Sunday, October 23, 2011

Review: Shut Out by Kody Keplinger


Shut Out
by Kody Keplinger

Pages: 273
Publisher: Poppy
Published: September 5th, 2011
IBSN: 9780316175562

Most high school sports teams have rivalries with other schools. At Hamilton High, it's a civil war: the football team versus the soccer team. And for her part,Lissa is sick of it. Her quarterback boyfriend, Randy, is always ditching her to go pick a fight with the soccer team or to prank their locker room. And on three separate occasions Randy's car has been egged while he and Lissa were inside, making out. She is done competing with a bunch of sweaty boys for her own boyfriend's attention.
Then Lissa decides to end the rivalry once and for all: She and the other players' girlfriends go on a hookup strike. The boys won't get any action from them until the football and soccer teams make peace. What they don't count on is a new sort of rivalry: an impossible girls-against-boys showdown that hinges on who will cave to their libidos first. But what Lissa never sees coming is her own sexual tension with the leader of the boys, Cash Sterling...

The girlfriends of the football players at Hamilton High are fed up with the soccer-football rivalry distracting their boyfriends, so they go on a sex strike. What starts out as a manipulative plan only declines further after Lissa's boyfriend cheats on her and the motivation behind the strike seems less and less influenced by the rivalry.

With subject matter so sketchy (I don't mean the sex. I love when books that don't shyly tiptoe around it, even if this one seemed to be shouting it repeatedly), I can say I only decided to pick up Shut Out because I figured it would be like her first book, The DUFF, in that some things annoyed the hell out of me but I still really enjoyed it. I figured mostly right. I enjoyed reading it, but didn't like it. (Is that possible?)

Much of the feminist themes come through like the author preaching. Kody Keplinger is quite vocal on her blog about gender double-standards, and it really shows in Shut Out. Plus, I couldn't take female characters trying to combat misogyny seriously when so much of their dialogue is rife with misandry. For example, Lissa and her friends complain that she's called a 'tease' for being a virgin, but they call Cash a tease right back. It isn't okay to empower women by putting down men.

I couldn't say I liked Lissa. I never fully understood her character. The sex strike was her idea, and that didn't make much sense after the twist around halfway through. Her anal-retentiveness never felt natural, but awkward. It just felt like something carelessly thrown in to take her development further.

Shut Out is fans of Kody's first book, The DUFF, provided they don't mind being preached at. It has the same fun, breezy tone, but it's a lot heavier on the feminism.

I give Shut Out a 2 out of 5.