My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Possibly one of the most open, frank and honest YA books I’ve come across. It’s not a perfect read but it’s one that challenges expectations and I’m sure will generate discussion around some very current and relevant issues.
Izzy O’Neill is an aspiring comic, an impoverished orphan, and a Slut Extraordinaire. Or at least, that’s what the malicious website flying round the school says. Izzy can try all she wants to laugh it off – after all, her sex life, her terms – but when pictures emerge of her doing the dirty with a politician’s son, her life suddenly becomes the centre of a national scandal. Izzy’s never been ashamed of herself before, and she’s not going to start now. But keeping her head up will take everything she has…
Hmmm… I have to admit I’m finding this book rather hard to rate and review. I do think it’s an important read, and I’d certainly recommend for the very current and very real issues it highlights but I’m not sure I would say I really enjoyed it.
It’s probably one of the most frank, open and honest books I’ve come across which is fantastic but it didn’t make for a particularly comfortable read. This is most definitely a good thing as it brings a lot of issues out into the open and makes you question your own views and judgments but I do feel like things were a little over exaggerated and the story occasionally lacked balance.
It possibly didn’t help that Izzy is pretty much the exact opposite of me, extroverted, always wanting to be the center of attention, open about everything, tells a lot of crude jokes and thinks nothing of getting drunk and having sex with someone (or two someones) she barely knows at a party. I couldn’t relate at all especially in the first half of the book and honestly if I met her in real life I’d be terrified (and probably a bit in awe) of her.
She is however the perfect character for this story as she challenges expectations. She’s not afraid to admit to what she does and is very open about her attitudes to sex and her body. I will admit I found some of her attitudes kind of shocking but only because it’s so completely different from what I know and expect, but again, I think this is the point. It shouldn’t be shocking for her to have those types of attitudes and my reaction just proves how ingrained this double standard is in our society.
There have been quite a few books recently which have dealt with this double standard, how boys will be boys while girls are sluts if they do, prudes if they don’t but I think this is the first book I’ve come across with a female character who is so sexually experienced and open about her enjoyment of sex. More often than not in these types of stories someone is falsely accused or slut shamed for something relatively minor like the way they look or a one off event. This book proposes the wild and wacky notion that actually some girls enjoy sex and are not ashamed of it (and they shouldn’t feel like they should be).
I also love how it raises the lesser known issue of the nice guy and the friend zone. The guy who believes you should be grateful to them (aka sleep with them) just because they’re decent and if you don’t there’s something wrong with you.
There’s a lot to think about in this book and it is a fast paced and easy read. I found my attitude towards Izzy changing over the course of the story and I really liked how she developed. I also have to say how much I loved the strong female relationships in the book, Izzy and BFF Ajita, Izzy and her grandmother and even Izzy’s relationship with a teacher.
There were a few elements that stretched credibility, I can’t believe this would have blown into such a big story and I can’t believe a school would act the way they did and there would be so little consequences for the person responsible for what is essentially revenge porn. I also found Izzy’s voice a little too extra at times but overall this is an excellent read.
Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me with an ARC. All views are my own.