Honest and lively YA book reviews
I have spent all week cleaning up vomit. Most of it canine. Some, I'd hazard to guess, feline. Sadly this is just the way the cookie crumbles when your pets get into the garbage. All there is left to do is shrug and grab the mop. Again. This is really not my favourite pet-care chore. In fact, it's my least favourite. It turns my stomach. As a nurse, there's not a lot of bodily fluids that have this effect on me. I'd like to think I've mostly suppressed my disgust reflex. But vomit? No. Never. However, I would gladly wipe up puke off the floor all day long than ever subject myself to Adorkable by Sarra Manning again. Ever. This book caused me pain.
That old familiar jaw-ache reared it's ugly head when I was first introduced to our delightful main character and co-narrator, Jeane Smith. Jeane is super cool and totes amazeballs at life. That is, if your definition of cool is being completely vile to anyone who wanders into your vicinity, purposely dressing as if you are colour blind or insane or just really lazy with your laundry and cultivating a deep seated, frightening superiority complex.
Jeane's a self sufficient, 17 year old living in London and running her online empire - Adorkable: the brand, from her living room. She has all the usual "boy trouble", school shit and in the end discovers that it's okay to be different. That's pretty much it. This book is very poorly plotted. There's way too much of Jeane sounding off, Jeane being cruel and abrasive and Jeane verbally and mentally abusing her peers, to fit much actual story line in there. There are a lot of threads begun and then just left loose to flap. Like Jeane's uncomfortable situation with her family which she mentions a few times but makes no move to resolve, or her awkward relationship with her ex-boyfriend who she swears she's still best buds with but never calls, never thinks about and never really sees again. But she does find the time to squeeze in a "relationship" with the most totes amazeballs guy in school, Michael (our second co-narrator) who also happens to be just about the most boring guy ever to breathe. He's wheeled along behind her, cowering from the blindingly, brilliant light of her sheer awesomeness as they half heartedly toss a few bland jokes and insults back and forth. It really is pitiful. The worst of it is that Michael isn't only dull and pathetic. He's also an arrogant self absorbed dick:
"I don't want to sound bigheaded but I could go out with pretty much any girl at our school - in fact any girl at any school in our borough. The fact that I chose Scarlett should have given her a huge shot of confidence and she could have shown a little gratitude too."
Yes. This is for reals. After he breaks up with Scarlett (delightfully shortened to Scar) and begins sucking the face off Jeane in his spare time, we learn that he doesn't think much of her either:
"the more time I spent with her, the more immune I became to the hot mess that she looked. Not even a hot mess, which implied some kind of hotness, just a mess"
These nippy inner-Michael-monologues are a dime a dozen in this book. He's making out with Jeane but he's thinking -
"I hate her stupid grey hair and her disgusting polyester clothes. I hate how she goes out of her way to make herself look as unattractive as possible but still wants everyone to notice her. She should just wear a t-shirt with "Everyone! Pay attention to me now! Right now!" printed on it."
To be fair, this is a reasonably accurate description of Jeane's attitude, but then I can say that as an impartial witness to the whole debacle. Unlike Michael who is regularly hooking up with the chick. I don't understand how he can rip her to shreds in his head and then expect Jeane to, as she so delicately puts it: "spend my lunch hour eating Michael Lees's mouth off his face" Yuck.
The romance (if we can call it that) in this book really is loathsome. We've got Jeane spinning around in her own little universe, completely oblivious to the needs and feelings of others and then we've got Michael scraping, around to find two brain cells to use, thrown together for no particular reason doing this awkward hot-boy-falls-for-geeky-girl dance. It's so stilted and uncomfortable. And pointless. Like, why is this even happening? The big revelation Jeane has at the end seems so disconnected and disjointed with everything else that's happened in the book it could have come about as a result of Jeane discovering she has no milk left. Or that everyone has switched off their phone. Basically Jeane discovers that she is alone in the world. She's behaved like such a bitch for so long that she's pushed everyone away and so she decides it's because she's weird and dresses like a student in their first year of clown college. So she dyes her hair brown and starts wearing jeans!! Shock horror!! Can you imagine?!! Jeane wearing jeans?!! What's happening to the world?!! Then of course she realises that everyone loved her the way she was - grey hair, orange tights and all. Uhm ..... No they didn't:
"Everyone talks about her, or about her revolting clothes and the arguments she picks with teachers in every single one of her classes, but no-one talks to her because if you try to, you find yourself on the business end of some serious snark and a superior stare."
So of course, this is all glossed over and Jeane goes back to being her hateful, stuck up irritating-as-fuck self. She learns nothing, except of course that she was right. But then she knew that anyway. She's always right. It's everyone else who's wrong. Jeane calls herself a feminist. Feminism isn't about renouncing your female traits. It isn't about hating men and being bull-headedly independent and being disgusted when someone holds a door open for you, as Jeane seems to think. It's about equality. It's about equal rights for men and women. Jeane doesn't hold value in equal rights for anyone because in the world according to Jeane, hers is the only opinion that matters. There's some serious girl hate going on in this book. Jeane despises anyone who isn't exactly like her, so naturally all the girls at her school get it in the neck. Apparently every girl that Jeane goes to school with is either stupid, a slut or too boring for Jeane to lay eyes on without rolling them (her eyes that is, not her classmates ..... ) This is appalling. Everyone has value, and everyone's opinion is valid. It's totally unacceptable for Jeane to piss on everyone simply because they don't agree with her. Jeane is a horrible role model. And yet, in Adorkable thats exactly what she is for tens of thousands of people on the internet through her website and through Twitter. She receives fan mail like:
"Every time you post a blog, you change someone's life. I promise you. You changed mine."
If only they knew the satisfaction she gets from publicly humiliating her classmates and making others feel small, would she be changing lives then? Would she be asked to make speeches about boosting self esteem at a conference if everyone discovered how much joy it brings her to stomp on other people's self confidence? No. I didn't think so. Jeane is a violently poorly thought out character. Her values and beliefs are completely at odds with her behaviour.
She berates the act of judging anyone by appearances and yet, everyone in this book is judged on appearances. It's very tiring. Anyone who wears Topshop, according to Jeane is the devil incarnate. She only shops at thrift stores and so anyone who doesn't is a slut and a whore and a bimbo. Riiiight .... Because that's what really matters - the clothes you throw on in the morning. Michael gets picked on incessantly because he likes to wear American Apparel shirts and Converse trainers. As if it really matters?! Never mind that he's studying A level physics or that he's captain of the soccer team. Urgh - he's wearing a Hollister shirt, get him!! Boo!! Hiss!! Jeane's main problem is that she has built herself into her brand, Adorkable. She's different because that's what sells, not because it's natural or comfortable for her. She's portraying a fake and faddy image because it makes her money and it gets her places. She is what she hates - conformist because she's giving her "fans" what they want, and dishonest because she's not created this image for any other reason than to earn her notoriety. It's got jack shit to do with "being herself" or standing up to people who bully those who are different.
I think the book forgot the message it was trying to convey - it was supposed to say "Hey, it's okay to be different." Instead it told us "Burn to the ground the houses of those who conform. You'll know who they are by their abundance of Abercrombie & Fitch t-shirts." Yeah - Adorkable? Go home. You are drunk.
Happy Friday everyone!! See y'all after!!