📚All of the Above by James Dawson.
⚪️Source: review copy courtesy of HotKey Books – thanks guys!
⚪️Blurb: When sixteen-year-old Toria Bland arrives at her new school she needs to work out who her friends are in a crazy whirl of worry, exam pressure and anxiety over fitting in. Things start looking up when Toria meets the funny and foul-mouthed Polly, who’s the coolest girl that Toria has ever seen. Polly and the rest of the ‘alternative’ kids take Toria under their wing. And that’s when she meets the irresistible Nico Mancini, lead singer of a local band – and it’s instalove at first sight! Toria likes Nico, Nico likes Toria, but then there’s Polly… love and friendship have a funny way of going round in circles.
⚪️My review: So this is not what I was expecting at all. James Dawson has done a complete 360 tail-spin and shot off down the motorway on the wrong side of the road. Honestly, no lie, he has. AOTA is his passenger, she’s a quirky little number with a lot of attitude and totally refuses to wear her seatbelt. She’s on fire and totally up-to-date with everything from social status to sexuality to friendship to eating disorders to prison cells to instalove. She’s got it all going on.
We read from the pen of sixteen/seventeen year old, Victoria ‘Toria’ Grand as she jots down the past of her roller-coater year in her new life in the run down and pretty ugly Brompton-on-Sea. We nervously do all the first times with her. We go to a new school with her, we nervously make new friends with her, we nervously do everything with her, and yes I mean “EVERYTHING!” Toria was not my favourite character in the book, I did find her very very very self obsessed and at times I wanted to reach inside the pages and strangle her for it. Whether this was intentional and clever writing by the author I do not know.
Character wise though you are submitted into a cool and totally astounding group of people. All seriously working hard to get the best life possible, all completely different, all totally loyal, and all obsessed with crazy golf. There warmth and friendship lifts you high and you really do have the absolute best of time with them all. Whether it’s watching horror movies, or drinking cheap fizzy wine while being watched by the disapproving seal, or watching Geoff the Cross-Dressing squirrel fight for his child, even to just sitting around chatting in the sixth form common room at Brompton Cliffs Academy.
The plot is deep and diverse. It’s here where author James Dawson has seriously left his tyre marks. It’s completely up-to-date like I’ve previously mentioned, and it is kind of like that feeling you get in your stomach when your intuition kicks in and you know something’s not quite right. No, it’s like when your swimming and you slip for a second and choke under the water and think ‘shit, I’m so gonna die.’ That is how the plot is. It takes you under and smothers you with details and drama and sacrifice and the complete and utter understanding of how hard, questioning and ridiculous life can be. It is a teenagers best friend and also a teenagers nightmare. It’s emotional and tense and heartbreaking and adorable.
Whilst reading through AOTA, I was impressed and totally over the moon that I was allowed to add in my ow swear words. Now, I know it was pretty obvious at times what swear words it was, but I put my own in anyway. It was amazing. I totally love a good swear word and because of this I fell head over heels in love with heroine Tori’s ultimate newbie best pal Polly. She’s kick-ass hardcore with a mouth of ultimate sarcastic swearing and I want to be her.
I thoroughly enjoyed AOTA and I can’t praise James Dawson enough for daring to do something different and something that actually did need to be done. AOTA will most definitely help people understand themselves as they relate to the characters and it will allow people to see the other side of circumstances and issues that they usually wouldn’t have a clue about. And, it will also open the eyes of some who are careless with their words and don’t think about what those words can actually do to a person. It’s book that will inspire people to be themselves and that to me is such a wonderful thing.
Publisher: Hot Key Books
Publication date: 3 Sep 2015
Book length: 336