Contemporary

Deciding on a DNF: Kill the Boy Band by Goldy Moldavsky | Guile by Constance Cooper

As much as I love books, there are some that just don’t work for me. In this installment of Deciding on a DNF, I’ve got two novels that garnered very different reactions from me. Both were–on the surface–perfect “me” books. Neither ended up a favourite.

Disclaimer: E-galleys were provided by the publisher for review consideration. 

Kill the Boy Band

Okay, so just know from the start that it wasn’t supposed to go like this. All we wanted was to get near The Ruperts, our favorite boy band.

We didn’t mean to kidnap one of the guys. It kind of, sort of happened that way. But now he’s tied up in our hotel room. And the worst part of all, it’s Rupert P. All four members of The Ruperts might have the same first name, but they couldn’t be more different. And Rupert P. is the biggest flop out of the whole group.

We didn’t mean to hold hostage a member of The Ruperts, I swear. At least, I didn’t. We are fans. Okay, superfans who spend all of our free time tweeting about the boys and updating our fan tumblrs. But so what, that’s what you do when you love a group so much it hurts.

How did it get this far? Who knows. I mean midterms are coming up. I really do not have time to go to hell.(Goodreads)

Two words that can draw me into any novel? “Boy band.” I make no secret of my adoration of the cultural phenomenon, and Goldy Moldavsky’s novel seemed like it would be exactly my kind of contemporary YA. Instead, I walked away after 40-odd pages, having gone from delight at the fangirl representation to utter shock and dismay.

The amount of fatphobia that manages to exist in the first 40 pages is rather astonishing–none of the events in the book would have happened if one character hadn’t been fat-and-clumsy enough to literally knock a man unconscious. That same character is given her name after she’s found rummaging through trash for an apple. She’s only a baby in that scene, but the revelation is played for a poor joke. Perhaps one snarky joke might have been unnoticeable, but it’s hard for me to let even one go because that only leads to a slippery slope. Why excuse one joke and not excuse the rest?

It doesn’t feel so much like satire as it does punching down: at fangirls, at fat girls, at teens who love things and people passionately. A very quick DNF, maybe, but one that I feel was justified.

Guile Constance Cooper book coverYonie Watereye lives in the bayou. The water there is full of guile, a power that changes people and objects. Yonie, 16, makes a living investigating objects affected by guile, but in fact it’s her talking cat, LaRue, who has the power to see guile.

Yonie becomes aware that someone is sending harmful guile-changed objects to certain people, including herself. Her investigation becomes entwined with her hunt for the secrets of her mother’s past and leads her to discover dangers hidden within her own family.

In the suspenseful adventure that follows, Yonie and her furry sidekick face challenges that could end their adventuring forever. (Goodreads)

It’s never a good sign when you’ve read through almost 100 pages of a book and you still can’t figure out what’s going on. When I first heard about Guile, I thought that the cover copy was slightly confusing–what is guile?–but I had faith that the book would explain what was going on. It did, to an extent, but I couldn’t keep the knowledge straight. Constance Cooper’s writing style is rather matter-of-fact, like a more stark fairy tale, but there’s a distance between the reader and Yonie, like Yonie doesn’t quite trust us to be able to follow her story. Maybe she has a point. I found myself questioning every piece of information provided, and wondering if I would eventually get to a point where I could connect to Yonie, even if I didn’t agree with her decisions. Ultimately, the lack of emotional connection to the character, and the story in turn, gave me enough pause to DNF.

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