REVIEW: The Implosion of Aggie Winchester by Lara Zielin

REVIEW: The Implosion of Aggie Winchester by Lara ZielinThe Implosion of Aggie Winchester by Lara Zielin
Published: Putnam Juvenile (2011), Paperback, 278pg
Genres: Contemporary, Fiction
Source: Publisher


Summary:

Sixteen-year-old Aggie Winchester couldn’t care less about who’s elected prom queen-even if it’s her pregnant Goth-girl best friend, Sylvia Ness. Aggie’s got bigger things to worry about, like whether or not her ex-boyfriend wants to get back together and whether her mom will survive cancer.

But like it or not, Aggie soon finds herself in the middle of an unfolding prom scandal, largely because her mom, who is the school’s principal, is rumored to have burned prom ballots so Sylvia won’t be elected queen. Aggie’s own investigation makes her wonder if the election could be dirty on both sides. (from Amazon)

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I said on Twitter that this was like everyone in my high school shoved into a book, and I still stand by that. I knew people like Aggie; I knew people like Sylvia; random secondary and tertiary characters were pretty much like everyone else I knew as well– and that, right there, is the key to this book’s brilliance.

The author

Yes, maybe it’s a bit melodramatic, and maybe sometimes I wanted to shake Aggie and tell her that, like, it’s not THAT big of a deal, but what teenager isn’t melodramatic and annoying? Maybe the prom scandal/cancer/pregnant teenager/boyfriend troubles makes for a messy plot, but it was still weirdly realistic for all that it was also kind of insane. I think that because the relationships between the characters were so true to life, everything else became plausible, too (at least for the duration of the book).

What I liked best about The Implosion of Aggie Winchester was that it never tried to preach anything to the reader. When you’re an adult and miles away from your teenage years, it’s easy to see how silly some things are that seemed, at the time, like A Really Big Deal. When you’re a teen, however, you don’t really have that perspective and so everything is horrible beyond belief. What I think Implosion was trying to do was show that while some things are bad and it’s okay to be upset about the bad things, some things are really good, too, and it’s important to acknowledge both sides of life.

It’s also got some nice themes of standing up for yourself, of doing what’s right even if it’ll hurt people you love, and of not falling into peer pressure. There’s some stuff about bad relationships as well, and about how to get out of them, and– really, it’s kind of like a primer to teenage life.

If you’d rather forget about being a teenager you probably wouldn’t like this book, but if you are a teenager, or if you know a teenager and have forgotten how to relate to them, then you should definitely read this book. It’ll comfort you either way, I think; you’ll know that you aren’t alone and that, eventually, things do get better.

Read: July 23, 2011

This Black Metal Book Review cover of Implosion‘s Kirkus review is very entertaining:

6 Comments

    • Anastasia

      I think in some novels it makes sense (like if the kid was forced to grow up fast for some reason or whatever), but I do enjoy more realistic books, too. Plus it makes me laugh whenever I read about a teen throwing a hissy fit!

  1. I believe that books like this, with drama that does not seem like drama to adults but can very well be for teenagers would have been great reading when I was a teen. I somehow feel the market for it has grown and become more adept to the teenage world than 10 years ago. I do wonder if in the end all of the dramas occuring in these books aren’t rather the same and if perhaps after 4 or 5 books of this sort you need a break because it might get too predictable?

    • Anastasia

      Very true, about the market growing. When I was a teen I remember some books that were kind of like this one (dealing with tough issues), but there definitely weren’t as many then as there are now.

      Normally I think I have a very low tolerance for melodrama, or even for “depressing” books. I think probably if I read a whole bunch all at once I might get fed up, but as I read them very rarely anyway I haven’t hit that threshold yet. 🙂

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