Friday, 8 February 2013

Slammed by Colleen Hoover

Publication date:  18th September 2012
Published by: Atria Books
Genre: YA, Contemporary

One of the downsides to investing time in reading a novel is when said novel has a promising synopsis and it starts out as a good read, only for it to deteriorate later on and conclude with an anti-climax.  Slammed was NOT one of those novels – it was the complete opposite.

Leykan is forced to leave her home in Texas and move to Detroit following the sudden death of her father.  She moves with her mum and 9 year old brother, Kel, into a small house in a cul-de-sac where she meets Will, a neighbour she becomes increasingly attracted to.  Will, who is a big fan of slam poetry, asks Leykan out and takes her to the place where he goes to perform his poems.  Will evades questions about himself and they both avoid asking the obvious first date questions.  Only when Leykan manages to convince Will to step to the mike and perform one of his poems does she get a glimpse of who he is, and through the poem she discovers they have something in common.

I had a problem with the beginning.  Three chapters in and I was thinking “Unbelievable!” And I meant it literally.  The scenario of how Leykan and Will were brought together was too coincidental to be feasible.   It reminded me of the Brady Bunch – two broken families whose structure and circumstances were identical, brought together to create a new family.  Surely that would (and should) only happen on TV. 

I also had a problem with the romance.  It was difficult to buy because it felt premature and rushed.  It happened before there was time to get to know the characters, so it was hard to feel anything other than detachment and indifference. 

Just when I was beginning to think choosing this novel had been a mistake, it started to get interesting.  It was at the point when (a week after their first encounter) the couple discover something about each other that forces them apart.  I don’t want to give too much away but let’s just say they really should not have avoided those obvious first date questions.  What is left is a ‘forbidden love’ type of situation where both characters have to come to terms with the separation while having to not only see and be around, but also interact with each other on a daily basis.  The dynamic of this angst-ridden relationship is well portrayed by the author and I started to engage with the characters and hope things would go in their favour.

Leykan has a lot to deal with – her dad’s death, the abrupt ending of her blossoming relationship with Will and her mother keeping secrets from her.  She comes across as a strong character who handles it all very well.  I did come to like her.
I also liked her relationship with Eddie, a school classmate who decided to take Leykan under her wing.  Eddie decides that she and Leykan aren’t just going to be friends but the best of friends.  As their relationship develops and Eddie’s backstory is revealed it all makes perfect sense.

Despite my criticism of the ‘Brady Bunch’ type family arrangement, I do think the novel showed very well how circumstances can cause people to form bonds that are as close as family – and with all the joy and pain that comes with family. 

There were several trips to slam poetry night and a number of poems were read.  I found all the poems to follow a similar format – used as a way for the poets to divulge their demons, which was fine but there was a lost opportunity to mix it up a bit.

The romance was a little too fluffy (sickly sweet) for my liking, but I realise that may be just me.

So, I had mixed feelings about this novel and found myself up and downgrading it as I went along.  I’ve decided to settle somewhere between 3.5 and 4 stars.

 My appeal to readers

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