Showing posts with label alice oseman. Show all posts
Showing posts with label alice oseman. Show all posts

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Do We Need Books About Mental Illness By Neurotypical People? | YA Talk


Mental illness is a topic that I've only recently started getting very interested in. Sadly, the books I've encountered that deal with OCD, depression, anorexia, bipolar disorder, and many more, are just not realistic. 


Raising Awareness: Why I think it's important

In everyday life there is no way you'll just stumble upon the different kinds of mental illness, unless you meet somebody who actually has it.

If it weren't for the internet, I had no idea social anxiety was a thing. And there aren't even only a few people that live with it. Same goes for many other mental illnesses - you just don't run into people randomly that care to inform you about it. I understand that no one wants to talk about a personal matter like that in real life. This is why I think books on those topics are insanely important.

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But here's the twist. I don't think I can endure any more poorly researched novels, else my head will probably explode. I recently tried FINDING AUDREY by Sophie Kinella, I tried SOLITAIRE by Alice Oseman. Two books that are very popular and praised for dealing with sensitive topics. I don't want to make any guesses on whether those books are inspired by experiences of the authors or not - but I can tell you, both of them are pretty poor excuses for diverse books.


What really bugs me here: Being Allergic to Research

The two books I mentioned play into all the clichés you have in mind when thinking about social anxiety and depression. 
The characters are cliché, the plot development unrealistic, and romanticized. It just doesn't feel like you're reading a novel about a sick person. I mean that's what mental illnesses are, ILLNESSES. It's not fun, it's not quirky, it's an actual illness that limits peoples' lives. I want to learn about it, because I think it's important to raise awareness that these things do exists. But books like these aren't helping us. They are making things WORSE.

What good does a book that deals with a controversial topic, but just fuels stereotypes? 

We simply don't need it. I want books that show the ugly sides of mental illness. I want books that even just show both sides, it just doesn't have to be all sad and depressing. I'm just tired of reading about characters who are completely over the top, or miraculously cured when a cute love interest enters their lives. 

So please, non-neurotypical authors, help us out. I'm craving realistic portrayal


Do you think we need more books based on experience with mental illness?



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Saturday, August 22, 2015

[Review] Solitaire - Alice Oseman


For 16-year-old Tori, school is just an annoying necessity. She doesn't have a lot of friends, and she doesn't really care about anything.

When teenage anarchist bloggers under the pseudonym Solitaire start terrorizing her school and a new guy called Michael Holden appears in her life, she is forced to leabe her comfort zone and start acting.


Diversity: How not to do it

I'm not surprised that this is yet another inaccurate representation of mental illness. I'm yet to find a novel that doesn't make my toes curl. 16-year-old teenager Tori is probably the first cliché character that comes to your mind when thinking about depression. 

She's apathetic, she has no interest in anything, and she thinks the world revolves around her. The thing about mental illness is that it affects people differently. Oseman chose the most common portrayal of depression and wrote a novel that's very representative of that.

Not everyone is like Tori, not everyone shows clear symptoms, and to me this is one of the many mistakes this novel makes. There are a lot of diverse characters, gays, bisexuals, anorexics - and every single one of them is a walking cliché. I like that Oseman tried to incorporate diversity, but it just isn't realistic to make every character struggling with an illness or being super eccentric. It just feels like you're reading a bad fan fiction about characters with purple-hair, oddly colored eyes, and weird names. Coincidentally, you can find all of this in "Solitaire".

Very unlikable protagonist ruins the story

Oseman really hits the nail on the head in terms of character voice. Tori's voice and Oseman's writing are a nice match, so you really get how Tori feels, from her apathy to her disconnection from the world. However, I found this incredibly exhausting. There is no way to like Tori as a character. Maybe it's the whole point of her character to be a blank sheet and full of self-centered thoughts and to be living in her own little world where all she matters is her; but really, it's not fun to read about a character like that. You can have the best plot in the world, but it will be exhausting and boring if you narrate it in such an annoying, condescending character voice.

The writing style is very unique, and features a lot of short sentences and information dumps that are absolutely unnecessary. Whenever a new character is introduced, you can prepare for about three pages of backstory of a random memory Tori has of that character. What kept me reading were probably only the pop culture references. I love a novel that addresses the quirks of the 2010s, and the nods to tumblr and blogging here and there were pretty entertaining.

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I've come across a lot of reviewers that consider "Solitaire" to be a truthful voice of our generation, a brutally honest manifesto of a teenager. Well, I think it's quite the opposite. I don't even think that Oseman intended to try to capture the high school experience. Tori has a very limited perception and is very judgmental. She picks out flaws in everyone and the world that Tori sees does not reflect reality. Everyone around her is irrelevant, nothing has a point for her, and nobody has a right to be happy about anything. Yes, you might say that's just the side effect of her depression, but I'm not a fan of that portrayal.

Rating: 
★★



Overall: Do I Recommend?

I thought it was very boring and exhausting to read. Oseman clearly is a talented writer, but the characters are not doing the novel a favor. I would have liked this more had it been told from the point-of-view of her best friend Becky. I also believe this would have worked better without Solitaire itself. It has potential to be a great character-driven novel, instead of a very badly executed mix between character -and plot-driven.

I wouldn't recommend this, because I think it's very offensive for people suffering from mental illness. Portrayals of depressed characters that just show the apathy and ignorance aren't very creative, and frankly inaccurate. I'd still pick up Oseman's next novel, simply because I believe she is a good writer and just chose terrible characters to write a mediocre story about.

And yeah, the synopsis isn't very accurate. "Solitaire" totally is a love story.



Additional Info

Original Title: "Solitaire"
Author: Alice Oseman
Published: 21st August 2015
Pages: 384
Medium: Hardcover
Publisher: dtv
Cover: dtv, 2015
Genre: YA / Contemporary
ISBN: 9783423761192

Synopsis:
"In case you’re wondering, this is not a love story.

My name is Tori Spring. I like to sleep and I like to blog. Last year – before all that stuff with Charlie and before I had to face the harsh realities of A-Levels and university applications and the fact that one day I really will have to start talking to people – I had friends. Things were very different, I guess, but that’s all over now.

Now there’s Solitaire. And Michael Holden.

I don’t know what Solitaire are trying to do, and I don’t care about Michael Holden.

I really don’t."
(Source: Goodreads)

 Have you read "Solitaire"?


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