Solitaire by Alice Oseman
Published: July 31st 2014 by Harper Collins Children’s Books UK
Genre: Contemporary (YA)
Rating: 2/5 stars – ★★
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.
It pains me to write this review. I had such high expectations for this book, and I’m sorry to say I’ve been sorely disappointed. Alice Oseman’s Radio Silence is one of my all-time favorite books, so I was really looking forward to reading more of her works. She is signing at YALC this year, so I wanted to read Solitaire and I Was Born For This before getting them signed. I now think I won’t bring this book to be signed…
This is the story of Tori (accidental rhyme), an English girl who I believe is 17 years old. I actually don’t know how to describe Tori, aside from the fact that she is struggling with her mental health and isolates herself. She doesn’t have many friends, she blogs, sleeps and spends time with her brothers.
I think the biggest issue I have with this book is because of Tori. I don’t mean to sound like a horrible person, but I think she is awful. By page 79, I was utterly disgusted with the way she talked about her “friends” and other students and the way she behaved. Here are some examples:
- she categorizes all the girls in her year in three groups: loud, experienced girls, strange girls and so-called ‘normal’ girls. She then states she shouldn’t group them like that, but still she does.
- constantly makes jabs at Evelyn about her blogging and her body (for example: “just post another photo of your legs, Evelyn. They already get reblooged, like, twenty thousand times.” The comments may seem harmless, but the tone of them really bother me.
- Even though there is a M/M relationship in this book (side characters), there were some weird comments (coming from the M/M couple in this case) like: “He’s gay, isn’t he? I heard he’s gay.” “Well, I heard that he figure skates, so it’s not entirely impossible.” Yes, way to reinforce stereotypes.
- Calling other girls attention whores (not said by MC, but still)
- Calling her best friend a ‘bimbo’ and saying that it pisses her off because she gets such good grades and then ‘acts like a bimbo’.
Anyway, I could go on. Maybe I’m taking some of these too seriously, but I don’t care. It bothered me to read them.
I wasn’t intrigued by the mystery either. To be honest, I couldn’t care less who was behind Solitaire. The pranks they organized went from kind of funny to absolutely horrible. And then there was the reveal. Spoiler alert: what the fuck was that reveal? When they revealed why Solitaire was created it was so fucking stupid. Sorry for the cursing but I just couldn’t deal!! Oh, I did it because I love you. Even though I haven’t seen or talked to you in 11 YEARS!! And then 10 pages later: yeah, I don’t love you. WHAT?? End spoiler
I just didn’t like this. I wish this book was about Charlie and Nick instead, because I would have loved that. I do know she is writing a graphic novel about them so I might check that out instead.
This book was kind of a struggle to get through. I did enjoy the second half more than the first one! But at the end, I was just left with a unsatisfied feeling. I didn’t really see the point of this story.
Lastly, I want to say the following: there are quite a few people who have given this book 5 stars. So don’t completely write it off just because I didn’t like it. If you do decide to read it, I feel like I should give you some trigger warnings because I definitely wasn’t prepared for them.
TRIGGER WARNINGS FOR suicide, suicidal thoughts, eating disorders and self-harm.