Saturday, May 5, 2012
Book Review: The Disenchantments by Nina LaCour
I don't often read contemporary YA, but I had to make an exception here. Firstly, because this book came highly recommended by a friend whose opinion I value. And secondly (Okay, firstly), the cover and title are awesome. And guess what? This book was awesome. Not just a great contemporary YA, but among the best YA of any genre that I've read in a long time. So I take this as direct evidence that I should continue to judge books by their covers and be otherwise very shallow. YAY!
The blurb of The Disenchantments by Nina LaCour, from Goodreads:
Colby and Bev have a long-standing pact: graduate, hit the road with Bev's band, and then spend the year wandering around Europe. But moments after the tour kicks off, Bev makes a shocking announcement: she's abandoning their plans - and Colby - to start college in the fall.
But the show must go on and The Disenchantments weave through the Pacific Northwest, playing in small towns and dingy venues, while roadie- Colby struggles to deal with Bev's already-growing distance and the most important question of all: what's next?
Morris Award–finalist Nina LaCour draws together the beauty and influences of music and art to brilliantly capture a group of friends on the brink of the rest of their lives.
The Disenchantments is told from the perspective of Colby, brand new high school graduate cum roadie in an all girls band. Now I've read more than a few male-led YA novels and, to be honest, have had trouble connecting with the main characters. Don't ask me why, because I don't know exactly. And who cares, because that wasn't the case with this book. It was impossible to not connect with Colby. He was refreshingly complex, authentic, and engaging, and LaCour's brilliant writing made the intensity of the emotion in what I view as a coming-of-age novel really come to life. And holy eff were there emotions!
Not only has Colby just finished high school, which is overwhelming and scary in and of itself, but he is suddenly faced with the news that his best friend has been lying to him for years, has screwed him over royally, that in spite of this he's in love with her, that she doesn't love him back, and that life doesn't always turn out the way we've planned. And it was all so effing heartbreaking, and raw, and real that I just wished I could jump inside the book and hug Colby. Or else have a pity make out session with him. Or slap that Bev for doing all the hurtful things she'd done to him (Except that Bev's flaws were part of the charm of the book--she's imperfect, and Colby loves her anyway, which is endearing as well as true to life).
Anyone who's ever felt the horribleness of unrequited love will completely get this book. But that shouldn't make readers shy away from reading it. Because there's much more to this book than heartbreak. LaCour perfectly blends the fun and adventure of a road trip with the sadness of things coming to an end with the hope of new beginnings. How she did it, I've yet to discover. I may have to read more of her books to find out.
Other things I loved about this book:
-This book is so hip it made me want to dye my hair pink, get another tattoo, go on a road trip in a VW bus, graffiti a building, watch obscure French films, and listen to Sleater-Kinney.
-Jasper. He's not a main character by a long shot (in fact, he's maybe in 5 pages total of the book), yet somehow LaCour managed to make him so real that I burst into happy tears when a certain something happens in the book involving him which I shan't discuss further.
-A certain basement scene that made me laugh out loud
-The fact that Bev is bisexual, and it's not a big deal in the book, and Colby's friends Alexa and Meg have gay dads, and that isn't a big deal either.
-And...you know what? Just read it. I could go on forever here.