Friday, April 20, 2012

Review: 7 Clues to Winning You

Kristin Walker
When Blythe's family moves across town mid-semester, she's forced to go from her wonderful, academically-driven high school (Meriton) to the lower-class high school (Ash Grove) where her dad is the principal. Blythe, who isn't used to not getting her way, dreads the school switch for plenty of reasons, not least of which is the embarrassing nose-picking picture of her that went viral (thanks to her new school's yearly scavenger hunt) two years ago. Within the first week at her new school, Blythe gets revenge on all those who keep calling her "Booger Girl" by getting the beloved Senior Scramble scavenger hunt cancelled. When this makes the student body hate her even more, she quickly teams up with senior hotshot Luke Pavel to take the forbidden scavenger hunt underground, knowing that if they get caught it'll be her taking the fall.

What I got from this book was exactly what I expected going into it: a cute teen romantic comedy that's enjoyable but ultimately forgettable. None of the characters have much depth to them, but instead quirks that elevate them from the stereotypical roles they inhabit. (For instance, popular, preppy Blythe quotes Shakespeare.) The fact that none of these characters are fleshed out makes it difficult to really care about them or become invested in their lives and relationships. Of course, as this book is primarily a light, slightly-goofy comedy, maybe we're not meant to care much about the characters? I don't know. But personally, as a reader, I like caring about the characters. I love becoming invested in their lives and I wasn't invested here.

While the story is cute and predictable, with a few secondary stand-out characters (like Jenna and Cy, the sort-of-goth couple Blythe befriends), the majority of the characters were bland and I had issues with Blythe herself. One of the bigger themes running through this book is Blythe's unhappiness with her dad's goal to become superintendent. Because of this job opportunity, her family has to sell their house and move to the school district where her dad works. She has to switch schools. Both her old and new schools are fairly close to one another -- close enough that she still gets to meet her BFFs for coffee and shopping -- but for Blythe, the move and school switch is nothing short of life-ruining and she hates her dad for how "selfish" he's being. This is one of those rare instances where I think to myself, hey, maybe I'm too old for this book. Because all I see here is Blythe being selfish and ungrateful and thinking that she's better than those around her, that she knows better than everyone else does. (This thinking sadly doesn't change much throughout the course of the book.) And maybe if I were younger I'd have more sympathy toward her (but then, probably not).

However, my issues with Blythe's attitude didn't stop this from being a cute and humorous book. There were few LOL-worthy moments, but the situations Blythe found herself in and the choices she made were entertaining. Her love interest, Luke, is one of the more bland love interests I've come across, with his main attributes being that he's cute and can quote Shakespeare just as well as Blythe can (honestly I loved the nerdy/intellectual sides of Blythe and Luke and wish those aspects of their personalities had been able to shine a little more). He serves his purpose as The Crush, but as a character in his own right he's lacking. Luckily, the story itself -- Blythe's goal to keep the Senior Scramble going and win the respect and admiration of her new classmates -- is entertaining enough even with lackluster characters.

7 Clues to Winning You will be out Apr. 26th.

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