Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Book Review: CRACKED UP TO BE by Courtney Summers

So, now that my computer (which fell off my bed Monday morning) is in the computer hospital, I've had lots of time to read. So in the two days i was computer-less (using a loaner now) I devoured this book. Two days well spent!

I should mention that I'd heard a lot about this book before ever opening the front cover. From writer friends and book bloggers and such. But last month, when my agent handed me a copy, it became definite. I would read CRACKED UP TO BE.

As I said, I'd heard a lot about this book. But I hadn't heard ANYTHING about the ending. Which, really, is amazing. No spoilers. Nothing. I went in not knowing what to expect, and with this book, that is the best way to start. For that reason, I will make a concious effort to avoid any and all spoiler-ific info while writing this book review. Here goes:

Parker Fadley used to be perfect. She was an Honor Roll student, the cheerleading captain, and the girlfriend of the hottest boy in school. Perfect, perfect, perfect.

But when we meet Parker, she's not perfect anymore.

She's a mess. She's being forced to see the guidance councelor once a week. She is no longer a cheerleader or an Honor Roll student or anyone's girlfriend. To be honest, she's kind of a bitch, and she knows it. she's doing everything she can to drive people away from her. She just wants to be left alone.

But the new kid, Jake, makes that really, really difficult when he starts to fall in love with her.

And Jake starts asking questions. Questions Parker doesn't want to answer. Because Parker knows that something horrible has happened, and she's pretty damn sure it's her fault.

What exactly has Parker done? Good luck guessing, because I was left wondering that same question until the last fifteen pages of the book.

And that's really what makes CRACKED UP TO BE so remarkable. In most YA fiction, I can typically guess what's going on. This doesn't make a book bad. I'm just observant. But with CRACKED UP TO BE, I truly had no idea. I clung to every single one of Parker's flashbacks, trying desperately to peice it all together. I never did. Not until the end.

Another great thing about this book is the character development. They are all so real! First there's Chris, Parker's ex. When we first meet him, he seems like a complete perv, but as the narrative unfolds, you gradually see his deeper layers. He's a genuinely sweet guy who's just trying to figure out what went wrong. Then there's Becky, the girl who took Parker's place as cheerleading captain...and as Chris's girlfriend. You want to hate her. You want to loathe her. But it's hard. She's not a bad person. She makes mistakes, but she isn't a villain at all. And let's not forget Jake. I expected him to be a stereo-typical nice-guy who "loves her for who she is." But Jake surprised me. He is a nice guy, but he can hold his own against Parker, who definitely puts him through the wringer.

And then there's Parker. She's sarcastic, negative, and sometimes selfish. At times you're repulsed by the things she says. But you can't stop. You know there is something deeper, something causing her to act the way she does, and when you finally find out, it all makes sense. She is complex and intriguing and I really, really loved her without meaning to.

The book had perfect pacing that kept me reading for hours on end. It is dark and deep and definitely edgy. In a lot of ways, CRACKED UP TO BE reminded me of Laurie Halse Anderson's SPEAK. Which is, of course, a huge compliment to Courtney Summers.

All in all, I TOTALLY recommend CRACKED UP TO BE. I loved it, and I know that means you will to.

Now I just have to wait for SOME GIRLS ARE, Courtney's next it out yet????


Joanna said...

I knew you would!!!!

In honor of Courtney:


suzie said...

I LOVE CRACKED UP TO BE! Some Girls Are is amazing too :) Comes out in January. So. Good.

Frankie Diane Mallis said...

Oooh you just made me want to read it and I would have never picked this book up on my own -good job! The way you describe the suspense you are in trying to figure out what Parker has done kind of reminded me of 13 Reasons Why-you're desperate to find out why Clay-the sweetest guy ever-has gotten the tapes, what could he possibly have to do with Hannah's suicide. Ok now I feel like running out to get this. Hope your computer problems move far behind you:-)

Dee said...

I *love* books that keep me guessing until the end! I'm putting this on my list of must-reads...

Susan Adrian said...

YAY you and Courtney!!! I am not surprised you loved it. :)

courtney summers said...

Eee! Kody, I can't thank you enough for this! I read the whole review with a huge :D on my face. I'm just thrilled that you liked it! That you took the time to post about it totally made my day!! THANK YOU. I just wanna fill this comment box with thank yous, to be honest. :) So so glad you liked it!

Kody Mekell Keplinger said...

Aw, Courtney, I really did love it! It totally gave me the same feelings as SPEAK (which is one of my all-time favorites) and I haven't found a book like that in a long time! I CANNOT wait to read SOME GIRLS ARE now.

Emilia said...

Courtney. Is. Awesome. Remember that interview I did? :) CutB should be loaded into helicopters and dropped in boxes on unsuspecting towns everywhere.

Daisy Whitney said...

This book is one of my favorites of ALL TIME and the reason I started writing for young adults. AND, her next book SOME GIRLS ARE is even better. Courtney is a force in YA!

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