Sunday, December 27, 2009

Book Review: Queen of Secrets by Jenny Meyerhoff

Title: Queen of Secrets

Author: Jenny Meyerhoff

Pages: 240

Received from: Around the World Tours


This year Essie Green’s life is going to be different. She’s made the cheerleading squad and caught the eye of the captain of the football team. However, she didn’t expect her estranged cousin to join the team too. Micah is instantly branded a freak for wearing a kippah and praying during games, and Essie doesn’t want anything to do with him. As the football team’s teasing of Micah shifts into hazing, Essie struggles to do what is right—even though it might mean losing her new friends and boyfriend.

Esther Green aka Essie has remarkably made the cheerleading squad her sophmore year, by extension earning herself high ranking among the "in" crowd, including the attention of the star player, Austin. But when her estranged (and mega-religious) cousin Micah moves back to town and joins the football team, her newfound popularity is suddenly threatened by his blatant religious habits (notably the beanie/kippah he wears on his head at all times). When the guys on the team begin their inevitable ostrication, Essie must choose between her family (two sides of it, actually) and her new buds which, like, sucks you guys.

I'm taking this entire review in stride, because I seriously doubt that I would go to any sort of heaven slamming it. But here's the thing: I didn't like it. I didn't not like it, but I didn't like it, either. It was so...immature. The author had previously only written for children, which explains things, but it's still very evident that Meyerhoff hasn't interacted with any teenagers in a very long time.

Now, I'm unable to instill much know power into the actual behavior of the characters, because I am not a cheerleader and I don't know any cheerleaders and cheerleading in my school is kind of like the Eighties High equivalent of Band Geeking (i.e. not popular at all). But I am able to insert my signiture Teenage Understanding into this review by letting you all know that I did not for one minute believe anything that was coming out of these kid's mouths. Harsh? Possibly. But that's how I roll and if that's a problem find another blog.

In elaboration: as we all know, believability is a huge factor for me when I pick up a book. Do I like these characters? Do I care for them, for their happiness? Do I relate? Can I flesh out these people in my mind? Or are they just words on a page, like those kids you read about in rhetorical situations found in STD and abstinance pamphlets? I was, unfortunatly, leaning towards the later as I went farthur into the story. There was no clever mystery behind Essie's past (such as her parent's death) or between her grandfather and uncle's Big Fight. As soon as someone had a question, they got an answer. It felt like everyone was 2-D, unreal and a tad boring. The cheerleaders were just as one would expect cheerleaders in a YA book to be; either way too perky, way too slutty or way too mean. And, omigod, Austin was so cute! I felt like there was no attempt at originality as far as characters went. Even our protagonist, Essie, felt like such a blank slate. She's quiet and shy and loves boys (especially Austin!!!) and wants to fit in and wants to be popular! and only feels fulfilled when she has a shitload of friends surrounding her and, okay, this may or may not reflect on many girls in this country, but it's not someone I want to read about. I want to read about a girl who stands up for herself, and doesn't wait until the very last chapter to do it. I want to read about a girl who can think of something other then Austin's dreamlicious eyes, or someone who has interest other then dance and cheerleading and talking on the phone. Her friends, the writer, the artist, and the drama queen (and Essie makes the dancer! it's like a goddamn toy box!) are so not-present I really wonder why they were there in the first place other then to take up paragraph space (especially so for the drama queen/acrtress. She's literally mentioned as a girl in a prom dress and tiara in the third chapter and then never again. She's so not-present, in fact, that I forgot her name completly.) Everything felt so hallow and fake and preachy (y'know, about being yerself!)

However, this isn't to say Queen of Secrets is unreadable. Far from it, in fact. I read it pretty quickly. It has it's little moments of sweetness and I could honestly feel some sort of connection between Essie and her love interest, Austin (on a side note, kudos to Ms. Meyerhoff for not going so completly cliche and making Austin a total d-bag.) The religious aspects were fairly original and I could see myself liking Essie and Micah had they been stretched out a bit more. The writing itself isn't complelty horrible, but I believe Meyerhoff either needs to read a few more YA novels or stick to children's books, because, again, not buying it.

Overall, a cute, fast read, but I wouldn't bother unless your a sucker for a good heartwarmer and junk.

Rating: 5 out of 10

Also: Ladies and gentlemen...kitteh.


runningforfiction said...

Hmm...I just read a review about loving it, and now you don't like it. I must read this.

choco (In Which a Girl Reads) said...

I love the honesty in this review! I really like the cover, and I've been trying to read more contemp books lately. But I think I will steer clear of this one :)

Kristen said...

"Or are they just words on a page, like those kids you read about in rhetorical situations found in STD and abstinance pamphlets?"

This line in your review cracks me up. The book probably wasn't going to be terribly likely to be on my to read list anyway but this decides it. LOL!

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