Monday, April 28, 2014

ARC Book Review: Life By Committee by Corey Ann Haydu

Title: Life By Committee
Author: Corey Ann Haydu
Publisher: Katherine Tegan Books
Release Date: May 13th, 2014
Rating: 3/5

Cover Impressions: 
Cute, I like that the image connects so well with the pictures that members of the Life By Committee website post.  The blue of the font is a nice contrast but I wish the shoes were another character - they blend a little too well with the background color.

The Gist:
Tabitha kissed another girl's boyfriend.  The secret is eating her up inside.  She can't tell anyone who knows her but she can tell the Life by Committee - a website dedicated to those who have secrets to tell.  As a member, she must share a secret and then receive an assignment.  At first, having the LBC make her decisions for her is freeing and she is doing things she never thought she would.  Soon, however, the assignments take a dark turn and Tabitha must decide if keeping her secrets is worth the fallout that the assignments will bring.


I chose this book for review because I was really interested in the premise.  I have to say, I was a little disappointed that (after searching) there was no Life By Committee website - holy missed marketing opportunity Batman!

One of the downfalls of this novel came in the form of the main character.  Tabitha was really difficult to relate to.  I could understand her being swept up in the forbidden romance of her flirtations with Joe.  Chatting well into the night, trading secrets has a secret allure that makes it exciting.  However, it was her actions with regard to her family and her friend Elise that made her rather unlikeable.  It is understandable that she be shell shocked, having been abruptly ditched by the people she thought where her friends but, throughout the novel, she comes across as whiny and self centered.  She doesn't seem to understand her role in her situation and makes decisions that negatively impact her family and friends.

I found the other characters and, in particular, Tabitha's school, rather weird.  As a teacher, I always find it rather difficult to believe that crunchy granola, feeling circle, kind of schools actually exist.  There are several instances where the actions of the teachers and the school in general are really unrealistic and prevented me from staying absorbed in the plot.  I was immensely annoyed with the actions of the guidance counselor, and the things that she was saying made me question the honesty of Tabitha as a narrator.  I also had a hard time with the portrayal of the other students.  Even in a very progressive, new agey school, I am not sure that Sasha could have gotten away with some of the stuff she pulled.

There was a great deal of slut shaming and, though Tabitha was on the receiving end and it was completely undeserved, I am not sure the lesson was made clear that this is NOT how to treat a person.  Despite having been ditched by her friends for suddenly growing boobs, Tabitha still wants them back and is willing to put up with their abuse rather than stand up for herself.  There is also a rather creepy character who touches girls without their permission and never gets any comeuppance - this bothered me.          

As the plot goes on, the things that the LBC group are asked to do get more and more outlandish. Zed starts to come across as more and more pretentious

ZED: it's a moral obligation to have us ALL live our best lives.  There's doing the right thing and there's doing the best thing.  They're not always the same thing.  The best thing is a challenge, the right thing is often a submission.

 I felt like he was some asshole pulling the strings of all these gullible young people, laughing as they took on his outlandish dares and never took any risks himself.  At one point, when one of the other members is revealed, it takes on the feel of a cult mentality - the character is unable to decide on any actions on her own and must check with Zed first.  This all led to a rather lackluster ending.  It was a little to Mean Girls, a little too unbelievable and didn't provide the big reveal didn't provide the shock value that I think it intended.  

Not sure if I will check back in on this author, guess it depends on the premise of the next story and whether or not I can expect the same level of slut shaming.

Teaching/Parental Notes:

15 and up
Sex: Kissing
Violence: None
Inappropriate Language: Fuck, Whore, Shit, Bitch, Slut, Piss, Dick
Substance Use/Abuse: Marijuana Use


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