Saturday, 1 January 2011

You Against Me by Jenny Downham

December 2010, David Fickling Books 
416 pages, Hardback
Review copy 

Young Adult

Some violence, detailed scenes of relationships between teenagers (including before/after info of rape), some drinking, occasional strong language, being bullied at school, having a job, friendships tested, family bonds strengthened and broken, taking sides, going to court, fear, guilt, shame, 

If someone hurts your sister and you’re any kind of man, you seek revenge, right?

If your brother’s accused of a terrible crime but says he didn’t do it, you defend him, don’t you?

When Mikey’s sister claims a boy assaulted her, his world begins to fall apart.

When Ellie’s brother is charged with the offence, her world begins to unravel.

When Mikey and Ellie meet, two worlds collide.

This is a brave and unflinching novel from the bestselling author of Before I Die. It’s a book about loyalty and the choices that come with it. But above all it’s a book about love.

Nayuleska's thoughts
You know I'm always honest in my reviews, so here I go. Until 3/4 through this book I wasn't that keen on it. I was intrigued because it dealt with the issue of rape. The story looks at it from Mikey's view, and from Ellie's. I understood why Mikey wanted to protect his sister, and to beat up Tom, but he was thinking and acting irrationally. Trying to find out more info about Tom would only ever land him in trouble (it does a little). It doesn't achieve anything. I didn't like who he was (he might not have raped anyone but he uses girls). I liked his sisters, and I did then he took care of them while their mother was an alcoholic. I was happy when their lives finally turned around at the end of the book. 

I didn't like Ellie much either. I mean, she was a good girl, but then she went off the rails. She tries drugs (idiot). She barely knows Mikey. Then, when she finds out who he is she decides to keep going and their relationship gets pretty deep. 

Basically I had zilch in common with both of them. I couldn't really relate to them. And I nearly peeked at the end (I didn't! The point is that I didn't) 

Just as I was really despairing the book, something happened and I liked it. I liked it because Ellie began to remember what really happened. She'd worked so hard to block everything out, but the truth was eating away at her. She had to speak. Strange how I loved the book after that moment! I felt so sorry for her, having to have lived with her brother all that time, wondering if he would do the same to her (or someone else). Her father treats her so poorly, and almost tries to bribe her. At one point I thought he might beat her up (sounds a bit silly, but I really thought he would). Mikey gets worried about her because of her silence - he was right to be worried but things worked out in the end. It was extremely emotional when Ellie had to tell the truth - I wanted to cry because her mother, who had seemed pretty weak was strong just for her. 

Both families turned their lives around by the end. Although I think the end is the major point I wasn't keen on.  As a reader, I have no idea what happened at court. It ends before all the court proceedings are over (or have even taken place). I really want to know whether Tom got what he deserved. I don't read primarily for the romance elements, and it just felt flat at the end. Having a nice walk is one thing, but it left me glaring at the book for ending like that. 

Content wise...having read Jenny's other book, and knowing the theme of the book, I expected it to be fairly detailed on the relationship side of things. It was, and there were a few areas I felt there was too much detail. I was surprised the swearing was quite low, I thought it would be higher with Mikey.

All in all, I think this is a mixed review. Once more was revealed I really liked it, and would re-read it bearing in mind the knowledge I now have. On the other hand, it's not great that it took best part of 300 pages for me to really like it. 

Final conclusion 
Quite a story that will have you reeling for a few days from the emotional impact. 

Be sure to check out Jenny's other book, Before I Die

Suggested read: a book which deals with the issue of rape really well (and is currently one of my favourite books) is The Mockingbirds by Daisy Whitney 


kirsty at the overflowing library said...

i can't wait to read this!!

Nayuleska said...

Hope you enjoy it :)

Lyndsey said...

I loved this book. I also read Before I Die last night and I think it must be the saddest thing Ive ever read.

Clover said...

Oh what a shame that you didn't absolutely love it like I did. But am glad at least that things turned around so that you can enjoy it in the end, I suppose.

Nayuleska said...

Since being a book reviewer, I'm finding that one of the amazing things is how some of us love a book, and some of us don't. Before I reviewed books, I only knew my own thoughts because virtually none of my friends read the same books as me.