Friday, 1 January 2010

Review - Some Girls Are / Courtney Summers

Climbing to the top of the social ladder is hard--falling from it is even harder. Regina Afton used to be a member of the Fearsome Fivesome, an all-girl clique both feared and revered by the students at Hallowell High... until vicious rumors about her and her best friend's boyfriend start going around.

Now Regina's been "frozen out" and her ex-best friends are out for revenge. If Regina was guilty, it would be one thing, but the rumors are far from the terrifying truth and the bullying is getting more intense by the day. She takes solace in the company of Michael Hayden, a misfit with a tragic past who she herself used to bully. Friendship doesn't come easily for these onetime enemies, and as Regina works hard to make amends for her past, she realizes Michael could be more than just a friend... if threats from the Fearsome Foursome don't break them both first. Goodreads

Review - Reading this book is like getting thrown into an icy lake. You are initially struck dumb, the air gets whooshed from your lungs, you scream at the person who inflicted it on you then you wonder how it happened all so fast. Some Girls Are is so quickly paced that is passes by like a blur, with one exception ... it leaves an emotional mark.

It's powerful. There is cruelty and incredibly powerful interchanges, both in words and actions, that create a visceral reaction to the reader. This book is so tightly focused (kudos to editor Sara Goodman) that the book rollicks along with an occasional snap like any great rock and roll song. It's tight, it's moving and it's ultimately about a girl in a crappy position of her own making. Regina might blame others for the acts directed against her but she's always aware that she was largely to blame. There's an interchange between Regina and another character where Regina accepts that she had it coming but quibbles the severity. Regina's all about what's fair and if she deems it not to be, then call her Uma Thurman, arm her with a samurai sword and whack a yellow tracksuit on her. She's a little nuts but the brilliance in Summers' work is that we emphathise and cheer her on. Regina's working through her feelings on the inside but on the outside she's all rage and it's glorious.

Regina's first impulse is to hurt. She's not intellectual but she's relatively savvy to that goings on around her (though why she didn't change her locker combination earlier on, I will never know). She lashes out, usually with force. Seeing her reactions escalate as the actions against her and her own rage build are beautiful to watch. At her core, Regina's impulse control remains consistently non existant which very much ties into a person's rationality going out the window when anger comes to town. Regina's inability to let things go and her lack of clarity is clearly depicted when she follows Michael like a kicked puppy after having bitten his head off (p. 52). There's are undertones of humour to the nastiness and it's because of this (and the emotional resonance and connectivity) that so many readers are connecting to this title.

While much of Some Girls Are is obvious there are many nuanced aspects running throughout also. The parallels between the escalation of the girls activities versus Regina and Michael's relationship were strong. The girls are using sophisticated weaponry in their biting words, online bullying and physical violence whereas Michael and Regina battled one another with blunt, challenging dialogue and the truth. All the characters are relentless in pursuing their goals, altruistic or not. The only exception is the main player in the book's conclusion, arguably the best person (in every sense of the word) in Hallowell High sphere.

It's an impactful read. Much of this does have to do with Summers' well crafted, sometimes sparse passages that energise the story and propel the story along. There are no wasteful moments, every scene has purpose whether tackling the overt bullying or Regina's internal arc. It's a book that has immense visual possibilities, the action is strong and tightly woven into the motivations and growth of the protagonist.

Some Girls Are is melodramatic, bitchy, emotionally taxing and tense. You could see this book transplanted easily into a western or war film with it's tense standoffs, sparky dialogue and roughened characters. It's authentic, it's gritty and it's fuelled with plenty of well rounded, clearly motivated characters. A devilish joy!

Published: 5 January, 2010
Format: ARC, 244 pages
Publisher: St Martin's Griffin
Source of Review Copy: publisher
Origin: USA

My initial reaction vlog to SGA.

Some Girls Are from Persnickety on Vimeo.


Briana said...

So your review made me want to read this book even more :) It sounds incredible and reminds me a little of Speak.


Krista/Tower of Books said...

Great review! This sounds like a fantastic book.

Daisy Whitney said...

You're right on the mark with the icy lake comparison -- I was clutching the book as I read it. I swear my knuckles were white with worry and fear over what would happen next. This book is intense and plunges the reader without apology into all the roiling emotions and anger and hope -- there is some of that! -- in its characters!

Anonymous said...

Wow Adele, your review is making me want to run out and buy SGA the moment it's released. xD SGA has been getting dozens of raving reviews. Cannot wait!

~The Book Pixie said...

Dang! lol. Now I feel like I can't wait, I WANT NOW! lol. Such a well written review to, I wish mine sounded that good.

~Briana :D