I was sent this book by Harper Collins Australia in exchange for an honest review. I had seen the book in stores before, but didn't think too much of it since I haven't heard much about it. I decided to read it as soon as I opened the mail as I was eager to find out what it is about.
"Five teenagers. Five lives. One final year.
The school captain: Ryan has it all … or at least he did, until an accident snatched his dreams away. How will he rebuild his life and what does the future hold for him now?
The newcomer: Charlie’s just moved interstate and she’s determined not to fit in. She’s just biding her time until Year 12 is over and she can head back to her real life and her real friends.
The loner: At school, nobody really notices Matty. But at home, Matty is everything. He’s been single-handedly holding things together since his mum’s breakdown, and he’s never felt so alone.
The popular girl: Well, the popular girl’s best friend … cool by association. Tammi’s always bowed to peer pressure, but when the expectations become too much to handle, will she finally stand up for herself?
The politician’s daughter: Gillian’s dad is one of the most recognisable people in the state and she’s learning the hard way that life in the spotlight comes at a very heavy price.
Five unlikely teammates thrust together against their will. Can they find a way to make their final year a memorable one or will their differences tear their world apart?" -Goodreads
CHARACTERS; The characters remind me a lot of The Breakfast Club. Each one is dramatically different; with their own characteristics, attitudes, lifestyles, and ultimately being their own person. And I really enjoyed how Ayoub played around with this. All the characters are going through something throughout the book as each one narrates their own chapter.
Ryan is my favourite male character. He is crossed between a try hard nerd, and the 'too cool for school' sporty kind. However, Ryan is so determined to get his life on track, to be the best he can be, and to continue caring and loving those around him. Plus I pictured him smokeinnn!
Charlie is very opinionated and doesn't care what people have to say about her. I enjoyed reading Charlie's perspectives as she is such a strong minded character. She reminded me a lot of a typical novel heroine such as Katniss or Tris.
Matty is going through a really hard time with his home life, and this is drastically affecting his school life. Matty is a character that draws a lot of sympathy from the readers as he is the loner and life just seems to not be going his way.
Tammi is probably my favourite female character. Yes, she is the typical popular girl, but behind the scenes she is so much more and better than that. She knows what she wants to do with her life, but no one seems to support her. She is probably the character that develops the most throughout the book.
Gillian is an adorable character who is so enthusiastic and optimistic, despite her absent parents, and when they are present they bully her almost as much as the kids at school. Gillian is the only one who voluntarily signs up for the yearbook committee, and this is evident in their monthly meetings.
At the beginning, when all these characters first came together, they all clashed and argued. They either didn't get along, or have never spoken before. I loved reading on in the story to see how this slowly changed.
PLOT/STORY LINE: I found the plot a really unique idea of Ayoub's. She used the idea of a yearbook to bring five completely different characters together. However, the entire book was not about the yearbook. Each character had their own story line, some of them crossing over with each others. Each character was in their final year of high school and therefore they are all trying to discover who they are and what they want to do with their lives. Apart from that Ryan has to change his future around after an injury, Charlie wants to move back to Melbourne, Matty's mum is in a lot of trouble, Tammi's whole life is being controlled by her parents, best friend and boyfriend, and Gillian is struggling with bullying at school and at home. I found each characters' individual story lines somewhat relateable, and I think this could be the case for many teenage readers.
However, there were some minor parts of the story lines that I think were skimmed over, not completely resolved, or just random to begin with. I'll talk more about this in the spoiler section at the end.
NARRATIVE PERSPECTIVE: Each character took turns narrating a chapter from their viewpoint to tell their story. I found this a really good aspect as I as the reader was able to get a deep insight into the characters' minds and what they are going through and thinking throughout each situation. Each character was given an even amount of chapters, which meant we got to know all of the characters equally. I thought that I was able to gain a more personal relationship with the characters through their chapter as they shared so much. It was also interesting to view what each character thought of each other and their opinions of one another.
In addition to these chapters were Gillian's 'minutes' for each yearbook meeting. She noted what songs they listened to, snack they ate, what they talked about, and discussions for the next meeting. Not only did I find this unique and interesting, but it was also quite humorous and comical. Sometimes she would go into so much detail about things that were happening during the meeting that had nothing to do the the yearbook, and it definitely lightened the mood at some points.
ENDING: I will go into more detail about the ending in the spoiler section, but I did not see it coming. The overall ending was quite deep and emotional as each characters story came to a close. However, there was a part before the real ending which was a massive plot twist that I did not expect to happen at all. I thought that it was a little bit random and I wish that Ayoub had gone into more detail with it. But it did send a really important message out to readers. Before the characters went in for their final exams, they all wrote a letter to one other character wishing them well and what not. After the last chapter finished, these letters were printed out, and I really loved this touch. It was so nice to see what each character thought of each other and it was a nice way to end the book.
RATING: Taking everything in to consideration, I have decided to give this book 4.5 stars out of 5. I loved the characters and the storyline, and although I had some minor issues with the ending, I still loved it overall. I would highly recommend this book to any one really; teenagers, lovers of light contemporary, and people who are trying to find their place in the world. Definitely pick it up!
*WARNING - If you have not read the book yet or don't want any spoilers, please stop reading now!*
Here are some extra points that were somewhat bothering me about the book, that I couldn't talk about without spoiling important parts of the book.
Firstly, the death of Gill. I didn't see it comming at all, and when it first happened I was completely shocked. I thought that it was kind of random and I wish that Ayoub had gone in to more detail with it. She could have extracted alot of emotion from the readers and other characters, yet she almost just briefly brushed over it. When I got to thinking about it, it was really sad as Gill was such a big character in the book who was going through a lot, and there was a lot of things that she wasn't able to do; such as confront her mum about her constant criticisms, stand up to the bullies at school, and even finishing up the yearbook. Thinking back to all her extra passages in the book, I just couldn't believe what happened.
I also thought that Matt and Gill were going to get together. They were so cute and I really could see it happening, but for obvious reasons it never will :(. I loved how Ryan and Charlie got together. They are complete opposited, but they balanced each other out. I also thought that Tammi and the guy from the park (Mark was it?) were going to end up together because I thought that he was cute, but I think he ended up being a dodgy drug dealer (I also found this really random).
Thanks for reading guyz! Be sure to pick the book up and I'll be doing a more detailed review on my YouTube channel soon :)
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