodel.

………….
………….

Leaving the sheer bloody ludicrousness of the plot aside, the message this book is sending – to teen girls no less – is that it’s not okay or enough to just have interests and be yourself and have nerdy interests (interests which in real life would make you totally hot to a lot of guys, something the book was conspicuously silent on – do you know how many guys would love a woman who plays video games? A LOT). You can’t *just* be smart and have hobbies and your own personality – you must ALSO have the body of a supermodel and a smile that turns virtually every guy who sees into jelly.

Because at the end of the day, why settle for being yourself? When you can be smart, nerdy, AND hot? Thus fulfilling every male fantasy ever??? Seriously if Cabot had created a female character with men in mind she couldn’t have done a better job. Em in this novel becomes the teenage epitome of Gillian Flynn’s accurately-sketched, terrible Cool Girl in Gone Girl. The representation of Male Desire and its supremacy in culture and in narrative.

I HATED this novel with every fiber of my literature-loving, chick-lit-loving, feminist body. Excuse me while I go read some Kafka, *anything,* to get this taste out of my mouth.

P.S. Emerson – or rather her body – expires when a TV falls on her. I’m not making this stuff up, folks. 

P.P.S. The fact that there are two more books in this series makes me want to enlist The Bride (see Kill Bill if you haven’t seen it yet y’all) to track Cabot down and put the fear of woman into her so she never writes such a book again. I’ve read and liked/loved a lot of Cabot. This, is unworthy of her.

Book Review: Lola and the Boy Next Door

lola and the boy next door reviewLola and the Boy Next Door is the second book in Stephanie Perkin’s loosely-linked young adult trilogy (Anna and the French Kiss, Lola and the Boy Next Door, Isla and the Happily Ever After)… it was good stuff, y’all. In fact, dare I say I liked it much better than Anna and the French Kiss? Lola is significantly more grounded than Anna, not emotionally, but just as far as personality and life situation – I had trouble fully identifying with both Anna and Etienne in French Kiss because their lives were so thoroughly privileged. Yes, they both had family troubles which made them more sympathetic, but I’ve never been a drop-dead gorgeous teenager who gets to attend boarding school in France, and I suspect most of the rest of us haven’t either. It was all just a little too much, a little too surreal and fairy-tale-like.

All of which is to say – Lola is much more identifiable – her family’s middle-class, she works a very average job at a movie theater, she’s pretty but not absolutely stunning, and she lives in San Francisco. (Side note: San Francisco as a setting was a delight, as I visit often and love that city. It’s under-utilized as a setting for American books).

Lola Nolan lives with her parents (two married men) in the Castro district in San Francisco, in a delightful if small house passed down by her grandmother. She has a smart, driven best friend and a steady boyfriend in the form of tattooed punk-rocker Max. Life for her is pretty good…until some old neighbors move back in and her life turns upside down. Calliope Bell was Lola’s best friend until she started becoming a star ice skater and dropped Lola for not being cool enough. Calliope’s twin brother Cricket, meanwhile, the soft-spoken, awkward foil to his sister’s shining light, was Lola’s first love. Their relationship ended abruptly (and, traumatically for Lola) almost before it began however, and Lola hasn’t seen either of the Bell twins for years.

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Book Review: The Elite by Kiera Cass

theeliteReading the Selection series is akin to watching Pretty Little Liars: you don’t know why you’re doing it, but somehow you can’t stop. The Elite is a very silly novel that replicates all the same weaknesses and limitations of the first novel, and yet is oddly entertaining despite that, mostly because there are bits of good romance.

America Singer lives in a future America dominated by a caste system. The government is not particularly oppressive, but the caste system is fixed, with every individual being born into a caste. Eights are the bottom, and do service work that no-one else wants to do; they are poor and often hungry. Ones are at the top, the wealthy, elite, and royalty. America is born into the creative caste, Five: musicians, singers, and entertainers. When her name is randomly chosen as one of 35 potential brides for the crown prince, she is ferried off the capital and a new life of glittering ballgowns and competing for the heart of the prince. 

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