Monday, April 28, 2008

Oh My Goth by Gena Showalter

A fiercely individualist Goth girl wakes up to discover that the whole world has gone Goth and she's actually -- gag -- popular.

Jade Leigh is a nonconformist who values individuality above all else. She has a small group of like-minded Goth friends who wear black, dabble in the dark arts, and thrive outside the norm. They're considered the "freaks" of their high school. But when Jade's smart mouth lands her in trouble -- again -- her principal decides to teach her a lesson she'll never forget.

Taken to a remote location where she is strapped down and sedated, Jade wakes up in an alternate universe where she rules the school. But her best friends won't talk to her, and the people she used to hate are all Goth. Only Clarik, the mysterious new boy in town, operates outside all the cliques. And only Mercedes, the Barbie clone Jade loathes, believes that Jade's stuck in a virtual reality game -- because she's stuck there, too, now living the life of a "freak." Together, they realize they might never get back to reality...and that even if they do, things might never be the same.

Grade: D- // Eh...

I'm so surprised that I'm writing a negative review of this book. When I first got Oh My Goth, I thought it'd be one of those books that I'd recommend to all my friends. The premise was great! I mean--here's to showing everyone is human on the inside and labels/appearances should not be the defining factor of a person or their worth.

And then...

Well, first off, we get this huge contradiction right at the opening. Each chapter is prefaced with a blurb from Jade's private journal--here's the first one:

When people look at me, they automatically assume I'm dark and weird. Why can't they see the truth? I'm just a girl, trying to find my place in the world.

I thought, Okay, we're off to a great start. This character has strong likeable potential. But then the narrative began. Three paragraphs down the first page and we've got:

Honestly, I'd rather be anywhere else. Even home, where my dad begins almost every conversation with, "You should lose the black clothes and wear something with color." Puh-lease. Like I want to look like every Barbie clone in Hell High, a.k.a. Oklahoma's insignificant Haloway High School. Ironically, Dad doesn't appreciate the bright blue streaks in my originally blond/now-dyed-black hair. Go figure. That's color, right?

So, Jade complains about being judged based on her appearance, but here she is doing the exact same thing. Is it any wonder people think that about her?

(Steph stands vaguely skeptical...)

The book went on. Some passages were funny in a teen-angsty way. Others were bland. But mostly, my thoughts went elsewhere while I was reading. By the last page, I didn't care what Jade did, what the book's message was, or even how it ended. I won't say I was happy that it ended. I wasn't. I wanted to like this book. But I didn't and here's why:

Jade was impenetrable. I couldn't figure her out or relate to her at all. In fact, I thought she was highly superficial, which is not something I want from any character, especially one I'm reading about in a first-person narrative. I'll even go so far as to say this book was superficial. It meandered along the surface, never really digging deep enough for me to get any substance. Some passages were unbelievably contrived, like the ones describing all the types of goths there are and how they dress, like it's one big institution. Is this what this girl considers being a noncomformist? Comforming to the "norms" or noncomformity???

Which brings me to my next point. Jade "expresses her individuality" because her mother, at the exact moment before crashing with another car and dying from the collision, told her to always be herself, no matter what. And now Jade thinks she has to be unlike everyone else to be herself. Someone please tell this girl that dressing differently doesn't make you original.

Overall, didn't like the main character; thought the book's message was botched; didn't care much about about anything that happened. I had hoped this book would've gone to say something about how a person's essence is more important than their outer shell. It didn't. It focused exactly on the opposite, which makes it pointless.

Note: A friend who didn't like this book (and had the same complaints as me) said Gena Showalter is a good author. So, if you really wanna check something out by her, get one of her other books.


Nurin said...

That book really did suck lol.

It sounded great but it just didn't live up to my standards =/ it was a huge letdown

Anonymous said...

I stand in full agreement. I was exceptionally irritated by the subliminal stereotyping through the whole novel. Oy. I am so happy someone agrees with me.


Amee said...

I hate to say it but I'm removing this book from my wishlist. Like you I am thinking the message must be great, but from what you said, it doesn't sound like it delivers.

I know writing bad reviews sucks, but at least you gave your reasons instead of just saying it sucked/was stupid or ripping into the author. So I still want to say, great review! ;)

Khy said...

I'm removing it from my wishlist too. It looked interesting, (and I like saying the title.) but from your review, it looks like it would not be worth reading.

And from the little snippets you posted, I can tell that I would probably not like the main character at all.

Steph said...

Hey everybody :) Thanks for the comments. I hope I did help someone out :P


Lenore Appelhans said...

I really like your writing style - very entertaining AND informative. I am putting your blog on my favorites :)

Chelsea said...

I have this on my bookshelf. Guess I'll be waiting a while before I read it! :)

Steph said...

Lenore -- thank you!! That's always nice to know! :D

Chelsea -- hehe, I read this book the day I got it. You wouldn't believe how just disbelieving I was. >.<


Ms. Yingling said...

Thanks for the review. I didn't want to read this, and now I think I can pass. My big pet peeve-- Goths are not nonconformists!!!!! They are just conforming to a different group. Why does no one get this? If you want to be different, score some double knit polyester dresses from the thrift store!

Steph said...

HAHAHAHA that's hilarious! Though I completely agree :P


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