Book Review #7: Solitaire by Alice Oseman

Monday, 29 December 2014
Product details:
Publisher: Harper Collins Children's
Format: Paperback
Length: 400 pages
Published: 2014
Rating: ☆☆☆
Source: Purchased
In case you’re wondering, this is not a love story.
My name is Tori Spring. I like to sleep and I like to blog. Last year – before all that stuff with Charlie and before I had to face the harsh realities of A-Levels and university applications and the fact that one day I really will have to start talking to people – I had friends. Things were very different, I guess, but that’s all over now.
Now there’s Solitaire. And Michael Holden.
I don’t know what Solitaire are trying to do, and I don’t care about Michael Holden.
I really don’t.

So I have to say that Solitaire was probably one of my most anticipated reads for the summer. Why is that you may be asking? Well I will tell you. Solitaire is written by 19 year old Alice Oseman, and if that doesn’t get you questioning ‘What?! 19 and she’s written a book?!’ then I don’t know what will. I tried to write a book at 19, but never thought of getting it published. Alice succeeded so that kind of influenced me to read her book to see what such a young author could be capable of. You don’t see many young authors about these days so I thought I would give it a go, and the premise intrigued me. So what did I think? Well…

  • I have to be brutally honest and say that Solitaire drew me in within the first few pages. It’s narrated by Tori Spring, a pessimistic girl who hates school and loves to blog. I mean, I believe that covers atleast 1/4 of the tumblr population? Im intrigued. Then she goes and makes comments about who to ship in Harry Potter. I thought Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell was good, but this mention. Ugh it just drew me further and further in to the story! Such a good thing. 
  • Solitaire is written from the perspective of a teenager, and is authored by wait for it… an actual teenager! Huzzar! Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love when the main characters in books are teenagers, I mean that’s what YA discusses. But to have one from the actual perspective of a current 2014 teenager?! Yes. This is what I needed. It made Tori’s character so realistic as she was discussing issues that I once asked myself when I went through a phase of disliking school. And it’s all for the same reasons! I also admired Tori’s hate of literature. It is very rare these days that you see a character disliking books. I mean authors often don’t mention it at all and completely avoid it, or they make their characters adore books in general. Alice didn’t do this with Tori and it was something that I really appreciated. Although myself I am a book hoarder love, it was nice to see a character with such strict oppositions to me in that area. It really made me value her points a lot more. I also loved the little snippets of school life that we’re told to conform to. PEE on your paragraphs? I love it! Takes me back to my school life! 
  • The storyline was interesting and I really liked how it progressed. The idea of Solitaire being this anarchist group developing in a high school? Beautiful. I love the idea of anarchy at such a young age, not that I am promoting it in anyway, don’t get me wrong. I really just like the idea of it being explored in novels, especially by teenagers as we find in life that anarchy can be developed in any stage or any form and quite often we associate anarchy with opposition and dislike, and often this is a trait found in stereotypical teenagers. Correctly explored and developed. I applaud you Alice Oseman. 
  • I liked the fact that the whole aspect of Solitaire was focused around Tori’s character, and her dislikes for things and people were kind of reflected through this. Obviously at the start this was something that wasn’t prominent but as the story went on and the members of Solitaire organised the brutal beating of that boy. I understood why it happened and I felt that he deserved some sort of punishment for what he did, but that. Wow. It just really shows me what anarchy can do to some people. Saying that I really enjoyed this aspect however makes me question whether I thought it was specifically necessary to focus all of their anarchist doings around Tori’s character. It did make it interesting and obviously I can’t see the novel without it but it makes me question whether we still would have anarchy in school if it wasn’t focused around Tori? Perhaps a question to ponder.
  • Michael Holden. Hmm now this is a point I want to explore individually because I did enjoy all of the characters in Solitaire but Michael Holden for me was a questionable one. Now don’t get me wrong I enjoyed the way that Alice Oseman portrayed him and I understood his character. But whether he was likeable enough for me? That’s debatable. Michael Holden, in my own opinion could have been developed slightly more. For me, he was kind of just ‘there’. He moved the story along and developed Tori’s character being a love interest but I didn’t feel any particular connection with him what so ever. I think this might be something that could change with a re-read of Solitaire but for the minute that is how my opinion stands. 
  • I should probably point out as well that my favourite part of this entire book didn’t actually have anything to do with the plot. It’s on the last page of the book and Tori is making a reference to sitting down and watching the television. She talks about how you can feel when a film ends and the screen goes black and you often in that moment start questioning your life, pondering all the deep questions about will you ever get a happy ending ect. I loved that as a final line. I think even more than F Scott Fitzgerald’s “so we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past’ from The Great Gatsby. I love memorable last few lines and Alice Oseman does a great job in making her final statements so prominent! 

Overall I did enjoy this book, but looking back and thinking about it, there actually isn’t much that I can say stands out in my memory. There are a few plot points, but everything kind of blurs together, and I have to say that even hours after I finished Solitaire I started to feel that way. So this book is definitely going to be a novel that I re-read because although in one way I loved this book, I have to say that there wasn’t much more too it and I think I was looking for something just a little extra that I can’t put my finger on. For this reason I feel that overall Solitaire is going to get a classification rating of 3 stars. It was a good book and I did enjoy it but there was nothing huge that jumped out at me. I will however look forward to anything else Alice Oseman writes - especially to see how she can develop on from Solitaire.

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