Review Time! You Against Me is written by Jenny Downham who’s the author of bestselling Before I die. The cover is quite catchy I do think with the dark colors and then this burst of red (although I think it’s usually green, my copy that was kindly provided by random House Australia was red) Anyhow, let’s start…
(Goodreads) If someone hurts your sister and you're any kind of man, you seek revenge, right? If your brother's been accused of a terrible crime and you're the main witness, then you banish all doubt and defend him. Isn't that what families do? When Mikey's sister claims a boy assaulted her at a party, his world of work and girls begins to fall apart. When Ellie's brother is charged with the crime, but says he didn't do it, her world of revision, exams and fitting in at a new school begins to unravel. When Mikey and Ellie meet, two worlds collide. Brave and unflinching, this is a novel of extraordinary skillfulness and almost unbearable tension. It's a book about loyalty and the choices that come with it. But above all it's a book about love - for one's family and for another.
The Short Story? - A novel about loyalty and first love, You Against Me is a novel about the tug of war between love and family as we follow the novel through the eyes of Mikey and Ellie two teenagers whose worlds have collided. It’s a novel about loss and pain and dysfunctional families. Moving, beautiful and captivating. This one is for the contemporary lovers.
The Long Story? - You Against Me is a dark contemporary and to an extent a Coming-to-Age novel. I hate both dark contemporaries and Coming-to-Age novels but I surprising enjoyed this one. It’s not something I would usually read and it’s very different. There are parts that I really enjoyed but there are also parts where I thought it was quite boring.
My main problem with dark contemporaries is the plot or a lack of a plot. For someone who reads action-packed, paranormal love stories with happy endings, dark contemporaries are a little boring and depressing and bittersweet. You Against Me was written beautifully but it was a circular plot. You started with no answer and you ended with no answer. There is development but the ending is quite disappointing. This sexual assault that the book is based around, that made Mikey and Ellie’s worlds collide was talked about all through the novel. The trial, the lawyers, the solicitor, the hate, the pain and in the end it was still an unsolved case. Downham has built this whole story around this assault only to leave all the loose ends hanging. I understand that You Against Me is more of a ‘finding yourself’ novel and it’s more heavily based on emotional development but the ending was somewhat lacking. I seem to have this problem with every dark contemporary I read…
The characterization was good though. Downham has written the book through alternating perspective from Mikey to Ellie and so forth. It’s clever that she did that since we as readers get to read both sides of the story. I found that both protagonists were connected in a way even when they come from very different backgrounds. Which I guess is why they are attracted to each other. They’re very well portrayed and developed and part of the novel is focused around them find themselves and what’s important to them. They’re both dealing with families that are dysfunctional so they seek comfort in each other. Good romance, Downham has built between them, it’s…bittersweet. Gives love a different meaning.
The writing was very comfortable. Gives me a feeling of a soft, quiet narrative voice but it’s very strong and moving at the same time. Language used suggest that it’s written for teens of all ages but the contents suggest maybe it’s written for an older YA crowd. Very beautifully and moving writing, very melancholy but comfortable and easy to read.
I found that even with the somewhat lacking plot, You Against Me was quite captivating. The journey both Mikey and Ellie went through was moving and it’s a novel about pain and loyalty and first love. I liked it, it wasn’t my favourite book, I struggled with it in parts but in the end –it was enjoyable, I did like it. It wasn’t “me” but it’s definitely one that all contemporary lovers should read, this one is for you.
Rating – 7/10 ( It’s much easier to use a 10 scale with contemporary reads since there are more things to consider while reviewing)
Badass Bookie xx