Saturday, 7 July 2012

Adorkable - Sarra Manning

Sarra Manning is an author I have grown up knowing she is a firm holder of being a British YA writer. I have read one of her other stand-alone novels previously, Pretty Things (review) from the earlier days of blogging (hence the...interesting review).
I enjoyed that book but I wasn't totally hooked to her writing despite hearing great things and seeing many of her books in libraries and shops.

Despite this, I was interested by Adorkable from seeing the front cover. Although I don't really like it particularly and would maybe bypass it if I saw it on a shelf, it looked like something contemporary that I would enjoy. The reviews on the blogosphere are what hooked me totally. I wanted to read this book and even considered buying it at work, until I found it alone in the corner of the library where I quickly picked it up.

Synopsis: Jeane Smith is 17 and has used her dorkiness to turn herself into a self-made teenager with a lifestyle brand, blog, half a million followers on Twitter and consultancy business. She writes for style columns and the Guardian about the new type of teenager and unique trends. All this while studying for her AS levels. yet despite having all this cool stuff happening, lots of Internet friends and a cool boyfriend, Jeane feels alone and that no-one quite understands her. So, when she continuously talks to Michael Lee, a popular, well-rounded guy who lives in Abercrombie & Fitch, it is surprising especially as the only thing they have in common is Jeane's boyfriend secretly seeing Michael's girlfriend. So, why can't they stop seeing each other?

Review: If you wanted a a very British novel, I think you've found it. If you wanted a modern novel, you've also found it in this book.
After finishing this book a couple of nights ago, it struck me how much of this book I can relate to and how cram packed it is of popular culture references and of English references in general, some of which I think only those that have visited London would understand. This is truly what I call a British novel for the 21st Century. 

In all honesty, I have no idea how I felt about this book at all. I have no strong emotions or opinions for it. I have been putting off this review because of that very reason so I hope the next few paragraphs are something readable and comprehensible.

Characters: A lot of reviews I read prior and after reading this novel said they didn't like the obnoxious and 'I am so amazing' attitude of the main character, Jeane. It's true, she is a bit...'out there', shall we say, but it's what makes her so likeable. Jeane is not your normal teenage heroine. She does not wallow around her house all day waiting for the guy she likes to come along, the same goes when she finds out her boyfriend is two-timing her. No, Jeane is a feminist and an independent woman at that. And wow, some of the things she has done with her blog, Adorkable, most bloggers could only dream of doing. A clothing line, millions of readers and followers all wanting to hear your every word and then writing for big newspapers and making money out of it. So, it may be a little idealistic for any 'real blogger' because I don't think there is any blogger to date who is like this. But Sarra Manning has created Jeane as a 'what if?'. Yes, Jeane could be percieved as irritating and demanding, even by Michael. But I liked that feminist stance about her - she's a YA protagonist of her own.

Michael. Ah, Michael. Well I can see why he could be quite a catch and also why he is someone who Jean would detest. Overall, I did like Michael. There are moments where he really lightens the tone of the book and others when he is a total idiot and he seemed way too sensitive at times. However, it was nice to have an alternative portrayal of both the events and of Jeane. He has a great sense of humour and it was him that made me laugh or smile at various points throughout the novel. I think if the POV had been completely Jeane, this book wouldn't have been enjoyed by so many - she is a bit much at times even just reading about her. In short, Michael added a more realistic view for the reader because he is just a normal or 'stereotypical' teenage guy. Without his POV, I don't think I would have been on the fence as much.

Writing: It seems finally an adult author understands the cliques of teenagers. Once I was telling a family friend of the 'popular' people more dominant at secondary school but still in the background at college now. Their reaction was a reference to the teenage films such as Clueless or Mean Girls which depict an American high school which is run by these cliques or groups that everyone belongs to, headed by the 'popular' guys and gals. However fictitious that may seem, perhaps more unlikely in an English school, it's far from fiction. Anyway, I've seen some reviews slating the use of these two groups that Michael and Jeane belong to - the popular people and the, um, non-popular people.
It is true that probably Michael's 'clique's' reaction was a little exaggerated (Heidi made me want to punch her with hers) but I can understand it when they joke of the perhaps existence of Michael and Jeane's relationship. In short, it is clear Manning understand teenagers and their independence. She understands two groups - those that always shop at Hollister and those that want to be different and go to vintage shops or other high-street chain stores. She gets teenage problems and how they would react. This book shows a pretty spot-on portrayal of teenagers, and that is from one themselves. I don't think it is totally realistic but I think Michael and Jeane represent an exaggerated version of the two different types of teenagers.

Overall, this book is a totally British book. It is also a totally YA book. Plus a book for bloggers. I think only some bloggers can lust over Jeane's internet life. And teenagers perhaps over Michael's - who knows?
The use of 'English words', blogging lingo, teenage slang really make this book what it is and those are the reasons I think people would enjoy it. The cover is bad - sorry, but I would not approach this book if I hadn't seen the reviews and read Manning before. The cover looks like a bad teenage fiction novel - but this is far from that.
Teenagers are misunderstood a lot. But this book shows teenagers aren't those bad kids the media drones on and on about. Manning understands teenagers, like many other YA authors.
Blogger? English? Teenager? Any of those - then, give this a read.


I'm still on the fence about this - I sound like I love this book but it's easier to be positive than negative. So my rating is in the middle. 


I give it a 3.5 out of 5

Author's Website: http://www.sarramanning.co.uk/
Pages: 387
Publisher: Atom
Challenges: BBC

Other Books by Sarra Manning:
Pretty Things

1 comment:

  1. I seriously can't wait to read this book! I'm so happy that you loved it and I love the twat count lol. Awesome review! :)

    Marlene Detierro (Best Software Downloads)

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