Thursday, October 10, 2013

Review: Blaze by Laurie Boyle Crompton

Title: Blaze (or Love in the Time of Supervillains)
Author: Laurie Boyle Crompton
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Release date: February 1st 2013
Pages: 309
Genre: Young Adult contemporary
Source: BEA - I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Thanks!
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Blaze is tired of spending her life on the sidelines, drawing comics and feeling invisible. She's desperate for soccer star Mark to notice her. And when her BFF texts Mark a photo of Blaze in sexy lingerie, it definitely gets his attention. After a hot date in the back of her minivan, Blaze is flying high, but suddenly Mark's feelings seem to have been blasted by a freeze-ray gun, and he dumps her. Blaze gets her revenge by posting a comic strip featuring uber-villain Mark the Shark. Mark then retaliates by posting her "sext" photo, and, overnight, Blaze goes from Super Virgin Girl to Super Slut. That life on the sidelines is looking pretty good right about now...
My rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Despite the unusual set-up and quirky comic-book aspect, Blaze is a very typical contemporary YA story. The novel is entertaining but very basic: there are aspects I enjoyed but also aspects that frustrated me about Blaze, making this an average read for me.

The storyline that frustrated me the most is the romance, for its predictability and cliches. Blaze is incredibly naive in all things concerning Mark; I wanted to shake her and make her realize what is completely obvious to the reader. The romance isn't quite the predictable love triangle because the second love interest doesn't really appear until Mark and Blaze are over, but Mark and Quentin do perfectly personify the bad-guy/good-guy stereotype, and that kind of story always frustrates me to no end. The way Blaze acts in all things concerning Mark... just, ugh. How much she believes Mark to be a good guy isn't exactly unrealistic, but I just can't deal with narrators as naive and starry-eyed as Blaze.

Another aspect that bugged me is the slut-shaming. In the first half of the book, Blaze does not hold back on her contempt for the school slut Catherine Wiggles. I had assumed this would be to show how her opinion changes once she sees what its like to have people talk about you like that. And in a way, that is the case -  she stops hating Catherine once she finds out that nothing people have said about her is true. My problem, though, is that her fundamental attitude doesn't change - Blaze still believes that if someone had done what people accuse her and Catherine of, they would be a slut and would deserve to be ridiculed. The point that even if a woman embraces her sexuality and has done the things Blaze and Catherine are been accused of, there is nothing wrong with that, is never addressed, which frustrated me and felt like a form of slut-shaming by itself.

The family storyline is okay. My favorite part of the novel, by far, is Blaze's relationship with her younger brother Josh - they have a strong brother/sister bond that I would like to see more of in YA. The relationship between Blaze and her parents, though, I wasn't sure about. The set-up is interesting, but the later developments are predictable, and I thought the ending, in this storyline, was way too abrupt - I wanted to know more about the further implications of what Blaze figures out about her relationship with her dad.

I know my review has been mainly negative but Blaze is not a bad book. Laurie Boyle Crompton's writing flows nicely, making this an entertaining read even when some of the storylines frustrated me. And the whole comic-book thing is quirky and fun. There were quite a few things that frustrated me personally, but if you don't mind predictable plots, I think Blaze can be an entertaining read.

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