Sunday, November 20, 2011

He's So Not Worth It by Kieran Scott

Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers

Source: Library


I read Kieran Scott’s He’s So Not Worth It because I had already started the She’s So/He’s So series. See my review for the first one, She’s So Dead to Us here. This was the one that I had actually wanted to read initially after finding it on the library's new young adult shelf. Thankfully my sister stopped me and informed me that it was part of a series before I cracked it.
He’s So Not Worth It continues the stories of Ally, Jake, and the rest of the Cresties and Norms introduced in the first volume. It picks up exactly where the previous novel left off, with Ally seeing her estranged father for the first time in several years after being publicly humiliated at Shannen Moore’s birthday party. The book explains the ensuing summer, once again splitting a first person point of view between the main characters, Ally and Jake. Ally spends her summer running away from her problems (namely the above estranged father and former almost-boyfriend Jake) down the shore, whereas Jake is being forced to remain in North Jersey, studying for the SATs, taking a college course, and maintaining a job under the management of Ally’s father at the local coffee shop. Ally begins hanging out with the locals shore kids, drinking and hooking up with a monster tool named Cooper (should I be slightly less intense about my distaste for him? Because as soon as he was introduced I didn’t like him. And it’s not like I’m so invested in Ally and Jake’s relationship that I couldn’t see her with anyone else, this guy was just that much of a tool). Jake takes on these new responsibilities with a lackluster attitude and little success until he decides to let go of Ally a bit and instead starts hanging out with fellow Crestie Chloe. He enrolls in the college-level course with her, as she too is attempting to avoid her problems.
Kieran Scott continues her tradition of thoroughly entertaining serial realistic fiction. While the story suffers slightly from what I call Beverly Hills 90210 syndrome—meaning the couples kind of shuffle around and incestuously date one another within a group—it does not harm the plot in any way. The mixing up of the couples isn’t entirely obvious, considering it seems that most of the characters seem to fall in love with, date, or hook up with the two main characters. It's a low level example of the syndrome, though I'd like to know exactly what is so magical about the two of them.
One of Scott’s strengths that I’ve noticed throughout the course of this series is her development of the faults and mistakes her characters make. They are always believably created and explored. Ally doesn’t just snap and start partying all the time and fighting with her mother, she gradually builds up frustration with her life that leads to her screw-it-all attitude and tendency to do things that only lead her to regret later. Jake does sit by and wait patiently for a girl who seems to have totally moved on—he eventually gives in to the temptation of hooking up with an available and gorgeous girl. It’s such a teenage boy thing to do. I was happy that Scott allowed her characters to screw up rather than make them be perfect martyrs that sat idly back and allowed everything in their life to happen as it did. That would certainly be boring.
Another good part of these books is that Scott allows other characters, like Shannen and Chloe, to lose their shit and still come back from going off the deep end. In the Private series (Scott’s prep school series under the pen name Kate Brian), the people that go crazy are usually legitimately crazy and a threat to the safety of those around them. This is not the case in these novels. These girls act out in different ways, for instance, going way too far in order to embarrass someone.  People just go crazy sometimes and can come back totally normal once it has gotten out of their system. The characters manage to see the light of what they are doing and dial it back, recognizing what they’ve done and trying to repent for some of their actions. They aren’t evil, just momentarily crazy. And really, high school is made up of the collection of these crazy people moments. Scott certainly has that part right.
For the series part, I thought Scott created a good cliffhanger that wasn’t entirely over the top (I’m looking at the season finales of One Tree Hill over there), but dramatic enough to once again regret reading books in a series before all of them were out.
Scott continued her She’s So/He’s So series along the same realistic, not over-the-top way she started it in She’s So Dead to Us. Ally’s and Jake’s second installment of stories was not spent pining for each other (thankfully), rather trying new things, both good and bad. Jake, for instance tried studying hard for the first time in school and working a job for the first time in his life. Ally attempted to run away from her problems with douchey boys and alcohol, which, while not the best thing for her, was something she had to do in order to see how she should deal with the problems in her life, be it her defunct relationship with Jake or the feelings of abandonment she has from her father’s departure in the years prior. A good second book in a series. I hope that Scott continues in this vein and creates a satisfying conclusion to the series with This is So Not Happening, due out in May of 2012.

Rating: 4 – good.

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