Thursday, August 20, 2009

Book Review(s): Pretty Tough and Playing With the Boys

Title Pretty TOUGH
Author Liz Tigelaar
Genre YA Commercial Fiction
Rating D+

Summary Charlie and Krista Brown (yep, you read it right--Charlie Brown) are sisters who hate each other. Charlie isn't happy with her life; she's a high school sophomore who doesn't have any friends (her best friend spread a rumor about her freshman year), and she thinks Krista is full of herself. Krista is under intense pressure to stay with her uber-popular boyfriend who's already been accepted early admission to Yale, and her best friend (a D-list Hollywood actress) doesn't think that Krista is all that. When Charlie crashes Krista's senior season of soccer, they both learn something.

First Line "For nearly twenty seconds, Charlie was convinced she was dead."

Review Imagine reading a book where you don't particularly like reading the protagonist's POV. Now imagine that the book in question is told in alternating POV's between two sisters, and you don't like either of the voices. Charlie is whiny and Krista is a narcissist. Good times, right?

The story was moderately interesting and the ending, although a little bit obvious from a long ways off, was actually written pretty well. I finally saw why Charlie and Krista hated each other. Too bad it took me 200 pages to get to that point. The author didn't do a good job of fleshing out the sisters--you knew they hated each other, but you didn't know why. This book would have been infinitely better if the author had elaborated on the complexities of the sisters' relationship before page 174. She made me work way too hard to finish this book.

Also, just as a side note, doesn't the cover look like that girl is missing a foot? That might make it sort of hard to play soccer, right?

Title Playing With the Boys (A Pretty TOUGH Book)
Author Liz Tigelaar
Genre YA Commercial Fiction
Rating C

Summary Lucy Malone is transported from Toledo, OH, to Malibu, CA, with her dad after her mother dies. The loss of her mom and the cross-country move are tough to deal with, but she meets Charlie Brown (remember her?) and some other great girls when she tries out for the soccer team. Unfortunately, she doesn't make it, but she can really bend it and when the place kicker for the football team gets injured, Lucy gets goaded into going for the goal.

First Line "Lucy Malone had always felt that she was just one letter short of 'lucky,' and in her fifteen years on this planet, her theory had definitely been proven true."

Review Remember the problems with Pretty TOUGH? (You should. The review's right up above... go read it again if you've forgotten.) Well, Tigelaar cleaned up her act on this book.

Lucy is an instantly-likable narrator. Her problems are complex and you understand why and you care pretty much straight-away. The drama surrounding the boys/crushes/let's just be friends situations were much more compelling in this second book. The only hang-up for me was that the tension about Lucy's dad's prohibition of her being on the football team was too melodramatic. Everything else was pretty good (not high-brow literature, sure, but decent reading), but this just rang as not all that believable.

I almost didn't read this book (because Pretty TOUGH was so bad), but I'm glad I did. Tigelaar is definitely evolving as a writer and I'll be looking forward to future books in this series.

Recommendation People who like their YA literature with a little "girl power" thrown in.

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