Over at Shapely Prose, Fillyjonk started an “Overrated List” Meme. Because I am short on content and long on boredom, I thought I’d do a YA edition:
1. Sarah Dessen, Just Listen
The Summary: Main character is ostracized by former friends and becomes increasingly close to campus weirdo. Her sister is an anorexic. Former friends ostracize her because she allegedly “came on” to one of their boyfriends. SPOILER! The boyfriend is actually a sexual predator.
The Complaint: I think Dessen’s a talented writer and I loved This Lullaby and Dreamland, but this seemed so…issue-y. In a way that Dreamland, which was about domestic violence, didn’t. Also, the narrative voice grated on my nerves because it seemed so self-concious and affected.
2. John Green, Looking for Alaska
The Summary: Boy goes to boarding school and falls in love with quirky, troubled girl named Alaska. She dies. He wants to find out why.
The Complaint: An Abundance of Katherines is hilarious and Paper Towns might actually be brilliant, but Green’s first novel is about Very Important Issues and contains a mystery that is no mystery at all to anyone with something resembling common sense. I’m glad it got him a publishing deal, because I love his subsequent books, but I do not get why people like this. Or rather, I get why teenagers like it, because I read Lurlene McDaniel and cannot judge, but adults? WHY? How is this different from any other tear-jerker?
3. Kathleen Duey, Skin Hunger
The Summary: Screw you guys, I already wrote it.
The Complaint: Uh…okay. Stilted prose, flat female protagonist, and ENDLESS MISERY FOR ALL. Why did people wax orgasmic over this one again? I mean, I was interested and I’ll check out the next book, but seriously: the only thing that sets this novel apart from the rest of YA fantasy is Duey’s willingness to kill tertiary characters in horrible ways.
4.) M.T. Anderson, The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nation
The Summary: Boy lives with a society of scientists who run endless tests on him in 1700s America. If I told you anything else, I’d ruin the book for you.
The Complaint: I feel so fucking bad for putting this one on the list, guys, but seriously: this is a brilliant concept that (I feel) is kneecapped by BORING execution. When Octavian narrates, it’s all good, but when that other character–seriously, I can’t even remember his name–takes over, I zoned out. For the rest of the book. Which I could not finish, because I looked and saw that Octavian never took back over.
WHY GOD WHY?