Monday, February 14, 2011

Review of You Against Me by Jenny Downham

Happy Valentine's Day, blogoverse! I don't have any plans - romantic or otherwise - for today, but I thought the least I could do for the occasion was pick a romantic book off my TBR list to read. I picked You Against Me by Jenny Downham, and here's my review:

You Against Me by Jenny Downham

Pages: 416
Publisher: David Fickling Books
Published: December 2nd, 2010
IBSN: 9780385613507

If someone hurts your sister and you're any kind of man, you seek revenge, right?

 If your brother's been accused of a terrible crime and you're the main witness, then you banish all doubt and defend him. Isn't that what families do?

When Mikey's sister claims a boy assaulted her at a party, his world of work and girls begins to fall apart. When Ellie's brother is charged with the crime, but says he didn't do it, her world of revision, exams and fitting in at a new school begins to unravel. When Mikey and Ellie meet, two worlds collide. Brave and unflinching, this is a novel of extraordinary skillfulness and almost unbearable tension. It's a book about loyalty and the choices that come with it. But above all it's a book about love - for one's family and for another.

[Synopsis by Goodreads]

You Against Me comes from the perspectives of Mikey and Ellie, brother of a rape victim and sister of the rapist respectively. It doesn't seem likely that the two of them could ever like each other, let alone like like each other, but it happens. It's a twist on the classic trope of guy-using-girl-for-some-ulterior-motive-but-then-actually-falling-in-love-with-her.

Jenny Downham's writing style is fluid and beautiful, so easy to read. I haven't read Before I Die, but I definitely plan to after this one. In You Against Me, like she does in Before I Die (so I hear), Downham tackles big issues unflinchingly. She doesn't shy away from the theme of rape, and makes for a thought-provoking and emotional read.

Ellie and Mikey are both dynamic and likable characters. They both have faults  - that make them feel real - and hardships - Mikey's has the responsibility of taking care of his family singlehandedly, and Ellie has to choose whether to testify against her brother or not. I found myself genuinely caring about the characters.

Their relationship didn't feel rushed, even though they'd only known each other for around two months by the end of the book. Mikey and Ellie had a lot of chemistry, and looked forward to every scene where they were together.

I didn't find the ending entirely satisfying. It feels like I never finished reading it - there wasn't a conclusion to what I considered the main plot.

I give You Against Me a 4 out of 5.