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review 2018-01-31 21:28
This shouldn't work but it does
Violent Ends - Brendan Shusterman,Courtney Summers,Neal Shusterman,Beth Revis,Elisa Nader,Shaun Hutchinson,Delilah S. Dawson,Tom Leveen,Trish Doller,Kendare Blake,E. M. Kokie,Blythe Woolston,Mindi Scott,Margie Gelbwasser,Hannah Moskowitz,Steve Brezenoff,Christine Johnso

So I generally reserve 5 star reviews for a both that was both excellent *and* I'm likely to want to reread. In this case, it's not necessarily that I'm likely to pull this down off the shelf over and over again, but that it was a truly remarkable book.


Told in 17 points of view, this is the story of - or maybe it's more accurate to say "around" - a high school shooting. Each segment was written by a different YA author and is from a different character or object POV. Remarkably, it still feels like a consistent, singular work. I would have thought the tonal shifts would be too jarring, or the way it doesn't come back around in a classic narrative structure would be more like reading a series of news accounts or a short story anthology. But - and this feels like a super weird comment to make - it reads really well. It's fast, engaging, even entertaining or enjoyable, at some level. The characters are well fleshed out, though it's hard to keep track of them and their relationships to one another, especially at first. There's insight, but not explanations.


The book as a whole doesn't answer much. The shooter was a boy with some problems. He might have been a good friend. He might have been destructive from a young age. He might have been bullied. He might have been suicidal. He might have had psychological issues. It might have been the system, or isolation; other kids, or school or genetics. There's complexity and confusion and bad choices and too much unexplored desire and it pretty much captures adolescence and the terrors and triumphs of high school. It's a mess and it's brilliant and remarkable.

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review 2017-01-17 11:33
Review: Some Girls Are
Some Girls Are - Courtney Summers

This was one tough book to get through, but at the same time it’s really hard to put down once you get into it. It tells the story of fall from grace of mean girl Regina Afton. Trigger warnings for attempted rape (twice in the book) physical and emotional violence. This is bullying to the extreme. The problem with this book is Regina is a big bitch and flat out unlikeable. Part of a clique of rich pretty mean girls she’s engaged in bullying behaviour herself to the point of completely destroying other girls to the point of the victims attempting suicide. So when she finds herself with her best friend’s asshole boyfriend who doesn’t get no means no and makes the mistake of confiding in someone she shouldn’t have – it’s all over the school that she slept with the most popular girl's boyfriend, and Regina finds herself the subject of the same abuse she’s inflicted on other girls.


It’s deep and emotional and horrible and the bullying goes from bad to worse and turns physical.  At the same time there’s a sort of morbid sense of glee seeing Regina getting her comeuppance (especially as a reader who has suffered at the hands mean girl bullying) even though it’s still horrible. She’s got no one to really turn to and finds herself trying to sit with one boy Michael who everyone has dismissed as weird and unlikeable – because of rumours Regina and her former friends spread about him. Despite everything this poor guy has suffered at their hands he still (sort of) gives her a second chance. Doesn’t make them friends or anything, but he’s definitely the bigger person. 

Even though she’s getting herself dragged through the mud Regina acts like she’s so above it all and better than everyone else (which makes her even more hateable) she’s done it to other girls, it’s sort of like so what? Doesn’t mean she deserves it (well, no she really didn’t deserve what the boy at the party tried to do, no one deserves that no matter how horrible they are as person).


 It’s complex because as I said she does deserve some sort of consequences for her actions in abusing others.  Her attitude doesn’t help endear her to anyone, and thankfully, it appears she’s not at all trying to be liked. She’s just getting through it as best she can. She wants to lash out and hurt the girl who’s responsible for spreading the rumour that knocked her off the top. (They have a less than pleasant history) and of course no one believes her about the attempted rape.


It is a tough, gut wrenching read and extremely uncomfortable in places. It did have a how on earth is this going to end tug pulling at me through the later parts of the book.  The violence gets worse, it doesn’t let up at all. The novel makes no apologies for characters’ behaviour either, it’s something that happens and it doesn’t always end well or tie up with a nice satisfying bow. It’s very open ended and that, on reflection, actually worked quite well.


It’s a very good book, just a difficult one with some tough topics to deal with.

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review 2016-09-11 13:12
Cracked Up to Be - Courtney Summers
Cracked Up to Be - Courtney Summers

Summers leaves you gut-shot. All the emotions, pretty much continuously. And it isn't because of overwrought melodrama.



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review 2016-09-04 11:46
All the Rage - Courtney Summers

All The Rage has been on my radar for months. I've seen a few friends read it and I've had people recommend it to me. I knew I was going to read it. I just wasn't sure when.


I read it a little over a week ago and I can't stop thinking about this. I keep going back to this book, back to Romy and her story and the story of the other characters in this book. Including the characters I felt nothing but anger for.


This book was impossible for me to put down. Every time I told myself to take a break, that I was getting angry, I would keep reading. When it was almost finished and I didn't want it to be over soon, I urged myself to take a breather. But I didn't.


Once I was finished this book, I let out a big sigh and went over it all in my head.


The rage I felt while reading this lasted for hours after.


All The Rage is not an easy book. This is not the book to read if you want a sweet YA romance. Because this is not that story.


This is a story about rape. About rape culture. And about the aftermath for the victim of a rape, who is not believed for the most part and who has to live in a town where people judge her for telling the truth.


This book is brutal and real and honest. 


All The Rage is not a graphic book. But it doesn't need to be. Romy's thoughts and feelings alone are enough to leave an impact and enough to make me want to recommend this again and again.

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review 2016-04-02 06:06
Review: Some Girls Are by Courtney Summers
Some Girls Are - Courtney Summers

Initial reaction: Quick read, but man, this book hurt. I think it reaffirms that I will devour everything that Courtney Summers writes. I liked this quite a bit, though only with a few caveats.

Full review:

I'm in awe of how well Courtney Summers can write flawed heroines. Regina, the protagonist in this book, is no different - complicated and complex. I knew going into this novel that it would be an emotional read; I just didn't know how much. The book starts with Regina being a part of a high school group of queen bees that rule the school. During a drunken night among the girls where she's the designated driver, Regina's raped by the boyfriend of her supposed best friend, Anna. She confides in one of the girls about what happened, only to be convinced to not do it. Then all heck breaks loose the next day.

Regina's experiences turn even more messed up considering how quickly the group turns against her - their bullying, their harassment, their manipulation - they go all out to ruin her emotionally, physically, and mentally. In the same vein, Regina finds herself confronting her own flawed actions and relationships in the mix of her harassment. It's not a pretty picture considering how Regina abused and manipulated people in the past - and she's reminded of that through her confrontations with Liz and Michael. It hurts to see just how far Regina went in the past with her abusive actions, but I liked how the narrative shows how much she wrestles with her behavior and comes to terms. Her relationship with Michael was also something I appreciated, particularly in the steady way it grew over time, though it was a tough road getting there.

From a prose perspective, I devoured this book, reading it to the very end without stopping. The narrative pulled me in for the long haul, but it hurt to read for the nature of the exchanges and emotional rollercoasters Regina goes through - her own self-blame, the aftermath of her rape, recognizing her own manipulations while being harassed by people whom she once knew, etc. Anna and the rest of the girls are relentless and really rack up the tension that builds steadily through the book up until the ending. Just when you think they can't get any worse (and admittedly Regina hits back in ways that aren't good at all), it shows that the group Regina was once a part of would do anything to assert themselves for power and control. I felt like the book wrapped up too quickly for the climax of all these confrontations (which is something that I've found and had issues with in more than one of Summers' narratives) though it was satisfying enough for me to at least have some room for a resolution/closure.

"Some Girls Are" is definitely a narrative that will stick in my mind, though I wish in some ways it'd went that extra step to provide closure for a few holes remaining in the aftermath.

Overall score: 4/5 stars.

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