Thursday, August 28, 2014

[Review: Girl Defective by Simmone Howell]

"Girl Defective"
Author: Simmone Howell
Series: None
Pages: 320
Genre: YA, Contemporary, Music
Date Published: September 2nd, 2014
Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers
Format Read: eARC provided by publisher (via Edelweiss) for honest review


In the tradition of High Fidelity and Empire Records, this is the literary soundtrack to Skylark Martin's strange, mysterious, and extraordinary summer.

This is the story of a wild girl and a ghost girl; a boy who knew nothing and a boy who thought he knew everything.

It's a story about Skylark Martin, who lives with her father and brother in a vintage record shop and is trying to find her place in the world. It's about ten-year-old Super Agent Gully and his case of a lifetime. And about beautiful, reckless, sharp-as-knives Nancy. It's about tragi-hot Luke, and just-plain-tragic Mia Casey. It's about the dark underbelly of a curious neighborhood. It's about summer, and weirdness, and mystery, and music.

And it's about life and death and grief and romance. All the good stuff.

My Thoughts:

An Open Letter To Girl Defective,

There are those things that connect with you in ways you can't describe. There are books that spill words, strung together, made out of your heart and soul and when you read them you can't believe the connect that you have with them. Girl Defective, you're one of those books for me. I connected with you on a level that I can't even begin to understand, and I don't really want to. I want to be able to share you with everyone, but I know that some people just won't get you at all. I pity those people, because you're pure, unadulterated magic. You're kooky 60s and 70s music reference spoke to me on so many levels and your characters are some that I won't be forgetting, ever. You're gonna stay with me for the rest of my life and I hope that you enjoy that ride as much as I enjoyed you!

-The White Unicorn

I'm just gonna say it. Girl Defective is work of art and Howell has created a world that feels odd and kitschy and magical. Nothing is main stream, everything is off kilter and this book is perfectly unapologetic, just like it needed to be. It pulled me right in and I felt like I knew these people and I loved living in their little, odd world for as long as I got to. 

The music, guys, the music references in this book are pure gold! As a self proclaimed music junkie I was thrilled with the albums, songs and artists that Howell chose to highlight within these pages. She could have fallen into using bands that most of all know. The Beatles, AC/DC, Queen, The Rolling Stones, but instead she tossed out references that are less known and I loved it. The Martin's record store is named after a track called Wishing Well by The Millionaires that I'd never heard of, but then I looked it up and I understood why she used it as such a meaningful part of her story. I suggest you YouTube it! She also gives us references to songs that I grew up with that I have collected on vinyl for myself over the years. Any book that talks about Janis Joplin, Carly Simon, Incense and Peppermints, Jan and Dean and Secret Agent Man is a friend of mine. I'm stoked that a younger generation will be able to learn about some of these tunes and artists that I love so much.

The other thing I loved about this book was the pacing. It was like a fantastic Indie film. Something was always just a little off in the perfect way. It highlighted the big moments, but wasn't afraid to slide off into tangents that felt like they would have nothing to do with the story. Don't doubt Howell's storytelling, she uses everything in all the right ways.

No perfect book is perfect without great characters and these ones are spot on. Skylark is seriously lost and looking for a place to belong. I loved that I still found so many ways to connect with her. I'm notorious for having issues with characters like Skylark, but there was something so endearing about her angst that I instantly became a fan. Her music knowledge helped, but it was the way she put her feelings into words that really connected with me.

Gully was awesome. He's so smart and so unhinged at the same time. In his case, it's a winning combination and I loved the relationship that he and Sky had. You felt it. That big sis looking out for her brother vibe was strong and perfect. Through a out of the picture, rock star mom and a drunk dad in the mix and The Martins are a family that works. I honestly loved their dynamic, even though sometimes it got touchy, they loved each other, no matter what.

Luke, Nancy and Quinn also add so much to the music infused tale. These three characters really amp up the mystery of the novel. Because on top of the great family dynamics and the music, Howell also throws a mystery into the plot. I loved this because all the puzzle pieces surrounded these characters and helped Sky figure out what was going on, both in the world and in herself. Nancy self-destructive nature bled into her life. Luke became the perfect love interest, with a dead sister. And Quinn became the friend that every person needs in their life.

I can't say enough about this book. I want to tell everyone about it. I want to tell everyone to read it. I want it to be the next big thing. Who knows? Maybe people will connect to it on the same level that I did and we can all fan-girl over this book together! Now go get yourself a copy!

      5 Unicorns = Get your hands on this NOW!


Little Miss Becky said...

This sounds so fun! Love a good mystery and I love books with lots of music involved. I was sort of on the fence about this one but you've definitely convinced me!

Nicole said...

I doubt I will connect with this one as much as you did but I still love music in books and everything else about it sounds great too. Thanks for sharing!