People who live in the UK might have heard about the YA Book Prize: it's an award for the best UK young adult book and the winner will be announced in March. However, there is already a shortlist with 10 of the best UK YA books of 2014. Up until March, I will read each of these books (one a week) and post a review - I'm reading the books in the same order as the YA Book Prize twitter account is.
I reached a point in the YA Book Prize shortlist where I honestly didn't know which book was going to win. So many of the books I've read have been amazing in so many different ways.
This week, I discovered one book that I think should absolutely not win the YA Book Prize. I always try to be a fair, critical yet nice reviewer, but Goose by Dawn O'Porter makes that kinda hard to do. Spoiler alert: I didn't like anything about this book.
It's a year and a half on from Paper Aeroplanes, and Renée is now living with her Aunty Jo. They even have geese, and Renée likes to sit and watch them, wondering if she'll ever find 'the One' - someone who will love her no matter what, and be there for her no matter how bad things get. She and Flo are in their final year at school, and they've got some tough choices to make - like will they go to university? And if so where - and will they go together? Renée's usual ambivalence on the matter shocks Flo, who had assumed they'd continue as they were, the best and closest of friends, forever. She feels as though she needs Renée's support more than ever, so when a handsome young boy enters Flo's life, she finds herself powerfully drawn to his kindness, and his faith. Renée and Flo's friendship will soon be tested in a way neither of them could have expected - and if Paper Aeroplanes was a book about finding friendship, Goose is the novel that explores whether it's possible to keep hold of it.
Flo and Renée
Now I have to start off by saying that I've never read Paper Aeroplanes so if I'm misinterpreting things because I missed book one in the series, then please do let me know.
On to the book though - as you can tell from the summary it is a dual perspective between Flo and Renée. Both are 17, ready to graduate and so called smart girls, yet both have the voices of 14 year olds.
Their narrative reads incredibly immature. It's the way an adult talks about a teenager when they're talking about how dumb they are. They have no depth, they have no intelligence and they constantly make dumb decisions. They're 17. They're human. They're not dumb. They deserve a way better voice.
Flo gets dragged into this bible group, even though she'd never been religious before, and suddenly goes from a zero to a hundred with her believes. Now I don't think that that can't happen, however I think it's safe to assume Flo would be a bit more critical - think things through. She's not 12 anymore.
Renée goes on an opposite journey - one that involves a guy who is THE BIGGEST PRICK ever. Does she care? Sort of. Does she still sleep with him? Yes, because obviously 17 year olds have no back bone? (I'm trying to think what the author was thinking when writing this story) It makes Renée extremely annoying, because as a reader you just can't understand why she sleeps with the guy. It's okay if you want her to make bad decision, but explain it to us.
Show, show, show
And about that explaining.... While Renée's decision is never explained, everything else in the book is. Constantly. The whole time. Tell. Tell. Tell. There's barely any action and we just get told SO much unnecessary background information. Okay, both girls have lost a parent - we know that, we get told that 20 times. But show it to the reader! Show us how that influences their personality; show us why that's the reason they make the decisions that they do. Don't just tell us how hard it was for them, show us.
I literally skipped page after page with background information that was either not relevant, a repetition of stuff I already knew, or so badly told (the clichés in this book, my god) that I couldn't read it. Pages.
The writing in this book just wasn't my cup of tea. The telling was the biggest thing I hated, but I also though the dialogue was unnatural and then you have unrealistic girls? I really can't say much positive about the writing skills about Dawn O'Porter.
Unsurprisingly, this book is one out of five for me. I don't want to give zeros, because I understand how hard it is to write a book and I respect everyone who has done the work, but I can't think of a single thing I liked about this book. I don't understand how it got nominated for the YA Book Prize. I just.. I don't know. I think this is the harshest review I've ever given a book, but I have to stay true to myself and just can't give it anymore.