Monday 14 October 2019

Review on Solitaire

Tori Spring is starting her first year of sixth form, another year of needless, boring education and spending too much time on her blog, or so she thinks. When Solitaire makes itself known through a series of post it notes, Tori discovers she isn’t the only person at this school with a blog. Solitaire appears to be a prank blog, with different pranks happening in the school every week in what seems to be an attempt to make things less boring. Tori doesn’t care about Solitaire, but as the pranks continue, Tori’s new classmate, Michael Holden starts to notice a pattern, a pattern that just might point to Tori. Tori is soon determined to find out who is behind Solitaire, and why the pranks seem to be based around her.

I’ve wanted to read an Alice Oseman book for a while now,so I was happy when I found a copy of Solitaire in my local library. Solitaire is Alice’s debut novel which she wrote when she was just seventeen, which is a huge achievement all on it’s own! I’ve heard a lot of good things about Alice’s books, so I was eager to read one.

The book follows Tori, a girl who has attended an all girls school throughout high school. However, her sixth form (basically the last two years of school that are optional for any confused Americans!) allows boys to attend, which causes all kinds of problems for Tori, including awkward interactions with her ex best friend Lucas, and Michael Holden, a boy with a bad reputation who for some reason is insisting on trying to make friends with Tori. Oh, and there’s Solitaire. The Solitaire storyline was probably my favourite part of the book. I loved the mystery and how the prank aspect was based around Tori, such as playing songs she loved over the loudspeaker and getting revenge on her enemies. Although I did correctly guess who was behind Solitaire around the middle of the book, it still made me want to find out what pranks would be pulled next, as each prank became more extreme to the point that they eventually became dangerous. I loved how Michael and Tori teamed up in an attempt to learn more about Solitaire, and find out who was behind it.

I loved the main characters, particularly Michael. He was such a sweet character and I felt bad for him that most of his classmates thought he was weird, and how he didn’t have many friends. Something I completely adored about Michael was that he never defined his sexuality and refused to label himself. Society is so obsessed with putting people into boxes and I loved that Michael refused to put himself in a box. Honestly life would be so much easier without all the unnecessary labels we’re expected to conform to.

I found Tori relatable, especially with her mental health problems. Tori is a huge pessimist and always sees the worst in herself and other people. She feels as if she is unworthy of having Michael as her friend, and questions why he is even bothering with her, which is honestly something I do when someone talks to me. I loved that Michael didn’t just give up and realised how Tori was feeling, and made her realise he wasn’t just being nice to her because he felt sorry for her. I did however find Tori’s friends more relatable overall, especially with all the fandom references! I loved that Drarry and Destiel were brought up, as it reminded me of all the hours I used to spend on Tumblr reblogging gifsets of my favourite ships.

I adored Nick and Charlie, and I think I found out about halfway through the book that these are the characters who Alice’s webcomic Heartstopper is based on! I am definitely planning on reading Heartstopper as I would love more stories involving these two. Apart from Nick and Charlie, I didn’t really care too much about the rest of the side characters and found them pretty two dimensional. There is one point in the book where Tori has an argument with her best friend Becky, but I found it strange that she stopped talking to the rest of her friends too. I think I would have preferred if Tori had kept some of her friends instead of pretty much abandoning them all to hang out with Michael. I’ve had friends stop hanging out with me once they get a boyfriend, so I felt a little bad for Tori’s friends, as it seemed like that was what she was doing to them.

Speaking of the romance between Tori and Michael, I didn’t really care for it. The cover tells us that “this is not a love story,” so I was expecting little to no romance. I spent the majority of the book believing that Tori and Michael didn’t have romantic feelings for each other, and that there was going to be a cute platonic friendship between them. I was 100% ready to praise the book for having such a lovely friendship between a boy and a girl with no romantic feelings involved, something that seems to be rare unless one of the characters is gay. Honestly I don’t think I’ve been more disappointed about a kiss happening before, and I had to throw all the praise I was going to give this book for not turning their relationship romantic out the window. Not every story needs to include romance, and this ruined the idea of friendship being just as important as romantic relationships.

Apart from the romance I enjoyed this book overall and thought it was a fantastic debut novel. I’m looking forward to reading the rest of Alice’s books in the future!

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