Friday, November 21, 2014

Book Review

Anatomy of a Misfit by Andrea Portes

5 stars out of 5

The story begins with the main character Anika pedaling as fast as possible toward some ominous, unnamed disaster. Throughout the narrative, peppered every now and then, come these chapters with Anika getting closer and closer to whatever disaster has her freaking out. It adds narrative tension and an element of mystery that the novel would otherwise lack. It makes for an action packed first chapter, but I think the story would be just as strong without it.

The main story is about Anika trying to figure out her life and her place in the school pecking order. Anika is #3 on the social rung, a place she's lucky to occupy and that is precarious at best. Anika hates mean girl Becky, social position #1, but doesn't dare cross her. Anika's best friend is an airhead who sleeps around and occupies social position #2. Just as Anika's beginning to consider challenging Becky's evil plots, uber nerd Logan rolls back to school on a moped, looking really hot and determined to win Anika's heart. If Anika admits she likes Logan, Becky will eviscerate her. Suddenly Anika has to decide whether to choose her heart or social acceptance.

These days, as a writer and YA reader, it's impossible not be knocked over the head with people talking about voice. It's that elusive quality that no one can quite define, all the publishers want and that can make or break an otherwise decent novel. This book has enough voice to fuel the entire YA genre for a year. It's the perfect example of how voice makes a story. Edgy, raw, sarcastic, deprecating, honest and authentic. Every aspiring YA writer should read this book for the voice alone. Added to that amazing voice, however, is a genuinely great story. There are plenty of books out there that deal with kids trying to navigate the rocky waters of the high school social scene, however very few of them do it this well. There's just something that drags you into the story and makes you want to keep reading, makes you care about the characters.

None of Portes' characters are perfect and their flaws and virtues makes each of them real, brings them to life. I also appreciate that Portes resists the urge to wrap her ending up in a pretty neat bow. I won't give away what the disaster hinted at throughout the book is but it's compelling and authentic to the story line. It fits and in the end is more than just a gimmick. The ending is raw and genuine, but still satisfying. It brings the story full circle to the issues that were introduced at the beginning of the narrative.

This is going on my shelf of favorite reads for the year and I hope you'll take the time to check it out. Fans of contemporary YA will not be disappointed.

Anatomy of a Misfit will appeal to fans of Love Letters to the Dead by Ava Dellaira and It's Kind of a Funny Story by Ned Vizzini.

Favorite quote: "Let's just call it like it is, no need to pretty it up. I care what other people think of me. I'm not Jesus Christ. I'm just a girl in the world."

Find it on Goodreads >>

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