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.
Who hasn’t read or is reading Solitaire? On Tumblr and Instagram, the beautiful cover of the book is everywhere. Kind of like Solitaire in the book.
So it only seemed to make sense that this was the first book I bought in London (though it was very hard to pick, so many gorgeous books you can find in London!) and for once, I was not disappointed.
Besides the gorgeous cover, Solitaire by Alice Oseman also really delivers on plot. Though the first five pages give the impression that this is a typical young adult book, this illusion is soon scattered by the introduction of Solitaire, an anonymous blog that is urging students to take actions against injustice around them. This original plot element takes everything that could have been cliché about the book and makes it amazing. It’s like Solitaire is single handily preventing Tori from becoming a typical pessimistic and cranky protagonist. So is the real main character of this book Tori or Solitaire? That’s hard to tell.
Especially since they are so intertwined. Everything Tori does prompts an action from Solitaire and everything Solitaire does prompts the whole school, and even though she doesn’t want to, also Tori. The further you get in the book, the more cleverly Tori and Solitaire get connected.
And this is all thanks to the writing skill of Alice Oseman. She gives some great clues about what and who Solitaire is, but doesn’t give it away until the end of the book. However, attentive readers will pick up little descriptions and reactions from characters that will help them solve the mystery before Tori does. Besides that, Alice uses the first voice to guide the reader to the narrative and she embodies Tori perfectly. She’s a very consistent character who never does anything that seems unlike her. Tori grows and develops, but slowly enough and with enough back-and-forth to make it realistic.
Tori and Michael (and the best side character, Charlie)
And can I just say, thank God Tori develops. She was probably one of the most annoying main characters in the beginning of the book. She came across as depressive for no reason and this ticked me off pretty badly. However, as the story develops, so does she and the reader gets enough insight to relate to Tori - even if you’re not a chronic pessimist like she is. However, I never really felt like I was Tori or would do what Tori did: she’s just too different for me. So real identification to any character was missing for me.
Even though the concept of Solitaire might not be that realistic, all the other characters in the book are realistic. Every single teenage stereotype is represented and unlike most books, some stereotypes turn out to actually be true. Some people are really like you assumed they were, while others are completely different than you thought.
If there is a love story in the book, it didn’t seem to take priority in my eyes. The main boy is Michael Holden, who is “slightly off”. He is not very weird, but he does things just a bit differently than anyone else. I didn’t crush on him, but I adored the boy in a “this is my younger brother and he is so cute” kind of way. Michael is vulnerable, optimistic and constantly happy - aka the complete opposite of Tori. This makes their relationship very interesting, and not in your typical way. There is no “cutesy bickering”, they full out brawl sometimes, and there is also no “growing similar and closer”. Michael is Michael and Tori is Tori and with that they have to make it work.
Something else I need to mention is Tori’s brother Charlie. I don’t want to give too much away about this character, since he is one of the most surprising and thus interesting ones in the book, but he has some serious issues. And Alice Oseman writes about him in the most perfect way. His issues are talked about, but not in way to provoke the reader nor in a way to make the reader cry for Charlie. It’s so realistic that it’s wonderful - something more YA novels need.
The rating for this book is 4 out of 5 stars. Almost everything about this book was perfect, except for the fact that I couldn’t identify with Tori. I love to identify with a main character and feel like I’m her/him in the book and like I’m living the life they are living. Because Tori is so different from me, there was always this bit of space that prevented me from really getting into the story. But the writing, the other characters and the plot were amazing.