Title: Adorkable by Sarra Manning
Release date: May 24th 2012 by Atom
Age group: Young adult
Genre: Humourous contemporary
Grade rate: A+
Jeane Smith's a blogger, a dreamer, a dare-to-dreamer, a jumble sale queen, CEO of her own lifestyle brand and has half a million followers on twitter.Michael Lee's a star of school, stage and playing field. A golden boy in a Jack Wills hoodie.They have nothing in common but a pair of cheating exes. So why can't they stop snogging?
Whatever you're expecting from this book, unexpect it.
Jeane's seventeen and living the dork dream: she's made her oddness into a lifestyle brand and is considered something of a teen icon to millions of people worldwide. But this blogging guru is hiding some harrowing secrets - and it will take a very special person to help her find her true self again.
Adorkable has a great premise, a great male lead, laugh-out-loud humour and a writing style that will leave you breathless - or rolling in the dust. Just like it's namesake, it's is a complete mash-up of characters and style and it makes for a vibrant, chatty and often conflicted book.
I'll be honest: he real beginning of Adorkable is about eight chapters in. There are identity crises and flashes of humour galore - and they almost make up for the fact that for the majority of Adorkable, Jeane acts like more of a bitch than a dork. She's abrasive, snippy and sometimes, downright cruel. She's one of the world's most in-demand lifestyle bloggers, but there's an undeniable sense that many of the choices she labels as 'dorky' are motivated by a desperate need for attention.
There is, however, one person who undoes this acerbic attitude. Michael Lee wears branded clothes and gels his hair. He plays sport and partakes in extracurricular activities. Worst of all, even Jeane's legion of Twitter followers could never compete with his many real friends and his ability to simply get along with everyone. He is Jeane's antithesis. He's not perfect but he is, without doubt, one of the most genuine and lovable young adult love interests I've read in a long time. There was chemistry in his relationship with Jeane, but he was also a normal teenage boy with normal teenage angst and of course, some ever-present and slightly predictable teenage boy reactions. His Asian heritage makes for the icing on top of our very lovely Michael-shaped cake. This book is nothing if not multi-cultural and I adored that as well as the dual narrative.
Adorkable isn't exactly plot-heavy, but it does document a transformation. Jeane's hard to relate to and even harder to like, but there are plenty of other characters who fill out the backdrop to her journey (because while Michael plays a very important role in this story, we all know it's Jeane who needs to make the most dramatic change). The gormless exes of both main characters aside, there was a great cast who collectively captured the modern teenage experience very well. Michael's family, Jeane's sister, Gustav and Harry the endlessly entertaining neighbours - I loved them all.
What I didn't love was the fact that Jeane's parents are absent from most of the book. Likewise there are several emotional bomshells which are mentioned once and never spoken of again. These included some very inappropriate references (for example, a casual mention of a past relationship between Jeane and a much older man) and there are some very appropriate ones (for example, a casual mention of a past relationship between Jeane and another girl - the ease with which the author deals with Jeane's bi-curious nature is something I'd really like to see more of in YA). As a result of these contradictions, the emotional power of the story was lessened.
Adorkable is an acquired taste, but if you perservere, the investment is definitely worth it. A four star rating may be a little too generous (don't read it on a bad day, you'll just be irritated - remember it requires an open mind!) but it was oddly addictive and strangely satisfying, so I'd definitely recommend it.
As Jeane would say: “Welcome to the dorkside. It’s going to be a bumpy ride.”