Tuesday, September 20, 2011
YA Fiction: Shut Out by Kody Keplinger
Date: September 5, 2011
Acquired: won from a blog giveaway
Read: because it's a retelling of Lysistrata
Reading time: three days
Lissa is sick of the rivalry between the football and soccer teams at her school. It's lasted for years, kids are starting to get hurt, and it's interfering with her relationship with her quarterback boyfriend, Randy. So Lissa decides to do something about it. She and all the other athletes' girlfriends decide to withhold the one thing the boys can't get without them - sex. But they don't count on the boys-versus-girls showdown that ensues, running deeper than just a silly team rivalry, nor does Lissa expect the sexual tension that will crop up between her and the leader of the guys, Cash Sterling.
The first half of Shut Out was pretty mediocre. I enjoyed reading it, the pages went by fast, but the characters and plot seemed stereotypical for the most part. Sure, Lissa has some unexpected characterizations - rather than being a preppy cheerleader, she's a control-freak, OCD bibliophile - but Randy is the average dumb jock. I had problems seeing how their relationship lasted, much less why control-freak Lissa would consent to doing certain things with him. Well, mysteries began to be explained by the middle of the novel.
Several surprises came out of the text past about the mid-way point. The weirdness of Randy and Lissa's relationship came out, a new, less stereotypical guy entered the picture, and Keplinger added some new meaning to the book. Rather than be all about high school rivalries and sexual tension, the novel begins to explore gender relations and what's "normal" for teen sexual activity - no sex? Enjoying it? Participating but not enjoying it? In this way, Shut Out becomes a great novel for older teens who are wondering about sexuality and unsure about what feelings and drives are normal for their age.
Content: Despite being about a sex strike, there's no content that I considered explicit. Sexual situations and discussions are present, of course, but there's nothing my mother would be mad about me reading as an older (15/16+) teenager.