Thursday, December 26, 2013

Review: Pretenders - Lisi Harrison

Lisi Harrison
Series: Pretenders, #1
Genre: Young Adult, Realistic Fiction, Contemporary
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
Word Rating: Half a book
On Goodreads

I got Pretenders on Netgalley, having found out about it through an email. The concept intrigued me – the secret journals of five students were leaked, the book being a compilation of those journals. At Noble High School, all the freshmen were required to fill a journal of 250 pages for their English classes. The five journals included in the book come from the Phoenix Five – the five “most outstanding” freshmen, as elected by the school. I suppose at this point I should have figured out that Pretenders wasn’t going to cover the entire year, but foolishly I let myself believe that I would find out the fates of these characters. Imagine my surprise when the end of the book came just as everything was beginning to get interesting. Craziness starts happening and then there’s a page like, “Oh, you want to know what happens? TOO BAD BECAUSE THIS IS THE END OF THE BOOK. SEE YOU NEXT TIME.” Not cool. None of the characters have a full arc, there is no climax, and there is no resolution. Pretenders is half a book. Plain and simple.

Now that I have somewhat vented my frustration regarding the lack of whole book-ness, onto some analysis of the book.

The book follows five fairly clich√©d character types: Sheridan the ditsy blonde, Duffy the jock, Jagger the mysterious bad boy, Lily the weirdo, and Vanessa the nerd. Despite how easy it is to pick out these archetypes, I found these characters rather charming. There was nothing especially deep about them, but they had charisma. There was something about them that kept me interested in their story – something relatable, I suppose. Between all the characters, Lisi Harrison was able to cover many challenges that a freshman in high school may be facing, so that was a plus. They were nothing to rave about, but I don’t really have anything terrible to say about them either.

While looking through some other reviews of Pretenders I read one that complained of how not all the characters had equal story time, how it seemed as though the author cared more about one character’s story than another. However, I believe that the journal entries were distributed differently to add to the characters. For example, Sheridan tried out for the school musical, struggled with making new friends, and had to deal with her best friend drifting away. She had so much going on and a lot to say about it. On the other hand, Jagger is a mystery – he is hiding something. If he had an equal amount of journal entries as Sheridan, I’m not even sure what he’d say. His journals were minimalistic, just touching on what was happening in his life, and anything more would ruin his mysterious nature.

Although I was frustrated with the cliffhanger ending, I’d still say that I found Pretenders to be a fairly enjoyable book. Yes, a lot of the book is exposition, but it was like getting to know real people and seeing what they’re like. Yes, sometimes the characters were annoying, but I was able to have sympathy for them at times. I don’t think I’ll ever stop being mad about the end of this book, but I’m actually looking forward to the next book, License to Spill, and to how the stories of these characters unfold.

- Kiersten

What do you think about books without a full plot line? Is it acceptable in a series?
Let us know in the comments!

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