Friday, May 24, 2013

Celebrating Series 1: Diary of a Crush

I decided a month or so ago that I wanted to start a new regular feature, and after a few ideas my mind turned to series. I've always loved reading series. I like falling in love with characters and following them over multiple adventures, seeing where the stories take them and how they grow and change. I'm addicted to the thrill of opening the next book and finding out where the characters have got to.

However, I often neglect them. It's easier to pick up a standalone and review it, especially if you've read it before. Series require upkeep and hours of rereading if you really want to do them justice in a review, and that's where this feature comes in. Celebrating Series posts will be overviews, rather than detailed reviews of each book. This will allow me to share my enthusiasm for series I've read in the past, even when it isn't convenient for me to re-read every book. I can also use them to spotlight series that I've already reviewed, when I think they deserve a bit more praise and attention.

I can even use them to kick off themed weeks, like I am doing here!

 Diary of a Crush, in all the forms I own! From the top: Atom's new edition of French Kiss, free with J-17 books Losing It and American Dream, the first Bite editions of the trilogy, and finally, my J-17s! I still love the puntastic, content-relevant spines. 'Same Old Brand New 'Do' will probably make no sense if you were born after 1989 or not in the UK...

I chose the Diary of a Crush trilogy for my first Celebrating Series week, because a) it will be back in print next Thursday, and b) to force myself to stop procrastinating on my reviews!

The series is about a girl named Edie who moves to Manchester from Brighton and develops a crush on Dylan, a beautiful but moody art student (or artboy, for short). Her feelings are so strong that she can't help feeling painfully awkward whenever she's around him or his friends. While working together on a photography project he kisses her, only to start ignoring her almost immediately afterwards. With Dylan switching from hot to cold all the time, and her new friend Mia tugging her into a whirlwind of drama, Edie quickly starts getting fed up of being a shy pushover. The three books deal with the not always lovely reality of being in a relationship, from difficult beginnings to adult decisions, and each of them involve some kind of travelling. French Kiss, naturally, features a college trip to Paris, Kiss and Make-Up, a music festival, and Sealed with a Kiss, a roadtrip across the USA.

This is one of my favourite series of all time, and I have read the books so many times I have lost count. I spent most of my teen years wanting to be Edie, and wanting to date Dylan. When I started reading YA again as an adult, with my newly developed critical eyes, I read lighthearted books and serious books, books about families and books about boyfriends. Quickly, I worked out what I enjoyed the most, and what spoke to the part of me that is stuck forever in her teens. The books I loved had something special about them, the same thing that made me obsess over Diary of a Crush. Eventually I worked out what it was, and why I loved it so much more than almost any other teen book I'd read. It's aspirational.

To my mind, aspiration means something more than wanting the hot boyfriend, though of course Diary of a Crush made me want to snog an artboy - I defy anyone to read it and not want to start hanging around the Tate Modern to check out the eye candy (greatly recommended as a post-Diary of a Crush adventure, have done it multiple times). I coveted Edie's life. I was jealous of her job and band and friendship with Shona and Poppy. It made me want to have more friends and to go places and do creative things.

Honestly, the nostalgic love I have for these books means that I struggle to say anything negative about them. I think that objectively, Let's Get Lost, Nobody's Girl and Adorkable are better written, and it does slightly bug me that some of Edie's friends from the first book disappear or almost disappear later on, but these are the books that gave us Dylan and that started Sarra Manning off on the glorious path of writing books about people who kiss first and engage the brain cell later, and more importantly, girls who grow in confidence as they grow in experience. I will always have a crush on Diary of a Crush.

Next up: I review the new edition of French Kiss and ruminate upon the fact that artboys were actually better dressed in the mid-noughties...

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