Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Book Review: Shut Out by Kody Keplinger

Release Date: September 5, 2011
Published by: Poppy

Shut Out by Kody Keplinger

Most high school sports teams have rivalries with other schools. At Hamilton High, it's a civil war: the football team versus the soccer team. And for her part, Lissa is sick of it. Her quarterback boyfriend, Randy, is always ditching her to go pick a fight with the soccer team or to prank their locker room. And on three separate occasions Randy's car has been egged while he and Lissa were inside, making out. She is done competing with a bunch of sweaty boys for her own boyfriend's attention.

Lissa decides to end the rivalry once and for all: she and the other players' girlfriends go on a hookup strike. The boys won't get any action from them until the football and soccer teams make peace. What they don't count on is a new sort of rivalry: an impossible girls-against-boys showdown that hinges on who will cave to their libidos first. And Lissa never sees her own sexual tension with the leader of the boys, Cash Sterling, coming.

Inspired by Aristophanes' play Lysistrata, critically acclaimed author of The Duff (Designated Ugly Fat Friend) Kody Keplinger adds her own trademark humor in this fresh take on modern teenage romance, rivalry and sexuality.


Ten Likes/Dislikes:

1. (+) Lissa, the Protagonist - Smart, funny, caring, neurotic--overanalyzes so many things and circles typos in books and raps her knuckles when she's nervous.  Lissa is a strong female protagonist who is easy identify with, and in fact, I was on her side pretty much the whole time, even when she starts to get a tad unreasonable at the end because her emotions were always real.  She felt like somebody I'd actually know and like in real life.
2. (+) The Idea - Because really?  Doesn't this book summary capture your attention right away?  A sex strike?  A football/soccer rivalry within a school?  I mean, sure, people mostly give more weight football games, but for there to be a rivalry within the school... And the idea is done well.  The reason for the rivalry is set up nicely and I love how Keplinger connected it to Lissa.  I've never read Lysistrata, but this book makes me want to at least check it out.  (Also would like to add that though it's a 'sex strike,' not every girl is having sex in this story.  That was one of the things that had bothered me about the idea but Keplinger found a way around it.)
3. (+) Family - I know that a lot of people get upset about YA never really including parents or families.  Not so the case here.  Lissa is who she is because of what's happened to her family.  And it was really touching to see her level of concern and care.  I loved the relationships she had with both her father and brother.
4. (+) The Romance - Cash is adorable.  At first, I was kind of pissed with him too--I mean Lissa had the right idea.  You find out his reasons later... but Cash's behavior in the past really contrasts with his flirty behavior.... But he grows on you the way he grows on Lissa.  And I love how he blushes and is cheesy but knows what he wants and isn't a jerk like Randy (really good technique to contrast douche Randy against this sweet & romantic guy--makes you fall more for Cash).  In general, it was a nice and refreshing take on YA romance.
5. (+) Friendships/the Other Characters - Chloe and Lissa's friendship is a great addition to the story.  In general, I thought all the characters were actually people I went to high school with.  They felt real.  And the only one I disliked was Randy, but I think that's okay/intended.  I especially, though, loved the way the girls banded together with their sleepovers and how their friendships strengthen all from this "strike."
6. (+) The Writing - You know what they say... when the writing is so seamless, you don't even notice how many pages you've read, how much it's drawn you into the story.  Kody Keplinger is really talented.
7. (+/-) Pacing - Pacing was pretty decent once the story picked up, but it seemed like it took too long for Lissa to organize the strike.  I was waiting for that moment and the consequences of it to develop sooner than it had.
8. (+/-) A tad unrealistic - Okay, since this is a contemporary, I feel like everything should have an edge of realism, yeah?  Well, some things like the shirts scene--when the girls gasp because the boys take off their shirts--some of those felt unrealistic.  I mean, maybe they could've squeezed each others hands but gasping?  It seems so damn dramatic that I cannot actually picture that.  That's a nitpick perhaps, but there were other things too.  Like the fact that Lissa stopped speaking to her best friend Ellen due to the football/soccer rivalry.  I can understand maybe friendship fading when both girls get boyfriends and stop spending time with each other, but the rivalry?  I mean really?  If you're good friends, why wouldn't you just meet on the side if you were afraid of making the rivalry worse?  And based on the way Ellen and Lissa interact, I never got the feeling that they were anything but good friends.  There was more, but I don't want to keep telling you specific things about the story/spoil it; you should read it for yourself ;p.
9. (+) The Ending - Perfect ending.  Everything was tied up nicely and Lissa grew as a character.  I especially like the last line about learning--really appropriate for the work and, I think, the teenage years as a whole.
10. (--) The Cover - I'm going to nitpick on this... but one, I don't like the mascara--it seems at odds with the black paint, which I'm sure was the effect they were going for--the whole boy vs. girl deal--but it just looks weird to me.  And when I close my eyes and reopen them, focusing on the cover again, there are four things that grab my attention.  The title, her eyes, her lips, and then that birthmark at the bottom.  And really, it's not nice of me to nitpick on the birthmark, but considering the level of photo editing they did, you'd think they would've gotten rid of something distracting like that... I don't know.  To me, the cover felt kind of sloppy and not at all worthy of the greatness within the pages.

I liked The Duff and Shut Out.... so I'm coming to the conclusion that you could give me any Kody Keplinger book and I'd enjoy it :).  I hope the rest of you will as well!

Next review will either be Fateful by Claudia Gray or Circle Nine by Anne Heltzel.

2 comments:

  1. Great review! I am so excited to read this book I can't stand it. I agree with you about the idea -- it definitely grabbed my attention right away.

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  2. I just finished my first Kody Keplinger book, A Midsummer's Nightmare, and I really enjoyed it for the most part. I like the issues that were presented, the way that they were handled, and the outcomes. I enjoyed the characters. I liked that it was real. My only issue was the language. My gosh there was some seriously rough language that almost made me put it down at times. Do teenagers really talk like that these days? Anyway, I admit that my curiosity about this author has been peaked. And it sounds to me like Shut Out is a good one to try out next! Except for the absolutely ridiculous gasping. Yeah, that is just too silly.....

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