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Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Review - Cracked Up To Be by Courtney Summers

Goodreads summary:
When "Perfect" Parker Fadley starts drinking at school and failing her classes, all of St. Peter's High goes on alert. How has the cheerleading captain, girlfriend of the most popular guy in school, consummate teacher's pet, and future valedictorian fallen so far from grace?

Parker doesn't want to talk about it. She'd just like to be left alone, to disappear, to be ignored. But her parents have placed her on suicide watch and her counselors are demanding the truth. Worse, there's a nice guy falling in love with her and he's making her feel things again when she'd really rather not be feeling anything at all.

Nobody would have guessed she'd turn out like this. But nobody knows the truth.

Something horrible has happened, and it just might be her fault.


Reader's crit: Having already read Summer's second book, Some Girls Are (review here), I was prepared to fall in love with this newbie author all over again, and well, CUTB fell just short of my expectations. This is partly my fault because I read half of the book during the day and then had to go to bed, but I was so curious as to what had actually happened to Parker that I read the ending before turning out the light. BBBAAAADDD! I cross my heart, hope to die, stick a needle in my eye that I will never do that again! Basically, I ruined it for myself because after I knew what had happened, I kept thinking "Why on earth would she do that?" and it didn't make sense to me until I read the rest of the book. Then it did make sense and I did buy it, but not as easily as I would have if I hadn't skipped ahead.

The other thing with CUTB was that the character wasn't really all that likable, which isn't always a necessity, but I kept asking myself if she was normally this way before the tragic thing occurred or was she always a bitch? Eventually the answer turns out to be that she kind of was always a bitch, and so I had to question whether I really cared if she overcame her problem.

Things that I really liked about the story itself - the guys. Ah, yes. Jake is just yummy and doesn't know when to give up, and Chris? Well, who doesn't love a guy who's still pining over his lost love, even if you're wondering why he liked her in the first place. And of course the voice and the writing, but more on that below. Now, you might think based on this review that I didn't like CUTB, but that's not the case. It just didn't hit the high expectations that I had having read Summer's other novel (review here) *push, nudge read the review* which I gave my highest score. I would still recommend CUTB because parts of it, especially the dialogue, were thoroughly enjoyable. It's worth picking up, especially if you *cough sputter cough* don't read the ending first. Score = 4.

Writer's crit: What I really like about Summer's writing is her voice. It stands out in the same vein that Laurie Halse Anderson's voice stands out. It's not the same as LHA by any means, it's just that it's distinctive, fresh and totally unique to this writer. I really enjoyed the dialogue, and the way that even though the story arc focuses around cheerleaders and their jock boyfriends, it's not at all cliche. As I mentioned above, I didn't really like the main character much. The problem I think is that I didn't see the character growing or changing, which is in sharp contrast to Summer's other book, SGA, where the main character grows by leaps and bounds. I didn't get the same sense of 'I want to change' from Parker. Like SGA, the ending seemed rather abrupt, but at the same time I liked that Parker and Jake didn't ride off into the sunset together. One thing I'd like to point out is Summer's courage in doing unlikable main characters. It didn't work so well for me here, but it did in SGA, and I do give her credit for trying. Also I have to give her credit for piquing my curiosity to the point where I had to read ahead. Overall writing score, weighted for voice, 4.5

4 comments:

Joann Swanson said...

Another awesome review. I've read the first pages of this novel and came up against that unlikeable protag issue. I have so little time to read (maybe a book every two weeks, if I'm very, very lucky one a week), so I have to be picky. I will definitely check out SGA, though!

mellymel said...

Wow, great review, Angie! So funny that you read the end like that. I have peeked into later parts of a story before, but never the end. This is still on my list of books to read, but I"m in the same boat as Joann and don't get to read as much as I'd like to.

However, and this is to anyone who has not read Some Girls Are, Angie was on my arse for weeks about this book, telling me that I HAD to get it and read it pronto. She was absolutely spot on. That book was fantastic and addicting and a real page turner. THANK YOU ANGIE!!!!

Angie said...

Aw Mel, you're making me blush. :)

JoAnn - definitely check out SGA. The protagonist again isn't very likable yet Summer's still manages to make you feel for her. It was rather puzzling to me at first, and I've come to the conclusion that it has to do with the sense of right and wrong. Even when we don't like someone, we still have an inherent sense that they shouldn't be wronged, and somehow Summers manages to hit that nail right on the head with SGA.

Nomes (inkcrush) said...

I agree with your comment here Angie :)

I've never read the ending first, haha. I think the reason I like this book so much is becuase of Jake and chris and the fact that i am shallow like that :)

plus, I love the tight pacing (moving between scenes) and the fact that Parker is such a b!tch, made her feel unpredictable which made me feel like anything could happen.

the actual mystery of it had enough clues that it didn't have my holding my breath.

love your reviews as always :)

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