Publisher: Whole Story Audiobooks
Publishing Date: 1 Jun 2012
Format: Audio Book (unabridged)
Jeane Smith has half a million followers on Twitter, runs her own lifestyle brand based on being dorky, but lives on her own and has no real-life friends. Michael Lee is handsome, athletic, has good grades, and doesn’t see the point in being internet famous when you’re real-life popular. Two people at the opposite ends of the high school social spectrum are thrown together when their respective boyfriend/girlfriend stumble into a relationship. They hate each other and fight all the time, but can’t stop making out or developing their own rollercoaster relationship.
This book is about pop culture. It’s about slang (totes, whatevs) and memes (dogs on surfboards) and fashion (bright orange tights and iron-grey hair) and finding an actual individual voice among all the special snowflakes who rebel just do be different. Manning’s prose is clean (as in not many errors, not no sex) and her plot, although completely predictable, was enjoyable. The relationship developed really well – the only thing I didn’t like was the sudden flip from enemies to making out. Everything else I loved, including a rare sex scene in YA fiction – and realistic at that! And a girl who knows what she wants, and isn’t just some wilting flower waiting for the man to take charge. It was amazeballs.
Manning’s writing is very good –but what really made this book for me was the AMAZING delivery from the two narrators: Penelope Rawlins as Jeane’s voice and Daniel Coonan as Michael. Oh, they were swoon-worthy. Penelope had Jeane spot on with her very monotone, condescending dialogue and her impressions of other characters (and accents!). Her portrayal of Jeane’s inner monologue was flawless – very snarky and stuck-up but also individualistic with a certain amount of vulnerability behind all her parading LOOK AT ME I’M SO DIFFERENT A SPECIAL. And Coonan as Michael was just incredible. I’m not sure whether I would have liked Michael as much if I’d just read the novel, because Coonan injected Michael with so much warmth, humour and honesty. Michael thinks Jeane is an ugly bitch, and says so several times. But he was just so likeable. And they are both so damned flawed that they’re totes realistic. They embarrass each other! Their relationship dramas come from internal conflict and poor communication, which is of course very realistic.
I hated Jeane and found Michael much more sympathetic, but I still enjoyed reading her story. She was an entitled bitch who thought she knew better than everyone and even convinced her parents to get a divorce! Because Jeane is SO special that she’s cleverer than everyone else, too, and knows what is best for everyone! And oh, but no one at school likes her because she’s a freak, but everyone secretly loves her dorky lifestyle choice and admires her bravery. Blah! Oh but poor Jeane, because she’s an emaciated teen and has no real life friends. But then there’s Michael! But they have to keep the relationship a secret. But Jeane’s a freak because she doesn’t fit in! But then everyone convinces Jeane she’s amazing just because she doesn’t fit in! And everyone thinks she’s so brave for being so different… just blah. I don’t like Jeane. Despite being short and stocky with wobbly bits and a healthy attitude to sex, she needed a very hard punch in the face. She’s way manipulative and thinks everything is about her: her parents’ divorce, her sister’s pregnancy, even all of Michael’s stuff. It’s all about Jeane, because she’s such an individual and so special! But despite my dislike of Jeane, I found both her and Michael to be incredibly three-dimensional, well rounded and realistic characters. The kind you don’t find often in YA.
Overall I enjoyed the book, especially listening to it. I can’t wait to listen to it again, actually. My intense dislike for Jeane doesn’t detract from my enjoyment at all. And Michael? Well, he’s officially a Book Boyfriend. And I don’t hand that title out to just anyone…