Tuesday, May 1, 2012
ARC Review: Jersey Angel
Still, her summer doesn’t start out as planned. Her good friend Joey doesn’t want to fool around anymore, he wants to be her boyfriend, while Angel doesn’t want to be tied down. As Joey pulls away, and Inggy tours colleges, Angel finds herself spending more time with Inggy’s boyfriend, Cork. With its cast of vivid and memorable characters, this tale from the Jersey shore is sure to make some waves.
My Review: In a market filled with good girls discovering extraordinary powers, or surviving supernatural ordeals, Angel Cassonetti is ordinary. She's not a good girl. She's not a super-intelligent girl. She's just a girl. A girl who makes mistakes and does stupid shit. A girl trying to find herself. There's no right or wrong. No good guys versus bad guys. Each of these characters is morally ambiguous and very human. And because of that this book is going to get skewered.
It's a novel that's crass, and honest, and unapologetically so. There is foul language. And sex. Lots of it. Not to mention a female teenaged protagonist who enjoys sex and seeks it out. And then there's the lying and the cheating and the whole best friend betrayal thing. I mean, come on, the girl sleeps with her best friend's boyfriend on multiple occasions, and not because they couldn't help it and fell in love, but because they were both horny and needed a hookup. It doesn't stand a chance.
I however, tried to just take it for what it was and do my best to read Angel's story without getting all judge-y on her. And say what you will about Angel Cassonetti (and if you read this book you will have plenty to say, trust me), but she's nothing if not compelling. While I didn't agree with most of her behavior, it didn't make me want to turn away from her story. I wanted to see what conclusions she would come to about her life. I wanted to see her straighten up and see that there's more to her than being sexy.
That being said, my problem with this book stems from the fact that there seems to be no plot, no character growth or redemption. But maybe that's the point. Maybe since Angel never saw her actions as really wrong, there's no place for redemption. Or a satisfying conclusion to her story. Or maybe something profound happened here and it just went over my head.
At the end of the day, if you take away the shock value, you're left with little more than a below average contemporary. It's only saving grace is its interesting (if not sympathetic) characters and spot-on dialogue. It's not going to make my list of favorites for the year. And it is most certainly not for those opposed to sex or language in YA.