Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Review: The Awesome by Eva Darrows

The Awesome by Eva Darrows
Publisher: Ravenstone
Release Date: May 6th 2015
My Goodreads Rating: 4/5

Seventeen-year-old Maggie Cunningham is tough, smart, and sassy. She's also not like other girls her age, but then, who would be when the family business is monster hunting? Combat boots, ratty hooded sweatshirts, and hair worn short so nothing with claws can get a grip, Maggie's concerns in life slant more toward survival than fashion or boys. Which presents a problem when Maggie's mother informs Maggie that she can't get her journeyman's license for hunting until she loses her virginity. Something about virgin blood turning vampires into pointy rage monsters. Blood and gore and insides being on the outside and all that. Maggie's battled ghosts and goblins and her fair share of house brownies, but finding herself a boy - fitting in with her peers - proves a much more daunting task than any monster hunt. Did you know normal girls don't stuff their bras with holy water balloons? Nor do they carry wooden stakes in their waistbands. And they care about things like "matching" and "footwear." Of course, they also can't clean a gun blindfolded, shoot a crossbow, or exorcise ghosts from a house. Which means they're lame and Maggie's not. Because Maggie's awesome. The Awesome, in fact. Just ask her. She'd be more than happy to tell you. After she finds herself a date.

Alright guys, I have to say it.

The Awesome is actually awesome.

And it is super, super feminist - which makes it even MORE awesome.

It's not a perfect book. The plot itself is paper thin, and sometimes the narrative style goes a little bit too overboard. But it's a hella lot of fun, and certain aspects of this book just NAILED IT. And I think I can hit on every point that excited me by summing up a few key relationships.

Maggie and Janice (aka her mum)

This relationship is really the heart of the book and it's amazing. There are mum/daughter fights, there are 'omg mum you are so embarrassing' moments in there. But the absolute best part of this relationship? They are each others world. The love between them felt so real and so palpable.

And of course, I cannot talk about this relationship without talking about how sex positive it was. These two talk about sex a lot. Janice is open about sex for herself, but also for her daughter. At the end of the day, as long as Maggie is being responsible and isn't letting herself get pushed around - sex is cool! Why can't every book send this message?

Maggie and Julie (and Lauren)

Maggie has two girl friends in this book and I adored both relationships. Her friendship with Lauren develops really sweetly, and I loved it. But the most important of the two, in terms of the feminist message being sent, was Maggie's friendship with Julie.

Maggie is definitely a bit of a 'tomboy'. She's 'not like other girls' and she's okay with that. At no point does Maggie look down on Julie or her other friends for being more traditionally feminine. And likewise, while Julie acknowledges that Maggie is totally weird, it's never in a judgemental fashion.

This friendship is never front and centre, but I thought it was portrayed really well. I actually appreciated that a big deal wasn't made out of them being friends. It is what it is, and it shouldn't be considered strange.

Maggie and Ian

If you told me I would ship a guy that drunkenly called the female protagonist his ex-girlfriends name, right before passing out on top of her naked, with said female protagonist - I'd have called you a right plonker.

But I did ship it. It wasn't a 'OMG I AM GOING TO DIE' kind of ship, but it felt hella real. I genuinely think that young girls everywhere would benefit if more YA ships were like this one.

Their first meeting isn't anything special, it is in fact the opposite. Their next few conversations are bumbling and awkward. But they are always honest with each other, which is obviously important. And then they sleep together and it's kind of magical because it's NOT magical. It's full of fumbling and confusion and embarrassment on Maggie's part. And that's what sex is, especially the first time.

Seriously - give this book to every young teen in the world. Not just the girls either.

Maggie and Jeff (and kind of Lauren)

The reason I enjoyed this relationship so much was because it taught Maggie to get over her prejudice. Now, it doesn't reflect exactly on the real world because Jeff is a vampire and they don't- actually - exist. However, learning not to judge because of supernatural species can also be applied to learning not to judge due to class/race etc.

There's a really cool message in this book. It's basically that anybody can be awesome if you give them the change.

Quick note to add as well. We have one gay and one lesbian couple within the text. Neither pairings are featured prominently, which is a shame, but they are also treated as any other couples would be.

Overall, this isn't the best book in the world. But if you want a quick, fun, feminist read - pick this one!

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