Thursday, 18 July 2013


Cracked Up to Be by Courtney Summers

When "Perfect" Parker Fadley starts drinking at school and failing her classes, all of St. Peter's High goes on alert. How has the cheerleading captain, girlfriend of the most popular guy in school, consummate teacher's pet, and future valedictorian fallen so far from grace?

Nobody would have guessed she'd turn out like this. But nobody knows the truth.

Something horrible has happened, and it just might be her fault.

Last year, I read Courtney Summers' most recent novel, This is Not a Test, an unconventional take on the zombie apocalypse. I didn't love it, but I liked it enough that I wanted to read her other books. But I decided to wait for the bind-up edition of this book and one of her others, Some Girls Are. That decision got thrown out of the window two weeks ago when, on the spur of the moment, I ordered this book, her debut. I was halfway through it when I decided to order her other two novels. So it's fair to say that I quite liked this.

It's a cracking read - fast and sharp, but also thought-provoking. I genuinely could not get it out of my head during the hours I couldn't read it. Seriously, I spent a whole afternoon at work checking my watch every five minutes waiting for my lunch-break so that I could finish it off. It's that good. 

Every review I've read of this book mentions Parker being an unlikeable character, and I'm not going to break with convention by skipping over it, however much I'd like to. I never found her unlikeable as a character, though I get that she's not the kind of person that you'd want as a friend. But I think that's what I love about Parker - she doesn't need other people to like her, she doesn't even want them to like her. There seems to be this trend in YA books where the main character, if it's female, has to be sweet, and nice, and likeable. If she's not popular, it's because she's quirky and different to the popular kids. It's not because she's a nasty piece of work, or even just someone who doesn't want to be a part of the popular crowd. Parker is snarky and mean and just an absolute pleasure to read about. Honestly, I found her a lot easier to relate to than most main characters, though I'm not sure that says good things about me.

The only issue I had with this book was the ending. I'm not going to spoil it for you - because I want you to go and read it and experience it for yourself - but the ending didn't sit right with me. The reveal of Parker's secret was a little disappointing to me, because I'd built it up to something else in my head - something that I considered to be so much worse - but that made what really happened a surprise, and you know how much I like being surprised by a book. But after that, after the revelation...I don't know, I just didn't feel like the ending fit with the rest of the book, with the characters. It just didn't seem right, and that bothered me a little bit. Not enough to keep me from adding Summers to my auto-buy list from now on, but still, it did bother me.

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