In One Line: a hot mess of intense Feels, with a touch of the Mean Girls.
- Pure feels. Prepare to be punched in the stomach people. You’ll want to have something light and fluffy ready to read for afters!
- I feel that Jem is a real person. In fact I feel that all the characters in this novel are real people. I could see so many people I knew in this, to the extent that it rather creeped me out! But it’s Jem’s flaws in particular that I loved. To be able to write a character so flawed, and yet so relateable is a real achievement. One that I’m not jealous of at all. No siree. Not jealous.
- From experience, I know that writing groups of people is really difficult. It’s a bit like juggling, with all the balls in the air at the same time. Well, I think Cat Clarke juggles really well. I think maybe in reality a group of popular kids would have been a bit bigger than the one depicted here, but if there were any more characters to write about the juggling would have been significantly more difficult!
- Realistic teen sexytimes! Ok maybe I thought that perhaps Jem took her bra off a little too quickly, and when she first gets together with Lucas she does something and my first reaction was “how would she even know how to do that?” But otherwise the sexytimes in this novel are pretty much spot on. And they don’t feel at all gratuitous, which is saying something because they are really quite graphic.
- Kai’s letters are a wonderful way to pace this novel. Twelve letters, one to be opened each month, means that we get the span of a year in which to watch Jem unravel. It’s a clever idea, I just wish that the letters would tell us more. I’m not sure of what exactly, but I couldn’t help but feel let down by some of the content, particularly the last few letters. I can’t remember which one it is, but there was one letter in particular that made me go “really? Is that it?!”
- I think that if you’re of a particularly sensitive nature, you might want to leave this book alone. It’s not for the fragile-minded.
- There are a few lost characters, particularly the few that sit on the periphery of the main focus of the novel. I know that’s a bit the fault of the narrator, who is very single-minded, but I did find myself thinking about the other kids that are mentioned and then forgotten, like Bland Boy and Bland Girl, or Jasmine. What happened to them?
- There is a certain sense of predictability. In fact I did guess one of the twists very early on, despite usually being quite bad at guessing these type of things. However, and it’s a big HOWEVER, even thinking I knew exactly what was happening did not prepare me for the shocker of the ending.
Forbidden by Tabitha Sazuma
You Against Me by Jenny Downham