Friday, 21 May 2010

Review - Kiss It / Erin Downing

Chastity Bryan has never been shy about going after what she wants. And when sexy, mysterious, so-not-from-this-town Sebastian walks into Chaz’s life, she knows in an instant that what she wants next is him. Chaz has no intention of playing for keeps—but she most definitely has intentions. Who needs true love when you’ve got true lust?

Sebastian has no idea what he’s in for—but maybe neither does Chaz... Erin Downing's Website

Review - Kiss It was a bit of a surprise - you start reading expecting the normal contemporary YA romance path and get something racier. Chastity is an intelligent senior who's unsure of her future direction but is definite in her need to establish a sex life for herself. She's stuck in her wintery hometown where nothing is ever surprising while a stream of issues keep raising their heads. All Chaz wants is a good lay and that proves to be more challenging than one would expect.

Subject matter-wise this novel will be a problematic read for those that object to teen sex and swearing but it does have a heart to accompany its pounding libido. It offers a different perspective to the many (sometimes didactic) wait until love or marriage position we often see. However this position is represented in the protagonist's best friend. They have completely different stances in their life choices but support one another irregardless. Like most teens its a lot of talk and only a little action but that is still more than what would be found in most YA. Despite some sexual content, at its centre this book is more conventional that one would judge on face value. Instead of pushing the idea of abstinence, it subtlety addresses choice, birth control and self-worth.

The central story of Chaz's need for some action works well to highlight her emotional growth as she peruses her boy options. It is quite entertaining (and a little disturbing) to see her rationalise her actions, her treatment of Hunter and her feelings for Sebastian. At times Downing presents her protagonist as playing the guy - picking and choosing what she wants from those that are interested by her. This storyline flows well in terms of introducing a host of characters (some of which could have been sketched in further) and keeping the protagonist on their toes. However, the two minor stories - both of which I won't spoil - are intriguing. One is telegraphed strongly from the beginning, the other comes out of nowhere and doesn't hit its momentum as hard as it might. That being said, Downing tackles far more in terms of issues than you initially realise.

There's humour, pathos and a lot of sex talk- the latter might scare those who don't wish to acknowledge that female teens have urges and aren't always at the sexual whim of teen males. I found it quite illuminating and empowering to follow Chaz' self discovery and drew a deep breath of Downing's blast of fresh air.

Kiss It is following the lead of Judy Blume's Forever presenting a story where a girl makes informed decisions about her sex life in a responsible manner. Forever was written 34 years ago and its content is still considered to be risque, Kiss It will be in the same boat but what a glorious boat to be in. Kiss It is not a brand new, extraordinary take on contemporary YA but it does provide a fresh perspective with a candid look at sex, friendship and blizzard boredom. I find that brave and it's definitely a perspective we should be supporting and encouraging.

Published: June 15 2010
Format: ARC
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Source: author
Origin: USA


Stina said...

This definitely jumping near the top of my TBR pile. Thanks for the great review.

Carla said...

This actually sounds rather interesting. I think it's so refreshing when you find a YA book that tackles the sex lives of teenagers, because most teenagers quite frankly are getting some. I think I may have to just purchase this one, and the cover is quite groovy too! Fab review

Steph Su said...

Oh, HMM. I've dismissed this for so long because I hate the cover, but, y'know, if Adele likes it, it's gotta go on the wishlist... You had me searching out Liz Tigelaar's books earlier this month. THANKS A LOT.

The Book Owl said...

Wonderful review! Books that deal with touchy subjects have always turned out to some of my favorites. I'm especially excited to read this now.

Mrs. DeRaps said...

I love the cover, and y'know what they say about the mating habits of rabbits...Sounds like a good read. I hadn't heard of it, so thanks for the review!

Jennifer Powers said...

Love your blog and love your reviews, but "irregardless" isn't a word. It's just "regardless". :)

Adele said...
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