Book Review – Solitaire by Alice Oseman

books, reviews

Rating: 2 out of 5.

Am I the only one who didn’t know that Spotify had audiobooks? It’s a revelation. I stumbled upon this book the other day and I obviously thought it was something sketchy. I have since discovered that it’s a thing. I’m not sure how many there are on the platform but I intend to find out. Especially now I’ve paused my Audible account. If I get access to some audiobooks for free then why not listen to them. Even if I had no intention of reading them.

It’s no secret that I’m not a lover of YA fiction and I never really have been. Even when I was a YA, I don’t think I really gravitated toward those books. The characters never really represented my life or my experiences, so I never bothered with them. This is why I came to Catcher in the Rye later in my life. This, in turn, is the reason why I’m not a huge fan of Catcher in the Rye. You need to read it when you’re a teenager with a teenager’s sensibilities.

I think the same could be said about Solitaire. The book is dealing with complex mental health issues and that should be applauded. However, the way those issues are addressed feels problematic. Mostly because everything is so vague and undefined. She feels like a caricature of a moody teen instead of a young woman battling her inner demons. There’s a lack of nuance in our narrator. I know that mental health is a complex issue but this book just seemed a bit too superficial for such an important issue.

Instead of being a sympathetic character that readers could relate to, the narrator just seems like every other moody teen. Tori Spring is studying for her A-Levels and finding life difficult. Her friends are all moving on and she isn’t interested in keeping up with them. Her whole life starts to change when she meets Michael Holden, a mysterious boy in her year at school. It also happens to be the day that Solitaire first appears. Solitaire is a person or group who seems intent on causing trouble. But why do all of their blog posts have a connection to Tori?

In terms of plot, the identity of Solitaire is a non-starter because it’s so obvious who it is. There’s no mystery so you just have to sit and wait for Tori to catch up with you. It also takes a really long time to get anywhere. The story was kind of dull and repetitive. Tori spent so much of her time looking for Michael then hiding from Michael and then looking for him again. Ultimately, there’s not a lot of plot, which would be fine had there been more character development. However, that doesn’t really happen either.

The writing of the book wasn’t my favourite and I found much of the dialogue to be a bit awkward. The way Tori speaks didn’t necessarily seem natural to me but I guess that could be an age thing. This whole book just seemed so juvenile and melodramatic. Now I know that when you’re a teenager everything seems majorly important. Every tiny issue seems like the end of the world. However, I do feel that certain elements were so hyperbolic and over-the-top. Personally, the final scene seems to belong to another book. For me, everything about Solitaire is a little immature and messy.

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