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review 2018-09-11 11:34
Leah Burke - Creekwood's Cynical Teenager
Leah on the Offbeat - Becky Albertalli

Reading Simon Vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda makes me smile for a good reason. Its warm, funny and yet meaningful in many ways how I care about the characters. But what makes Simon special was how its written. Then came the spin-off, Leah on the Offbeat, where the central character is Leah Burke - totally opposite of Simon Spier; cynical teenager about how life is for her and how she view things in life that is negative in many ways. While Simon is light and filled with colorful characters, well on his point of view, Leah on the other hand is on what reality is - no fluffy bears but just judgmental on every thing. Its not bad, its just not that better and more of the same but less beautiful.

 

Following the events after Simon Vs. The Homo Sapiens AgendaLeah Burke is in the band with AnnaMorgan and Nora, only its falling apart after college is on the horizon and with prom coming, suddenly things just seem to fall apart. Nick and Abby strangely aren't together as always, Morganhad offended Leah with a racist remark and Garrett seems to be in love with Leah, which is isn't. What matters worst is Leah's mum is in love with someone who isn't exactly someone Leah would like to have as future stepdad. And then there is Abby Suso, a girl Leah isn't sure she likes her or not but when things start to question about relationships, Leah doesn't know if he can accept Abby as someone as a close friend... or some thing more.

 

The beginning is some what unimpressive and it was later on, it slowly picks up. I can't seem to find what was the purpose of this book as it felt like it starts off in the middle of every thing. And then, its pretty much how young adult books are written, only with cynical wit and lots of waffles, cuss words and I-am-not-sure-what-I-want-in-life moments. There are times it is funny, and I really do start to like Leah and the rest of the characters on the later part of the book. But from how it really starts off and towards the end, overall its not that bad. Its just not better. Pretty much normal but in a realistic way. To me, this is a 3.5 out of 5 star rating. If you love the first Creekwood book, you will still enjoy the second, just no better.

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review 2018-08-17 13:37
Don't Know if I Dislike This More Than the Cursed Child...
Leah on the Offbeat - Becky Albertalli

Sigh. I don't know why there always has to be a follow-up to a popular book before an author can work out the kinks and or think to themselves is the book in question necessary. "Leah on the Offbeat" was not good. This book ruined characters from the first book in the series "Simon Vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda." Leah is also a jerk, I didn't like her and I wasn't rooting for her at all. There is still an issue with the author not really getting African American communities at all and how they are towards those who identify as gay. It's not realistic to just keep showing things as perfect. It just feels like there are blinders up in order to force fit a HEA that doesn't work for the book.

 

Leah who was introduced in the first book is dealing with the fact it's senior year and all of her friends seem to be moving on. Even her mother seems to have found someone to be with and is moving on from her father leaving them both years earlier. We quickly find out though that Leah has a crush on someone (that comes out of left field) and makes zero sense in context to the first book. So the entire book is just Leah thinking about this person, obsessing about this person, and getting mad this person isn't doing what Leah wants them to do. 


I hard cringed though this whole book. There is no there there with Leah. The Leah in the first book was a drummer, into magna it seemed, and was fierce about her friendships with Nick and Simon. This Leah doesn't play the drums once in the whole story. Is totally absent from Nick's life it seems, and only seems to talk to Simon here and there. She's also fighting with her mom and her friends from the band. Everyone seemed to have a total personality transplant and it was maddening. 

 

Nick doesn't feel real anymore, not even Abby or Morgan, Nora, etc do. Instead these are just people moving in and out of Leah's story. I don't know if Albertalli meant to do that, but it really felt like Leah had no one really in her life. 


The romance felt forced in this one instead of like a happy surprise that it was when we were following Simon and Blue. It didn't feel real or earned and I hated that Leah had the nerve to argue that someone should be forced to come out before they were ready when she hadn't even told her mother or friends about her liking this person or even hinting that she could like girls. It was like Albertalli forgot what a garbage person Martin Addison was for blackmailing and then outing Simon in the first book. 

 

I also feel frustrated because I really wanted a book that accurately portrayed the lengths the African American community needs to still go with regards to accepting and acknowledging LGBT people. 

The book taking place in Georgia once again didn't seem to be that realistic. It's 2018 and the book references Hamilton and other things that show it's taking place in our here and now, but not very well. There is a whole sub-plot about Leah calling out someone from her friend group for being racist and I kid you not it didn't seem believable to me at all. It felt shoehorned in there so Leah could be a better person, but even I got sick of her self righteousness after a while. This person eventually apologizes to Leah saying she needed to be a better ally and I rolled my eyes. 

 

The writing felt more empty this time. There are not emails going back and forth between love interests. Just Leah moving through her day and getting texts here and there. There is eventually a road trip that also didn't help matters. I felt like I was in a totally different book.

 

The ending was a joke. We have a time jump so we don't get to see the immediate fall-out to Leah and her new love interest. Instead we get an email (finally) between Leah and Simon and Leah is just giving a quick recap on people who once again don't feel real. I can say that the friendship between Simon, Leah, and Nick seems to be over and that made me sad. 

 

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review 2018-05-24 03:31
Leah on the Offbeat (Creekwood #2)
Leah on the Offbeat - Becky Albertalli

Wow, I don't even know where to start with how awful this book is.

 

Terrible bi rep? Check.

Terrible girl rep? Check

Terrible fat girl rep? Check.

 

I loved Simon Vs The Homo-Sapiens Agenda and fell in love with all the characters (well, not Martin) and I felt especially drawn to Leah. So when I found out there was going to be another book, centered on Leah, I got excited. Then the blurb mentioned that she's suddenly bisexual, and I got concerned because there was zero indication or hint of that in the first book. But it couldn't be that bad, right?

 

Other reviewers have said it better: this story felt like fanfic. And not even good fanfic. It felt like the really bad fanfic that you don't admit to reading. The AU kind where everyone's gay and acts so out of character as to be unrecognizable in order to force together the writer's OTP that makes zero sense in canon but dammit they're going to make it work no matter what. 

 

On top of that, there's no plot. It's just a string of scenes that are connected only be the fact they happen chronologically (aside from a couple of flashbacks). Leah exists just to be awful and condescending and rude to everyone, yet for some reason everyone still loves her.

 

There's also no heart. We never learn why Leah acts the way she does because there's zero reflection on her actions or feelings, and so she never learns or develops. She's the exact same awful person at the end of the book as she is at the start of it, and she's taken everyone else down with her. This is just Leah referring to herself as a bitch for 300 pages because isn't it hilarious when girls call themselves slur words? There's no reason to care about Leah, so there's no reason to care about anything that's going on around her.

 

There's a really awkward attempt at addressing racism that feels more like it was written as an overhanded after-school special message than an actual examination of racism and all of its nuances. It's there solely to give Leah one shining moment of being not completely sucky. 

 

In a word, this book is superficial.

 

The first half dragged because nothing happened aside from Leah being rude, not knowing how to express herself, and constantly having brain freeze, stopped heart and flipping stomach, because that's what hormones do to seventeen-year old girls. And apparently being bisexual means you develop crushes on everyone. I couldn't take the plodding pace of non-action, so I did skim most of the second half starting around 60%. Thankfully, not much happened in that section beyond prom, Leah and her girlfriend being selfish and awful to everyone at prom, and the writer leaving a bunch of dangling threads.

 

This was a huge disappointment and read like the Ms. Albertalli just phoned it in.

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