Saturday, 3 May 2014

ARC Review - Frenemy of the People by Nora Olsen

Frenemy of the People

Frenemy of the People by Nora Olsen
Series: Standalone
Published by Bold Strokes Books
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary, LGBT
Pages: 264
Rating: 2/5 stars
Clarissa and Lexie couldn’t be more different. Clarissa is a chirpy, optimistic do-gooder and a top rider on the school’s equestrian team. Lexie is an angry, punk rock activist and the only out lesbian at their school. 
When Clarissa declares she’s bi and starts a Gay-Straight Alliance, she unwittingly presses all of Lexie’s buttons, so Lexie makes it her job to cut Clarissa down to size. But Lexie goes too far and finds herself an unwitting participant in Clarissa’s latest crusade. Both are surprised to find their mutual loathing turning to love.  
A change in her family’s fortunes begins to unravel Clarissa’s seemingly perfect life, and the girls’ fledgling love is put to the test. Clarissa and Lexie each have what the other needs to save their relationship and the people they love from forces that could tear them all apart.
I received this book for free from the Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Lexie and Clarissa were not pleasant people. They were snotty, spoiled little brats and they acted like it. Lexie’s gold-star lesbian girlfriend broke up with her to go away to college and she has no other friends at school. Clarissa’s friends, a group of stuck-up girls who she has ridden horses with for as long as she can remember, prove to be unsupportive and distant when she suddenly comes out to them as bisexual and quits riding competitively. Her only remaining friends are her older sister Desi, who has Down’s Syndrome, and her ex-boyfriend Matt.

Clarissa didn’t make a good impression on me to begin with, as I found her coming out story to be trite and so unbelievable. She had a thought that “hey, I might like girls” and immediately announced to her friends that she was bisexual. To prove her interest in girls to herself, she went up to the only lesbian she knew of (who just happened to be Lexie’s ex) and randomly kissed her. A stranger. Yeah. Not impressed. She pissed me off again later when she wildly overreacted to Lexie’s mother’s purchase of her beloved horse and took it out on Lexie.

Lexie wasn’t much better. She was incredibly self-righteous and judgemental and reminded me of Ava from Pink by Lili Wilkinson (another character whom I found irritating). She was slightly more believable than Clarissa, but that doesn’t excuse her behaviour.
The only character I actually liked was Desi. I thought it was nice to see a character with Down’s, because yay diversity! Unfortunately Desi ended up being more of a plot device than a real human being, but it’s a start…

There’s not much plot here to speak of. The biggest conflict was that Lexie’s parents were broke and were losing their mansion (which they shouldn’t have bought in the first place). I thought it was kind of ridiculous that Lexie oh-so-conveniently knew a shit-ton about banks and loans and mortgages. What kind of sixteen/seventeen year old girl has that kind of knowledge? I’d nearly twenty-two and I don’t know that stuff (nor would I be expected to at this point). The secondary plot, Desi’s desire to be homecoming queen before graduating, was little more than a way of getting Clarissa and Lexie to spend more time together.

Behold, info-dumping! While most of the writing was what I expect of contemporary YA – informal, casual language, minimal description with more focus on introspection and dialogue – there was WAY too much info-dumping here. I also thought that it was strange how similar Clarissa and Lexie sounded in their respective chapters, considering how “different” they supposedly were.

If this had been a hetero-romance, I’d have DNF’ed it. That said, there are so few LGBT books available in YA that it was worth reading. If you’re looking for quality with your girl-romance, I’d look elsewhere.

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