Saturday, April 30, 2011

Book Review: The Boyfriend List, by E. Lockhart

Photo by Lucas Cobb (slightly scary, slightly cute, yes?)

Ruby Oliver is a social outcast. She tried to get back with her ex-boyfriend, when he was dating one of her best friends, and now none of them are speaking to her. Most people at school are avoiding her. And so she starts having panic attacks. Her parents send her to Doctor Z, who tells her to write The Boyfriend List – a chronological list of all the boys she’s ever dated, liked, kissed, or shared a rumour with – and they work through it at their appointments. In-between meetings with Doctor Z, Ruby tells us more stories, goes to school, and manages to make things worse.

I love The Boyfriend List. It is one of the best teen/YA novels that I have ever read. It’s so good that I read it and then spent a year wanting to review it, but procrastinating instead because I was worried about doing it justice. I recently read it again, and decided that it was time to have a go at the review, because the world just needs my ravings about the wonders of The Boyfriend List. To make it a little easier for myself at first, I decided not to go straight into my usual review format, but to write a list of things I loved about the book instead. I was just going to use this to get a draft done, and then edit it into a more regular shape, but I think it fits the book better than my standard review style.

So I give you:

Ten Things I Love About The Boyfriend List
  1. Ruby lives on a houseboat. A houseboat! I stayed on a houseboat for a week and it was great. Apart from the couple of occasions that it nearly crashed into other boats/the side of the canal. 
  2. The characterisation is amazing. There are loads of characters but even the minor ones are introduced with memorable details, so it’s not hard to keep track. Ruby’s mother is a performance artist, and her father runs a gardening newsletter and mail-order seed business. Her ex-boyfriend, Jackson, used to give her model frogs. Kim’s parents are both doctors. Hutch is into vintage heavy metal. Those are just a few iceberg tips.
  3. Ruby is a brilliant narrator. She’s funny, she’s overdramatic, she’s intelligent but frequently completely oblivious to consequences, and I can feel my mind growing as hers does over the course of the book. Her relationships with the other characters are very true to life.
  4. There are several totally crushworthy boys. Finn. Angelo. Gideon. Shiv. Noel. NOEL. And they’re not all the same ‘type’ either, they’re all really different. Each chapter is named after one of the boys on the list, so don’t worry, you will learn about them all!
  5. Ruby’s friends are all really different and interesting too. I was especially intrigued by Nora and I hope we get to find out more about her in the other books.
  6. Jackson, Ruby’s ex, is perfect for loving-to-hate. He’s such a slimeball. And yet at times I wondered if he actually means to be evil, or if he just doesn’t understand how much he hurts other people, or isn’t mature enough to properly care.
  7. The mysterious Doctor Z. With her ponchos and occasional thoughtful prompts, both of which comically infuriate Ruby.
  8. The footnotes, which are an ingenious way of including the tangents that a person would naturally go off on, if they were telling you a story in a conversation, without truly interrupting the main goings-on.
  9. It’s just as great the second time around. On my second reading of The Boyfriend List, I noticed quite a few things that I didn’t notice the first time I read it. Cue more even more exclaiming aloud that E. Lockhart is a genius.
  10. It’s just the first in the series! There are three other books!
How did you find this unorthodox review? Did it make you want to read The Boyfriend List? I really hope so! If you want more reviewy goodness, try:

Heather's Goodreads review, which I completely agree with. The Boyfriend List is a serious, painless, totally enjoyable educational experience.

Review by Lauren of I Was A Teenage Book Geek

The BookDepository

Book Review: If I Stay, by Gayle Forman

Photo by jay~dee

It’s a snowy day in Oregon, and so Mia and her brother Teddy have the day off school. Her father is a teacher, and her mother doesn’t want to be the only one working, so they decide to make the most of the day and go visit some friends. They all get into the car, but, on the road, a truck crashes into their vehicle.

The next thing Mia knows, she’s standing at the side of the road, looking at the wreck of the car. But how can she be standing there, when moments before she was inside the car, pretending to be playing cello along to the radio? She finds her body, and realises that she’s some kind of ghost. All she can do is follow as her body is taken away to hospital, watching and listening to doctors, nurses, relatives, and friends as they visit her. Or that’s what she thinks at first. But soon she finds out that she has a decision to make. To follow her parents, or to live on, to stay.

If I Stay has been a huge hit amongst book bloggers, so I had decided a while ago that it was something that I wanted to read. However, I wasn’t expecting to like it as much as I did. I don’t usually choose to read books that I know will be sad. I don’t mind if I’m reading a book that happens to have some tear-inducing sections, but I wouldn’t ordinarily pick out a book about death, for instance. Just the title of Before I Die makes me cringe away! I guess I have this preconceived notion that books about an issue like death will be bleak and depressing all the way through.

To say that If I Stay is a sad book to read would be the understatement of the flipping decade! Mia has a wonderful family, and they die! She has her whole life ahead of her, and she’s considering leaving it behind! Tears came to my eyes at least four times whilst I was reading it. However, If I Stay was not relentlessly sad all the way through. When I was reading about Mia’s family, or her relationship with Adam, I would forget for a couple of pages that it was all doomed, and enjoy it as naturally as I would if those scenes had appeared in any other novel. But then we’d be back to Mia at the hospital, and the tragedy would seem all the more tragic. Also, because Mia’s friends and remaining family members were so brilliant, I couldn’t help but hope that she wouldn’t choose to go. I wanted her to stay, as hard as that would be for her to live through, and that kept me reading on.

I really loved the characters. I liked that the teenage characters were relatively mature (though it made the events all the more devastating). I adored all the quirks, from Mia’s dad’s bow ties, to her grandmother’s obsession with angels and returning spirits in animal forms. Even the nurses had individual traits, which made every one that much more memorable, and made the story seem fully fleshed out. I also really liked the role that music played in the story, and the writing was beautiful, with the descriptions and Mia’s thoughts balanced out nicely by dialogue.

I was gripped from the start of If I Stay to the finish, and I am looking forward to reading more books by the author. I would recommend it to anyone who doesn’t mind crying a little bit whilst reading!

Review by Luisa at Chicklish

Review at So Many Books, So Little Time

The BookDepository


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