Blaze is tired of spending her life on the sidelines, drawing comics and feeling invisible. She's desperate for soccer star Mark to notice her. And when her BFF texts Mark a photo of Blaze in sexy lingerie, it definitely gets his attention. After a hot date in the back of her minivan, Blaze is flying high, but suddenly Mark's feelings seem to have been blasted by a freeze-ray gun, and he dumps her. Blaze gets her revenge by posting a comic strip featuring uber-villain Mark the Shark. Mark then retaliates by posting her "sext" photo, and, overnight, Blaze goes from Super Virgin Girl to Super Slut. That life on the sidelines is looking pretty good right about now... (from Goodreads)
I wanted to read Blaze mostly because of the comic book angle; also, I really loved the cover. Loving certain aspects of a book, as I should have remembered, does not mean I’ll love the WHOLE book, however, and that’s what happened here. I like bits and pieces of Blaze, but when you stick them all together what comes out is this:
Okay, so, it had a really good start. Blaze (the character) is a flawed and naive person and she REALLY needs to spend more time reading things like Rookie alongside her comics. Mark, the “love interest,” is super creepy and manipulative but not in a way that screamed FAKE to me, if that makes sense? Like, I can totally see this sort of thing happening in real life, and it DOES, and so that part of the book is no problem.
Somewhere in the second half, though, it went awry. I think my main problem was that there was SO MUCH STUFF to get through: trying to win Mark back, revenge on Mark, new job, new love interest, dealing with the deadbeat dad, PREGNANCY SCARE, dealing with mom, dealing with brother, dealing with deadbeat best friend, etc. I never knew which was the focus and which was the subplot– it was like the main story (which was…Mark? Blaze’s dad?) got subsumed under all the other stories, which is not good.
AND all that stuff had to be solved in a reasonably final way in a very short amount of time, and it was like going on a roller coaster where the climax is falling off during the loop-de-loop.
Though everything tied up pretty neatly, I didn’t feel any emotional satisfaction. Blaze didn’t really grow as a person– she just went from one problem to another and things magically worked out. Even the ending sequence, where she gets her revenge on her deadbeat dad, didn’t feel as emotionally satisfying as it should have been. Maybe because it didn’t really solve anything. It was like putting a bandaid over an ax wound. Right idea, wrong application.
Also I could NOT get behind Blaze’s new boyfriend, for a couple reasons. First, it’s almost like Blaze gets a reward at the end for going through all that bad stuff EVEN THOUGH she basically didn’t learn anything and she didn’t change as a person. The point of a reward is to acknowledge the effort you put into something! Right? Not as a consolation prize.
Secondly, her new boyfriend? Is a total jerk! WTF, what sort of employee goes around insulting customers and doesn’t get fired? And he was ESPECIALLY insulting towards female customers– including Blaze!!– even doing the whole Fake Geek Girl test thing. And he never got called on it and it was never brought up as a problem, and ugh, so gross.
So the ending was a total disappointment, basically.
While Blaze had a lot of true to life situations in it, and while it has some very good advice for its readers (especially teens), I don’t think it was executed as well as it could have been. With this kind of story I think less is more. The focus should have been on either Mark or Blaze’s dad, with the other stuff as subplots. By shoving everything into the spotlight all at once, all the important “lessons” (like sticking up for yourself) got lost.
Read: June 17-18, 2013
If you want something LIKE Blaze but less messy, check out Lauren Myracle’s ttyl series.