Friday, September 20, 2013

Mini-Reviews: Kody Keplinger Novels

A Midsummer's Nightmare
Publisher:  Poppy, 304 pages
Publication Date:  June 5, 2012

From Goodreads:
Whitley Johnson's dream summer with her divorcé dad has turned into a nightmare. She's just met his new fiancée and her kids. The fiancée's son? Whitley's one-night stand from graduation night. Just freakin' great.

Worse, she totally doesn't fit in with her dad's perfect new country-club family. So Whitley acts out. She parties. Hard. So hard she doesn't even notice the good things right under her nose: a sweet little future stepsister who is just about the only person she's ever liked, a best friend (even though Whitley swears she doesn't "do" friends), and a smoking-hot guy who isn't her least, not yet. It will take all three of them to help Whitley get through her anger and begin to put the pieces of her family together.

Filled with authenticity and raw emotion, Whitley is Kody Keplinger's most compelling character to date: a cynical Holden Caulfield-esque girl you will wholly care about.

The book starts off with Whitley waking up, hungover, next to a guy who she had sex with the night before but she doesn't remember his name.  He asks for her phone number, but she says no.  It was a graduation party, she's off to the University of Kentucky in the fall, and she's going to spend the summer with her dad, like she always does.  But this summer is different, because she finds out her dad is engaged to some woman she's never even heard of, and the cute guy from the night before is her son.  So they are living together this summer.  Talk about awkward.  Hooked me from the very beginning.

This book was a fun read even though it was dealing with some serious issues.  Whitley definitely goes through ups and downs over the summer. Whitley never got over her parent's divorce, she has a pretty sad life at home (her mom basically doesn't care what she does), and she deals with her problems by partying and drinking a lot (which does not make her happy).  Although Whitley isn't that likable, she is relatable and her voice is honest and fresh.  I liked Nathan, who is such a good guy and when you find out about that night with Whitley from his POV...awww.  Highly entertaining and enjoyable.  The ending wraps everything up a bit too neatly (and I'm still curious how everything is actually going to work), but hey, it's fiction!

Shut Out
Publisher:  Poppy, 273 pages
Publication Date:  September 5, 2011

From Goodreads:
Most high school sports teams have rivalries with other schools. At Hamilton High, it's a civil war: the football team versus the soccer team. And for her part,Lissa is sick of it. Her quarterback boyfriend, Randy, is always ditching her to go pick a fight with the soccer team or to prank their locker room. And on three separate occasions Randy's car has been egged while he and Lissa were inside, making out. She is done competing with a bunch of sweaty boys for her own boyfriend's attention

Then Lissa decides to end the rivalry once and for all: She and the other players' girlfriends go on a hookup strike. The boys won't get any action from them until the football and soccer teams make peace. What they don't count on is a new sort of rivalry: an impossible girls-against-boys showdown that hinges on who will cave to their libidos first. But what Lissa never sees coming is her own sexual tension with the leader of the boys, Cash Sterling...

A bit of a silly premise (a sex strike because the girls of football players and soccer players are sick of the rival between the guys), but a fun read.  I enjoyed seeing Lissa take charge of her life and figure out it was ok to be who she was (a bit of a control freak and unsure about sex).  In fact, it was refreshing to have all of the girls bond and discuss sex in such an honest way.  There are some serious messages here about slut-shaming and double standards when it comes to guys and girls.

Cash...what a sweetheart!  Cute, sexy, soccer playing, nice literature-loving guy who works in a library part-time to help out his family because money is tight...does a guy like that exist in high school?  And the dad in this book is nice and supportive, such a change of pace.

Publisher:  Little Brown/Poppy, 280 pages
Publication Date:  September 7, 2010

From Goodreads:
Seventeen-year-old Bianca Piper is cynical and loyal, and she doesn’t think she’s the prettiest of her friends by a long shot. She’s also way too smart to fall for the charms of man-slut and slimy school hottie Wesley Rush. In fact, Bianca hates him. And when he nicknames her “the Duff,” she throws her Coke in his face. 

But things aren’t so great at home right now, and Bianca is desperate for a distraction. She ends up kissing Wesley. Worse, she likes it. Eager for escape, Bianca throws herself into a closeted enemies-with-benefits relationship with him.

Until it all goes horribly awry. It turns out Wesley isn’t such a bad listener, and his life is pretty screwed up, too. Suddenly Bianca realizes with absolute horror that she’s falling for the guy she thought she hated more than anyone.

Bianca and Wesley both seemed so real, with faults and issues and problems.  Bianca was a bit whiny and cynical, but she was still likable and relatable and I was definitely rooting for her.  And Wesley.  An obnoxious jerk, and not in a good way.  I really disliked him (every time he called Bianca "Duffy" I just cringed and wanted to smack him), but he really started to grow on me and by the end, with the note and then the letter, I was saying aww.

The Duff deals with serious issues, such as sex, alcoholism, and low self esteem.  Since it was written in the first person, I could never get a sense of what Bianca actually looked like.  Kody Keplinger should be applauded for writing such a funny, honest, readable, and entertaining book.  I really enjoyed it, and the fact that it was written by a teenager just amazes me.

Posted by:  Pam


  1. I have yet to read anything by Kody Keplinger but I have seen these books around the blogosphere and usually with high praise! I've been wanting to read The Duff but you've convinced me to read A Midsummer's Nightmare too. I might pass on Shut Out though. The premise just sounds too silly even if it has other redeemable qualities! Thanks for sharing!!

    1. All three were fun reads. They make you smile while at the same time dealing with some serious issues. Hope you enjoy the ones you read! ~Pam

  2. I haven't read anything by Kody Keplinger, but these books have been floating around. I've seen The Duff on several blogs I follow and may have to check out some of Keplinger's books soon. Shut Out sounds a bit too...silly for me. I'll probably check out the other two though! Great reviews, thanks for sharing!

    Rebecca @ The Library Canary

    1. I've been reading a bit more contemporary YA lately and they're a nice change of pace from dystopian/post-apocalypic/fantasy books. I usually pick the ones that are lighter and will make me smile. These definitely did that (although there are some serious issues involved). ~Pam