(Some spoilers ahead)
Summary: This is a dark story that follows the perspectives of three high-school students. There is Alex Craft who took revenge on her sisters killer and can’t seem to bury the violence that hides inside of her. There’s Jack, the jock who takes a liking to Alex, and begins to develop feelings he has never experienced before. Then there is Peekay, the ‘preacher’s daughter’ who is struggling through a break-up and who becomes Alex’s closest friend. This story is dark and raw and it does not shy away from the ugly, painful bits. It contains themes of rape, murder, violence, bullying, sexism, and animal abuse.
Writing: The writing is sharp and witty and quick. It is an extremely easy book to read on a writing level and I enjoyed the style. Despite the difficult topics, Mindy McGinnis manages to weave humour alongside the horrible things that this book centers around. It is moving and doesn’t waste words on lyricism or beauty. Each word is pointed and carefully chosen in a way that ensures that every single sentence hits you just where the author intended.
Plot: There is no denying that this plot is dark and it went somewhere even I didn’t expect it to go. Honestly, when I read the blurb and saw the unassuming, pretty yellow cover, I was expecting a humorous look into the high school environment. I expected good commentary on social issues and a powerful story, but I also expected a happy ending (Spoiler: you may cry). The story is seamless and powerful. I was hooked from the start and read this relatively quickly; it’s the type of book that, if you have the time, you could probably knock over in one or two sittings. There’s not much else I want to say without spoiling it but again warning the themes are very dark.
Characters: These characters felt real. Alex Craft is so complex and I found myself questioning whether or not we were meant to side with her or not. Despite the darkness and despite all that happens, you can’t help but be on her side, and you can’t help but try to justify her actions. It’s not okay to take justice into your own hands (especially to this extent), but it is very very difficult not to love her and see her side. Jack was nice and realistic and I enjoyed that he was flawed and sort of a bit of a dickhead, even in the end. I didn’t love him but I found him to be portrayed really realistically and in a way that made you like him, at least a bit. I really liked Peekay and her friendship with Alex was one of my favourite parts of the book. I liked their interactions and how their friendship grew throughout the story. Of course that just made the end even more heart-breaking.
If you’re looking for a light read I wouldn’t suggest this book. However, if you’re looking for a hard-hitting contemporary that explores important themes and pulls no punches, then look no further. Highly recommend this book.