Kind of a Big Deal by Shannon Hale

Kind of a Big Deal by Shannon HaleKind of a Big Deal by Shannon Hale
Narrator: Amanda Dolan
Published by MacMillan Audio
Published on 25th August 2020
Genres: Action & Adventure, Contemporary, Fantasy, Humorous Stories, New Adult, Performing Arts, United States, Young Adult
Format: Audiobook
Source: my local library
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RRP: $18.99
4 Stars

From Shannon Hale, bestselling author of Austenland, comes Kind of a Big Deal: a hilarious, madcap story that will suck you in—literally.
There's nothing worse than peaking in high school. Nobody knows that better than Josie Pie.
She was kind of a big deal—she dropped out of high school to be a star! But the bigger you are, the harder you fall. And Josie fell. Hard. Ouch. Broadway dream: dead.
Meanwhile, her life keeps imploding. Best friend: distant. Boyfriend: busy. Mom: not playing with a full deck? Desperate to escape, Josie gets into reading.
Literally. She reads a book and suddenly she's inside it. And with each book, she’s a different character: a post-apocalyptic heroine, the lead in a YA rom-com, a 17th century wench in a corset.
It’s alarming. But also . . . kind of amazing?
It’s the perfect way to live out her fantasies. Book after book, Josie the failed star finds a new way to shine. But the longer she stays in a story, the harder it becomes to escape.
Will Josie find a story so good that she just stays forever?

When I first red this book’s blurb, I was pretty excited. A book about going into and experiencing other stories! Pretty cool concept!

Then, after I borrowed this audiobook from my library and started listening to it, I saw a couple of reviews that were not so favourable.

I honestly do not understand all the negative reviews that say, “Great concept, poor execution.”

I really enjoyed this.

I should mention that I am a music theatre nerd, so this appealed to me in my very soul, although the latest musical mentioned seemed to be Wicked and there has been lots of great musicals since then.

It’s a really great story about yearning and ambition, how fantasies can suck you in, how real life, with all its mundane boredom, is better than some fake fantasy where everyone adores and worships you without you having earned it. I can get how lots of people who have never been worshipped and adored want to experience this, but I think whether you will enjoy this is based on what kind of a person you are: the kind who wants to earn what they achieve or the kind of person who wants a shortcut – and be honest, those shortcut people do exist, let’s not pretend they don’t. Some people get a kick out of winning even if they cheat.

Josie is not particularly likeable but that doesn’t mean the book is automatically bad. It was so well written and funny that even when Josie was being an insufferable brat I really enjoyed it. Josie was so self-absorbed and obsessed with her high school highlights, but through the course of the book she grew and learned that high school doesn’t have to define you, that she wasn’t going to be the star she wanted to be. Josie experiments with falling into and out of books, she learns and tries again. It takes time for her to figure out the trigger and control the process. Each book gives her something she needs to grow as a character, as well as something she wants. She grows powerfully, driven by her teenage desires. Each book gave her a bit more to reflect on and look back on her path to self-discovery. I think the moments of self-discovery were by far the most interesting parts – this means that the most interesting parts aren’t action-filled fight scenes, but introverted reflections and realisations, which I really liked, because it shows Josie’s growth.

It’s not a romance. There are romantic-type things that happen – a bit of kissing – but it’s NOT a romance. The person Josie is romancing is not her actual boyfriend, just different book characters wearing his face. The real guy shows up at the end, but this is NOT a romance, so don’t expect any kind of romantic development. I didn’t, and I enjoyed it just fine.

It’s so much fun! And ridiculous. Like, don’t take it too seriously, you might hurt yourself rolling your eyes.

“Josie let out a breath that she didn’t know she’d been holding. And since people only did that in books, this was another irrefutable piece of evidence that she was, in fact, in a book.”

I can’t believe negative reviews say “JOSIE GAVE UP ON HER DREAM” like it’s a bad thing. No, Josie did not give up on her dream. Josie’s dream changed because of the events of the book, contributing to her character growth. Like how in Tangled, Flynn’s dream was to buy his own island, but that changed when he fell in love with Rapunzel.

Josie’s dream was to be a star, but she realised – after her character growth and development through her jaunt in the various novels – that being a star wasn’t quite what she wanted, it was the FAMILY part of the theatre that she wanted, and she wanted Justin to adore her, and that’s what drove her to want to be a star. View Spoiler » Why is this so hard to understand????

The book definitely does not advise that you give up on you dream. It actually advises the complete opposite: The point the book makes is not to give up on stuff just because you’re failing. Pick yourself up, and try again.

“There are worse things than peaking in high school… Like giving up what you loved because you were afraid of failing.”

For me, that’s a powerful message. I went to school with so many people who now just stand still in their life, frozen in place, terrified of failing so they don’t even try. Despite the title and blurb, Kind of a Big Deal says that high school is so insignificant. No one cares who you were in high school. No one cares that you were a big fish in a little pond, because the real world is an ocean, not a pond, and you’re still a fish.

I suspect there is a comic panel section that I only heard dialogue and sound effects for, so I’d like to one day find a physical copy so I can see the artwork on those pages. Likewise, I think the audiobook narrator did a really great job with this book, and I really enjoyed listening to it.

I honestly do not understand the negative reviews of this book. It was funny, had excellent character development, and the plot was pretty linear from A to B as well as being an interesting twist on storytelling. I really enjoyed it.

Nemo
Nemo

About Nemo

A lover of kittens and all things sparkly, Nemo has a degree in English Literature and specialises in reviewing contemporary, paranormal, mystery/thriller, historical, sci-fi and fantasy Young Adult fiction. She is especially drawn to novels about princesses, strong female friendships, magical powers, and assassins.

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