Saturday, January 22, 2011

Triple Review: Ttyl, Ttfn and L8r, G8r

Ttyl by Lauren Myracle
(Amazon / Goodreads)
 Amazon description for Ttyl:

Three high school sophomores, lifelong best friends, are now facing a variety of emotional upsets in their personal and social lives. Angela is boy crazy and emotive, but able to lend support to her friends when they need it. Zoe is the quietest and most self-effacing, considered by some to be a goody two-shoes but in fact headed full speed into a very dangerous relationship. Madigan is the hothead, less certain of how to grow up than she allows anyone, including herself, to see. The entire narrative is composed of the instant messages sent among these three, from September into November, as they each get involved with dating, sort out how to have friendships with others, cope with disasters that range from wardrobe issues to getting drunk, and offer one another advice and defiance. Each character's voice is fully realized and wonderfully realistic in spite of the very limiting scope of the IM device.

My rating: 4 out of 5 stars

At first, I was a bit wary of these books - I didn't think the unusual format would work. I thought it would be impossible for the reader to get enough information about the plot and the characters only from IMs without the conversations seeming forced (it wouldn't have been very realistic if the author had made the characters explain every situation they were in, even if the person they  are IMing already knew about it). However, Lauren Myracle made it work!

She managed to give the reader just enough information for them to understand what happened, without making the conversations seem stilted. Sometimes one of the two IMers didn't know what happened, so it was easy, but other times Lauren Myracle thought of clever ways to integrate what happened into the natural flow of the conversation.

Ttfn by Lauren Myracle
(Amazon / Goodreads)
The plot, while not the most original, portrayed teenage life realistically - most of the problems the three main characters  had were problems every teenage girl knows - guy trouble, fights between friends, mean girls, gossip, etc.

What I liked most about the book were the characters. I thought it would have been problematic to portray the characters only with dialogue and without any sort of description, but it worked perfectly! Each of the characters had a distinct voice and I could imagine them easily. All three of the main characters were easy to relate to. Even though Angela's whining was annoying at points (more in ttfn and l8r, g8r than in ttyl), this, too, seemed like a realistic portrayal of teenage characters - because honestly, don't we all have something we're kind of whiny and melodramatic about?

L8r, g8r by Lauren Myracle
 The theme (that friendship is the most importatnt thing) was cute, albeit a little overdone at points (Angela and Zoe tell their friends how great they are and how lucky they are to have each other a bit too often for it to seem realistic to me).

I guess you could critique that the side-characters were a little cliched and underdeveloped, but it would have been extremely hard to develop them more without ever having them actually appear in the book (it only shows the IMs between the three main characters).

One thing that I think could have made the book better would have been different styles of writing for the different characters. What they said characterized them well, but how they typed didn't. All three of them typed the same way, but I think it would have helped set the characters apart if they used different styles. For example, 'Good Girl Zoe' seemed like she would take the time to write "you" and "are" instead of "u" and "r", while I don't think Maddie could have bothered to write "don't", and instead should have left out the apostrophe and written "dont". That's not that big a deal, though.

Overall, it was a cute, fun and enjoyable read that made me laugh out loud at times (especially Maddie was hialrious). No, it isn't deep or meaningful, but I think we all need some fun, fluff reading every once in a while, and if that's what you're looking for, this series is perfect for you!


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