“I think you should know that I make up a lot of stuff up in my head and then get sad about it. I like to sleep and I like to blog. I am going to die someday.”
Author: Alice Oseman
Publisher: Harper Collins Children’s Books UK
Genre: Contemporary / Romance/ Young Adult
Page number: 392
Synopsis (from Goodreads)
In case you’re wondering, this is not a love story.
My name is Tori Spring. I like to sleep and I like to blog. Last year – before all that stuff with Charlie and before I had to face the harsh realities of A-Levels and university applications and the fact that one day I really will have to start talking to people – I had friends. Things were very different, I guess, but that’s all over now.
Now there’s Solitaire. And Michael Holden.
I don’t know what Solitaire are trying to do, and I don’t care about Michael Holden.
I really don’t.
You know that feeling when you really want to like a book, but you just…don’t?
I should start off by saying that one of the worst things that could exist in a book is an annoying main character – and that, sadly, is exactly what Tori is. She’s selfish, unnecessarily rude, and trying way too hard to get pity from the reader. She has a mental illness which is never directly mentioned throughout the whole novel, and I don’t know how the reader is supposed to magically know what it is. Sure, some may recognise the symptoms (although other reviewers have pointed out that they are hardly that) but authors need to understand that readers aren’t walking encyclopedias. We can’t always guess if a character has a mental illness, or what it is, especially if our experience with it is minimal. I once read a book where the main character was supposed to be bipolar, but that was hardly ever mentioned and I didn’t find out he was until I read others’ reviews about it. That hardly counts as representation.
Speaking of representation…there is a disorder that is mentioned, except it’s made fun of.
Tori actually makes fun of an anorexic girl because she sees her reading The Hunger Games. I can’t tell you how disgusted I was. We’re supposed to feel ‘sorry’ for Tori because, “Oh, poor girl, she’s so broken she can’t even smile anymore,” but excuse her when she makes these judgmental comments? She goes around criticising everyone for the most ridiculous reasons like going to parties or wearing a certain type of clothing. She’s supposed to be suffering from low self-esteem, but she acts like a self-absorbed queen bee.
As if that weren’t enough self-contradiction, a few chapters into the novel we are introduced to Lucas, Tori’s childhood best friend whom she hadn’t seen in years. She expresses happiness upon seeing him, and the will to catch up and become good ol’ buddies again.
And then she proceeds to ignore him and snap at him for the rest of the book.
And poor Lucas is never anything but nice! He never insults her, and in fact always seems especially shy around her, and Tori can see this – but she decides to be spiteful towards him and put him down just because! Wow, why is Tori not my favourite character again?
Don’t ask me about Michael, because I seriously have no clue what I’m supposed to think of him. He was interesting at first, until he became annoying too, especially when I couldn’t even make out what type of person he’s supposed to be.
And then there’s Solitaire.
In the book, Solitaire is supposed to be this top-secret group that brings ‘justice’ to teenagers (or something like that.) They’re oh-so-feared because they can play music on speakers without the school’s permission and hack the computers in the computer lab to have them type out a message in MS Word. (Also, uh…don’t schools networks have, like, firewalls or something?)
Am I the only one who found them extremely childish? And when the perpetrators were finally revealed, it just felt like an even bigger joke. And don’t even get me started on their final act. It just made all teenagers seem like immature delinquents who want to “get revenge” on society because of the “faulty education system”. Don’t get me wrong, a lot of education systems are messed up, and I’d love to see some change going on, but please tell me how Solitaire’s act was supposed to fix that.
I don’t think these characters realise how privileged they are. They seem to complain about everything (*cough* Tori and Michael *cough*). The teenagers in this book think they’re above all, that they’re doing everything right, that they’re so deep and real we should be idolising them. It’s sickening.
I think the main reason I stuck with this book was for Nick and Charlie. Now if the book was about them, that would’ve been awesome, because I felt like they really had a story to tell. (I know there’s a comic and a novella about them, but that’s besides the point.)
So, in a nutshell: haughty main character, ridiculous love interest, poor representation. Oh, and the fact that every teenager absolutely loathes school and wants to tear it down brick by brick.
That sounds accurate.
Have you read Solitaire? What are your thoughts?