Wednesday, 30 May 2012
Review: Adorkable - Sarra Manning
Pages: 387 pages, paperback
Acquired: Purchased myself
Summary (from Goodreads): Jeane Smith is seventeen and has turned her self-styled dorkiness into an art form, a lifestyle choice and a profitable website and consultancy business. She writes a style column for a Japanese teen magazine and came number seven in The Guardian's 30 People Under 30 Who Are Changing The World.
And yet, in spite of the accolades, hundreds of Internet friendships and a cool boyfriend, she feels inexplicably lonely, a situation made infinitely worse when Michael Lee, the most mass-market, popular and predictably all-rounded boy at school tells Jeane of his suspicion that Jeane's boyfriend is secretly seeing his girlfriend. Michael and Jeane have NOTHING in common - she is cool and individual; he is the golden boy in an Abercrombie & Fitch T-shirt. So why can't she stop talking to him?
My review: Ever since I first fell in love with Dylan and Edie between the pages of J17 I've been a huge fan of Sarra Manning. I still have my frayed little paperbacks of the Diary of the Crush books that I got free with the magazine and I've bought and read pretty much every single thing she's had published since then. When I met her at the Atom blogger event last year and we talked Toddlers and Tiaras I definitely unlocked a life goal achievement. In short, I'm a big fan.
I've been waiting for Adorkable to be released ever since it first came on my radar last year, I pre-ordered my copy months ago and dived into the story as soon as it clattered through my letter box. Now, I devoured Adorkable in a matter of hours and found myself laughing out loud one moment, then full on crying the next. Yes, another one to add to the list of books that made me cry and smudge my eyeliner.
Jeane is one of the most unique characters I've come across in YA fiction for a long time. She's original and quirky (I abhor the work 'quirky' with every fibre of my being, just so you know) to the point that she probably should be annoying but she was flawed and likeable enough that I couldn't help but warm to her. She admits that she's so desperate to stand out that she shuns anything popular and mainstream and it was her honesty that made me root for her. Also, her snark. There are so many layers to Jeane that she's definitely a realistic character. At first it seems as though she has everything but as we learn more about her family, her past and her present situation, we begin to realise that she's actual a very fragile, very lonely girl who needs somebody to look out for her.
Michael and Jeane's relationship was one of the highlights of Adorkable. They fight like enemies but can't keep their hands off of each other. The sexual tension was fantastic and I love that Manning didn't shy away from sex scenes - THANK YOU for the sexytimes. Finally, an actual depiction of sex that doesn't make me want to sling the book across the room because it's so cringe/poorly written/Fifty Shades of Shit. It was great to see Jeane and Michael getting to know each other as Adorkable progressed and I like that their relationship wasn't plain sailing from beginning to end, they have highs and lows just like any other fledgling relationship. I thought Michael's chapters were great, especially when we got to read his thoughts into Jeane's look and Adorkable lifestyle - I thought his reaction was much more realistic than if he'd accepted everything right off the bat and hadn't cared about what his friends thought of Jeane's neon tights and grey rinse. He's a teenage boy, yo.
There are so many references to social media, bands and designers that teens are going to eat this one up. I'm not sure that the pop culture references will date Adorkable, either, which is good. I loved the roller derby references big time! Every single one led to me losing a big chunk of my afternoon to watching roller derby compliation videos on Youtube, which, to be honest, is not a bad way to spend two hours.
The message in Adorkable is loud and clear: Be yourself, not anybody else. Embrace who you are and keep your integrity. It's a great motto for anybody and I think this will have a particularly positive effect on teens as it isn't preachy but perfectly integrated into Jeane's story. The way Jeane develops throughout the novel is brilliant and I adored the ending - obviously I won't give anything away but I think it was the perfect way to end a fantastic story.
To be honest, the only downside of Adorkable is that I know scores of girls are sure to declare themselves as being 'JUST LIKE JEANE BECAUSE I'M SO QUIRKY OMGZZZ' all over Twitter and Tumblr, which makes me want to die a little inside. None of us are like Jeane, as Jeane is like none of us. Surely that's the real Adorkable message, right?
First line: We have nothing to declare but our dorkiness.
Total: 17/20 (A)