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August 25, 2012

[White Pine 2012] "Something Wicked" by Lesley Anne Cowan

This review was typed up way back, when White Pine 2012 was still going on at school. I didn't have the guts to post this because...well, I guess I didn't know how people would react to what I had to say. Now that this little blog has sustained a bit more time, I think I'll throw this bomb out the window now.

Warning: Long and personal, (possibly touchy) post ahead.

Vivi's 5th book read for White Pine this year. Now. This book. I am treading very, VERY carefully here, and first off, I will state that whatever I write in my review, I intended it as honest opinion not meant to offend anyone in any way.

Continued after the jump.

[Clickey the cover for Goodreads!]
Title: Something Wicked
Author: Lesley Anne Cowan
Publication: 2010, Puffin Books

Summary: Melissa’s most recent troubles stem from a secret: her 28-year-old boyfriend, Michael, has just broken up with her. Melissa clings to the memories, riding a relentless wave of hope and disappointment. Meaningless sexual escapades, drunken nights, and drug-induced blackouts help her cope with heartbreak, but her pain goes much deeper than unrequited teenage love....read more

Review:  This book stunned me. Like a slap across my face. I am not quite sure how I feel about it because my reaction of an aftershock following the reading of this book is a complete jumble of complicated emotions. Negative? Positive? I will say it has stunned and pained me quite negatively, but I will also say that it has led to a lot of reflecting done on my part. During the journey through this bluntly realistic read, I was torn between following this character and listening to my own morals and what I think life and society for young girls like Melissa (and me) should be like. In the "Review" section, I will try to review this book by what this book is, but I have a lot to say after that as well. 

This documentary-like book is written in the most crude and blunt rendition of the character's life, personality, and feelings as possible. Melissa runs wild, a high school student having a relationship with a 28-year-old man, swinging by house parties and having sex casually, and running loose as her mother isn't near as responsible as what a parent should be. Her vocabulary is stained with a potent and overwhelmingly bottomless supply of swear words and I visibly winced at practically each and every one. (though I'm more sensitive to that than most people.) She also called herself "Echo" because to lock out the adults who try to "help" her, she has the habit of repeating what they say.

 The use of first person brought me up close to Melissa to an uncomfortable extent. I will give points to Ms. Cowan, though,  for painting such a shocking montage of another face of our society. Grinding through this book was like being grounded to stay by Melissa's side for a torturing period of time. Melissa, as a character, is actually decently created though, and at one point, I was starting to feel bad for her. I was hoping for her to get better, I really was. As the synopsis states, Melissa has to decide whether to keep fighting—or to let go. "or to let go." Excuse me? You mean to just let go and to keep going in life like how she was living it? Let go and just let herself fall so far down that by that point, no one could ever reach her anymore?

I don't know what else to say. This is one mess of a review, and I'm sorry!!! However, that's exactly how this book felt to me and how I felt after reading it. A mess. Not necessarily the "mess" that is categorized as bad, but just a jumble of uncoordinated elements that leaves you feeling completely lost and messed up.

Rating: 1 Depressed Hoot

Final Notes: I cannot seem to be able to focus on this book itself at all, mainly due to the fact that it addresses such harsh issues. However, it has brought a lot of thinking to my opinionated head about our world today. I will be truthful and say that this book exposed me to a side of society that I have never encountered so up close before, and therefore, it resulted in me being a bit...paralyzed, in a sense. It is a face that I am not at all familiar with. It is a face that we are educated to stay away from. It is a face that scares me.

Yet I have to acknowledge that it is there, and how important it is for us to help people like Melissa.

However, I'd like to take a moment and ask, is it really necessary to bring upon such exposure to this situation in such a blunt and imposing manner to the young people of our society? Is it really necessary to do this through the powerful way of the pen? I don't approve of this. I believe that high school students like us get enough exposure to this world through other outlets and agents of socialization.

The author has her freedom of exploring this topic as much as she wants, but I am absolutely 100% against this being in White Pine, making its way through mass production to go straight into the hands of today's high school students.(Spoiler at 3 o' clock)  This book has no definite end. It offers no solid conclusion that says Melissa improves and finds herself. She doesn't. How is this encouraging people in reality who may end up like her? We should try to improve this world, and through this, it is not happening.

Of course, the author can write what she wants. But please, please, PLEASE! We should be choosing the audience more wisely. High school students get no correct sense of morals and strong and justified independent thinking out of this type of book.

Thank you for reading, if you have reached it this far. I will state once again that I do not mean to offend anyone in any way in this post. It is a mere state of my honest opinion, and it was not meant to put down the author personally regarding her writing in any way at all.



  1. It's really interesting to hear your thoughts, Vivian! Honestly, I don't think I could read something like this. Not that I don't think serious issues should be addressed, I'm just not entirely comfortable reading about them all the time. This has a 2.93 average on Goodreads, which isn't helping much either. Thank you for your honest opinion! :)

  2. I don't think you're insulting anyone with your opinion Vivian. You're free to think however you want and considering how many people disliked this book, I don't think you're the only one feeling this way. I probably won't pick up this book because I hate when books have those open endings. This character seems like she needs an ending or at least something to say she's going to be okay.

  3. I've also felt slightly... frazzled after finishing some books. But I think in a different way than what you are expressing here. I'm glad you posted this - you probably needed to let it out. Like Sam I don't think I would read this. If you're saying it exposes delicate issues harshly, then I think I'll stay back from it. It doesn't really appeal to me anyway...
    And I don't think I could handle a teenager going out with a 28-year-old man! That's just too wierd for me to even think about!

    Brilliant review nonetheless! ^.^

  4. I find your review very interesting and honest. It's not a mess at all, because I clearly understand that I won't read this book. Mainly because of the thing you said as a spoiler (and I won't say it here, because I hate it when I read comments that spoiler :p) Thanks for sharing this honest review, Viv!

  5. I absolutely love your honesty in this review Vivi--and I think you bring up a really good point pushing books like this into the hands of high school students. While I'm sure it's a feat of the author to be able to write such an evocative, but realistic, story, but I don't think this is my kind of read.
    Fabulous review nonetheless Vivi dear, and thanks for your honest opinion!

  6. Lovely review! I mean, the honesty in it is brilliant.<3 I think I disagree that this shouldn't be in White Pine [though I admit I have no idea what that is...], because things like this DO happen [regarding the mindless sex, drunken nights and drugs... It also happens waaaay too often!], and different things appeal to different people, as well as giving the author some exposure. But I do understand where you're coming from and I really admire you for putting yourself out there with this review!

    It's such a shame this issues were addressed bluntly, when they could have been dealt with elegantly and woven into a hard hitting story. Though a 16 year old in a relationship with a 28 year old? Seriously?! Ewww! No offence to anyone out there, because it's not the number of years between the two, it's the fact that she's sixteen! So wrong!

    Either way, thanks for sharing your thoughs with us, Viv!<3 I love how honest this is.<3

    1. Thanks for being brave and contradicting me on that, Ria! <3 I had a friend who loved this book, and although we have different tastes, I guess I can try to understand how it could appeal to others ^_^ Glad you liked the honesty XD

  7. Love your honesty Vivian, the book wouldn't appeal to me. I think these things do happen but the story needs to be told thoughtfully. Too often I've read books where there seems to be no point to the story...if I wanted that I could watch sensationalist TV shows. It would be worth getting to the heart of why things like this might happen. I've not read the book, but it sounds as though an opportunity was missed in the telling.
    Katja @ YA's the Word

  8. Great review, Vivi! I agree with you, it seems authors should write more in the healing department and showing people that they can get through whatever mess they're in- instead of just writing a whole book of a girl who never really finds that closure. It seems sort of pointless and sends out a terrible message.. I really, really loved this review of yours! It's probably one of my favorites you've written, I love the message you point out and how you explained everything so perfectly. C: I'm sorry this book was such a let down for you, though. ): Thanks so much for the review! <3

  9. You shouldn't need to apologise for giving your opinion! I think we all appreciate honesty in reviews :)

    It's disappointing to hear that... well, she doesn't learn anything from this. I can TOTALLY understand the issues you had with this book and to be honest, I really don't think it's something I'd enjoy. Fantastic review though, don't be sorry for it!

  10. I'm really sorry this has nothing to do with this post but I just wanted to let you know that as part of my monthly newsletter, I've nominated you as my Blogger of the Month. Congratulations! Here is the link to the newsletter...


    1. P.S: It is not an award, just a privilege!

    2. Awww, thank you, Hazal! I'm honoured that you chose me ^_^

  11. Awwwww... Viv! Like Brodie said, DON'T BE SORRY for expressing your own opinions!!!! I don't think this is my type of book either....I mean, some series issues I can cope with; but this sounds over-the-top. Thank you so much for your honest thoughts Viv!

  12. Was just speaking with a fellow teacher librarian about this book because I disliked it so intensely. I found that our White Pine group didn't respond as strongly to it as I did. I found the main character completely unlikeable and could not find a single redeeming quality... I wanted so badly to, at least, begin to change my mind about her but I kept coming back to hating her choices. Lots of people go through lots of terrible things but don't make such hateful choices. I found, in the end, that I had no patience or sympathy for her any more. Perhaps that says more about me than about her.

    Thanks so much for your review. Your perspective has been interesting to read.


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