Thursday, September 26, 2013

Review: September Girls - Bennett Madison

Where I got it: My collection
Rating: 3.5 stars  
Cover Rating: 5 stars (So pretty.)
Genre: Young Adult
Publication Date: May 21, 2013
Publisher: HarperTeen
Page Count: 352 p.
Add it: Goodreads

Sam's mother has left and so his dad decides to take them away for the summer to some remote beach. Sam doesn't mind being able to step away for awhile, but something is strange about this beach. There are girls everywhere and they are all looking at him. They also all look eerily similar. That's when Sam meets Deedee. He is fascinated by her and wants to really get to know her. Deedee doesn't seem to want to let him get that close though and Sam isn't sure what he's done to push her away. If Sam doesn't figure out what's so special about the Girls and this beach he might lose her forever.

First, let me address the big controversy surrounding this book. Sexism. I can see how some people might think this book is sexist, there is talk about women's bodies in a sexual way. Is that sexist? I don't think it is. If you changed the gender of everyone in here the story would still make sense, the characters would still be highly sexualized, but I doubt that people would get up in arms about it being sexist. Sam and his brother and silly Sebastian think about sex, a lot. They are sort of pigs the way they talk (mostly Jeff). I don't think that their, at least Jeff and Sam's, actions follow through with this. Really it's a case of Jeff trying to hard to be a Dude's Dude. He's just trying to act out what his idea of macho is and it sucks. There is lot's of talk about dicks in this book too. That's because guys have them and when they are aroused, their dicks make a big deal about it. That's how you can tell this novel was written by a guy is the fact that the boys in this novel have dicks (not that women authors don't write about men bits, but...). They're important. The other part of the sexism is that Sam's always remarking about the Girl's features. OF COURSE HE IS, THEY'RE MAGIC! Would you consider a sailor being lured by a Siren a novel about sexism? No (well, maybe, who knows what you're thinking). They are magic and otherworldly. Of course he's going to talk about how they look, because it changes and he's drawn to them and they are drawn to him. I also would like to mention without spoiling anything that there is only one reason that the Girls have any interest in Sam to begin with so... If anything I felt like this novel was supporting women and all their glorious beauty. A lot of girls try really hard to make themselves look like something they aren't and this touches on that. Sam didn't care about how hot all of them were, he wanted to get to know one of them.

Now on to the rest of the book. I enjoyed it. One of my favorite things were all the Little Mermaid references. It was positively delightful to come across one. I really enjoy mermaid tales which I didn't really know this was one until I started reading. Really, the only thing I knew about this book is that I thoroughly love that cover. Oh, and Ransom Riggs talked about it in a Tea Time with EpicReads. It was an interesting story and I enjoyed how it unfolded.

Some of the characters could have used some more development. I feel like this book was all about Sam and everyone else was hazy in the periphery. I have a hard time enjoying characters that are only in the book very briefly. I felt like Sebastian was kind of a non-character and was only an anchor for Sam to tie himself back to his old life. Sam's mom and also could have been developed more. It's always hard in a young adult novel to get a better grasp of the people around the main character. You're seeing things from Sam's skewed perspective and a kid doesn't usually know much about the inner-workings of his parent's minds. I understand this, but I still wished we could've known more about them. I feel like at the very least we could have had a better view of who Jeff really was. He wasn't a mystery to Sam and we could have seen him developed more so that the change in his personality would have mattered significantly more.

I liked the Girls chapters a lot and would have been happy with a book told completely from their perspective like that. It gives the story a haunting, surreal feeling. I liked the legend part most of all so more of it would not have been a bad thing.

If you enjoy watching a character find themselves and grow throughout a novel and having a bit of mermaid lore woven into the story, check this book out.

First Line:
"The summer following the winter that my mother took off into something called Women's Land for what I could only guess would be all eternity, my father decided that there was no choice but for him to quit his despised job and take me and my brother to the beach for at least the entire summer and possibly longer."

Favorite Line:
"Their hair was twirling around their bodies in twisty, jumping crowns of brilliant neon."

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