Saturday, June 4, 2011

Review: Rage: A Love Story by Julieann Peters

2.5 Stars
Rage: A Love Story is a good enough book about two girls--one a goody-goody with dead parents, one a bad seed with parents she wishes were dead--who fall in love. Okay, maybe it's a lot less like love and a lot more like denial and abuse, but get the idea.

As previously stated, Rage is a decent story. The pace is excellent. The story is written in the voice of the characters and is very true to them. Rage brings up the topic of abusive relationships in a realistic way. I had no problems speeding through it. It's these things that make it a 2.5 star instead of a 2 star book.

There were a few things that irked me though.
1) The characters are 18 (or nearly) year old girls graduating high school, but every once in a while the conversation and thought processes seem befitting of highschool freshman or even eighth graders. I could understand this for the bad girl with the drug adled parents, but not from the goody-goody, super genius. She's top of her class, at the very least there should be some sort of explanation as to her sudden extreme plummet in diction. (Of course, I could be biased from my own goody-goody experience with some not-so-goody women,) but it just didn't feel right to me. I kept picturing the girls as far younger than they were.

2) There wasn't a lot of explanation of why the sweet geek would fall for the druggie degenerate. It's not that the event is improbable, but there does need to be a reason. The story begins with the MC already having a crush on the promiscuous, abusive lesbian, when there are plenty of better girls to choose from, and we never really get to know why. We can sort of assume the reason, but there's never a flashback to the first memory of liking the girl and what struck her as so special.

The reason this still gets that extra half star (and yes, this was well thought out) is because you feel like you're right there with the characters. Even when it's unrealistic, even when you want to know why, even when you're angry at them for being stupid, you feel what they're going through. Still, the plot isn't original enough to give it that midpoint push to make it 3 star material. You can't just add lesbians into the mix and act like the whole scenario hasn't been done before. As much as I usually enjoy Julieann Peters, I can't completely back this one.

Would I suggest adding this book to your summer reading? I wouldn't dissuade you from it. However, I think the books to be reviewed next week will be far better.

<3 Gina Blechman

P.S. Pet peeve: I was looking at the Amazon ratings for this book and noticed the average was 4 stars. Then I looked at the comments which were full of people saying "OMG, this book was so great, because it totally opened my eyes to the fact that lesbians can be in abusive relationships too. I never thought of a woman abusing another woman before." Okay, it's fantastic that this book helped to make some people more open-minded, and I'm grateful for that. And if we remove the iffy, occassionally unrealistic age thing, it is a pretty accurate portrayal of what an abusive relationship looks and feels like. BUT just because a book is trying to promote a certain cause that may or may not be highly discussed does NOT make it a good book. I'm not saying Rage is a bad book, (it certainly isn't), I'm just saying that I have a very high standard; therefore, the controversy of a book's topic does not play into it's rating.

I also think that sometimes LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) YA books get higher ratings from LGBT teens than they should, because many LGBT teens are starved for media that relates to them. I know whthat I used to be so excited at any chance to get my hands on a book with gay, bisexual, or transgendered characters, being so regularly bombarded with hetero media, that even the books that weren't that great seemed at least pretty good in my eyes. Of course, now I rate much harsher than I did when I was 14.

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