Thursday, September 2, 2010

Review: So Many Boys

Review in Short: The second in the Naughty List catches up with Tessa Crimson after she's hung up her cheerleading skirt, disbanded the vigilante SOS, and broken up with her all-but-perfect boyfriend, Aiden. Now, however, she's stuck in this in-between place, not quite as secure in her friendships as she was the year before, hooking up with her ex-boyfriend (but not dating him), and trying to work on herself without the added stress and pep of cheering. When a copy-Kitten starts her own vengeful brand of SOS, the Smitten Kittens call on Tessa to help them catch her and as the copy-Kitten gets more and more devious, Tessa's life falls further and further apart though she's frantically trying to piece it back together. This is a worthy successor to THE NAUGHTY LIST and sets up a third book quite well, but all is not perfect. A few of the relationships seem disingenuous and the ending falls apart, souring my opinion of this sweet book. 83/100 = B
Premise: 9. After her split from both the Smitten Kittens (the cheering and spying aspects) and boyfriend Aiden, Tessa's working on herself. This means hanging the skirt up, yoga, beauticians, and being in an "un-relationship" with the boy she's still in love with. But when the now-defunct SOS is brought back to life by a copy-Kitten, the squad needs Tessa's cheer more than ever.

Plot: 8. As in the first book, the movement and pace of the plot was close to flawless. Though this isn't a "shock and awe" sort of book, there were definitely some surprising moments and just enough uncertainty to keep you on your toes. However, I was at times a bit annoyed with the choices the characters made and felt as if certain plots were dragging on unnecessarily.

Characters: 8. There were a few characters I just loved in this book (Joel and Leona, most notably), others I couldn't stand, and then some... some that I just wanted to slap. Unfortunately, Tess fell into the third category. Between the time she breaks up with Aiden and leaves the squad and SOS, her trademark confidence and pep seriously plummets. It makes for an interesting and relatable character, but also for one that I got frustrated with more often than not. There were some decisions she made (especially in the end of the book) that just didn't ring true to her honest, caring, and lovable personality, which irked me. Also: Aiden. In the first book I wasn't sure what I thought about him or how I felt, but it didn't take long into SO MANY BOYS for me to realize I definitely don't like him.

Relationships: 8. Tessa's relationships in this book are all a little rocky, a little undefined. She's no longer the leader of the Smitten Kittens and because of this her friendships with the other girls (especially Captain Kira) are strained. Additionally, her undefined relationship with Aiden is stressing her out, and the founder of SOS seems out to get her. While most of the relationships in this novel were very well written and, if not all sparkles and sunshine, very interesting and fitting for the story, there were some that bothered me. The way a few of her relationships worked out in the end seemed disingenuous to me, and I got tired of the back-and-forth with Aiden. Still, there was definitely more good than bad here and I loved her relationships with Leona, Joel, and even Mary.

Setting: 10. The setting here is less setting and more the general atmosphere surrounding Tessa. In a short amount of time she's lost (or at least half-lost) all the things that mattered most, that made her who she was, and because of this there's a definite sense of confusion in the novel. The fact that her parents are rarely around helps add to this feeling of unease.

Themes: 9. Friendship, love, self, and loyalty. These themes are explored subtly, as this definitely isn't an issues-focused novel, but very well, especially as the novel nears its conclusion.

Voice: 9. I missed Tessa's incessant pep and sugar-coated swears in this book. They were there still, but much less. However, this was fitting with the whole atmosphere of the novel and I don't think it would have worked any other way.

Ending: 6. Sadly, this ending really fell flat for me and really soured the way I feel about the rest of the novel. Though I appreciate the set up of the third book in the series, many of Tessa's actions seemed out-of-character and I felt that the copy-Kitten got off way too easy considering all that she'd put her so-called friends through. The ending between Aiden and Tessa also seemed a bit tacked-on and, though not out of character for them, irritating for me as a reader. That said, this is still very much a winning series and I can't wait for the next installment.

Recommendability: 8.

Fangirly: 8. It would be more if not for the ending. It would be less if not for the first book and the promise of a third.

This book gets 83 out of 100, a B.
For fans of the first NAUGHTY LIST novel and anyone who wants a sweet, light read about relationships and espionage.

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