Genre: Young-Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Series: How To #1 (Can be read as Standalone)
Release Date: September 24, 2013
And here we have an example of how you can take a great idea for a light-hearted, simple and cute book which also addresses an important topic, and fail epically in the execution.
The premise was simple yet wonderful. Zoe is a beautiful and popular girl, but in her heart she’s a nerd. She’s can’t show that side of herself because she’s afraid to be mocked and bullied. But she’s has the biggest crush on Zak, who used to be her best friend until she ditched him for popularity. Zak doesn’t hide his nerd side, and if Zoe wants to be with him, she has to learn to accept her true self and show it to the world.
Adorable, isn’t it? I was almost squealing with excitement when I read it (well, the GR version of it) and I just had to read the book immediately because I’m a sucker for books of this sort. Books that tell a great and meaningful story in a light way, avoiding the dramatics. Perfect example: Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda
Alas, I did not at all get what I’d hoped for. And there were multiple reasons. For one, this is not nearly as light a topic and the tone is all completely WRONG. It’s all jokes and euphemisms! There’s not enough seriousness even though the events are in severe need of it. You can’t show attempted rape and then just go ‘Darn, that was awful’ and skip three days ahead! Seriously, the amount of ‘darns’ and ‘dangs’ and ‘oh gosh’s were unbearable. It’s like the book was narrated by Texas fucking Barbie!
The combination of the tone, the narrative and the writing wreaked havoc on the plot. To explain the writing, I’m just going to provide an example from the book. Here’s one of the worst kissing scenes ever:
Oh yes, yes, yes. He’s the best kisser in the whole freaking world! Even with the frenching, it’s not sloppy or gross, it’s just so flippin’ fantastic!
I don’t think I’ve read a more un-sexy kiss in my entire flippin’ life.
Then there was the fact that the author genuinely did not seem to have any idea how to write a nerd. For one, her nerds were fans of Marvel comics (mainly X-men), Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, World of Warcraft and Star Wars. Which basically means that the author might as well have Googled “nerd things” and worked with that. And liking Spidy doesn’t mean you swear with the phrase “freaking spiderman!” and there’s no such thing as a Spiderman documentary, especially one hosted by Stan Lee! Please just… stop trying to nerd; you’re embarrassing yourself.
Furthermore, all the popular kids were depicted horribly. They were all shallow and sex obsessed. There were “those kind of girls” and the “popolar kids”, and to be popular, you were required to be a bitch and a slut. I mean, the word ‘damn’ was replaced by ‘darn’ but slut and whore were thrown around like they were nothing. I hated how highschool was depicted. And the bullying was a joke. It was like ‘don’t read a comic book in front of anyone or they’ll ruin you life’. I’m sorry but that’s really not how it is.
And at this point, I just wanna be done with this review. But I have to mention why I haven’t given one star.
There were cute moments between Zoe and Zak that made me smile. And there was an effort made to show how important it is to accept yourself for who you are and not hide. And how badly bullying can affect a person, even if that topic wasn’t addressed, just seen. There was another things seen, with Zoe’s younger sister, that was also ignored. And Zoe was crying for like half the book…
There was so much potential here that was ruined by abysmal execution. Do Not Recommend.