YA Boys Usually Suck.

lara jean.jpg

Okay, I have a fatal flaw. A hamartia, some might say. My problem is that I read books. I have a lot of thoughts on them. (Positive and negative, but usually more of the latter.) And then I wait too long to write them down and I forget them.

So, to compromise for my fatal flaw, instead of writing long, thought-out, enticing book reviews that really demonstrate why I graduated summa cum laude with a degree in English, I will give you a few short, less detailed mini reviews of books I’ve read recently. Think tweets, but slightly longer.

 

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before; P.S. I Still Love You; and Always and Forever, Lara Jean — all by Jenny Han

The subtitle to this mini review is: Peter Kavinsky sucks. If you missed out on my thrilling Goodreads reviews of these three books, they can be summed up by the phrases “Peter Kavinsky sucks,” “Peter Kavinsky still sucks,” and “Decent ending. Peter Kavinsky still sucks.” And that’s all I have to say on the matter.

Just kidding, it’s not. But seriously, despite the other potential “love” interests in this series being incredibly dull (I put the term “love” in quotations because, come on…), at least they weren’t arrogant, territorial, emotional abusive assholes like Peter Kavinsky.

Other than that, this series was alright. I found Lara Jean to be very immature and just kind of annoying, but I guess I was also immature and probably very annoying in high school. The family dynamic was cool — I think the Song girls’ story developed in a realistic way. Kitty started out as a sort of Tiny Tim, impossible child stereotype, but I think she progressed and grew up gradually and believably.

Anyway, I think as far as young adult trilogies go, this was a pretty good one. I like Jenny Han’s style, but I’d like to see what she could do with a stand-alone. In fact, I think this would have made a better stand-alone.

Once and For All – by Sarah Dessen

Okay, apparently this is the summer of YA, because I rarely read YA these days. But Sarah Dessen is another story. I will continue to read her books when I am 80 years old (assuming human life expectancy has progressed drastically by then and she’s still writing books.)

This one? Eh. Not my favorite. Surprise, surprise, the romantic interest sucked. I’m sick of the spoiled, immature, kind-of-an-asshole, womanizer, rich kid trope. I really am. And that’s exactly what this book was. And while I’m on the topic of tropes I hate, can we please, please, please stop with the “main character is low key and introverted but her best friend is wild and boy crazy and constantly trying to get her to come out of her shell” trope. I get it, some relationships are like that. But not all of them have to be. I know it isn’t generally the author’s intention, but it begs the belief that being shy and introverted is good and being outgoing and liking to go to parties and on dates is bad. Both are fine within reason, so let’s stop inflicting otherwise on teenage girls.

And, in an effort to stop ranting, I do need to mention the big issue I had with this book, which was the way it dealt with trauma and mental health. I don’t think this is a spoiler because it’s revealed early on, but a character in the book loses someone they love in a school shooting. First of all, just because this is unfortunately “culturally relevant” doesn’t mean it has a right to be used as a one-dimensional plot line. This character lost someone, and there is no mention of therapy or counseling or grieving. Instead, the main “conflict” that’s addressed is “how am I going to put myself out there and find love again?” This is a possible concern, yes. But this is not everything. Honestly, if you’re going to use a very sensitive, very tragic subject as a plot device, it needs to have a message. I’m sorry, it just does.

So, despite all that ranting, this book had some redeeming qualities. The main character was likable. Her job working for her mother’s wedding planning business, her relationship with her mother and her mother’s business partner…all well done. But it’s more fun to hear about the stuff I didn’t like, right?

 

Alright, there were supposed to be a few more books in here, but I think this has gone on long enough, so I’ll make this post exclusive to YA and do another review soon. That means you can look forward to hearing my thoughts on The Handmaid’s Tale and The Sisters Chase in the very near future!

If you’ve ready any or all of these books, let me know your thoughts. If you disagree with mine, please (respectfully) tell me that, too.