I've discovered a Young Adult author whose work I enjoy very much: Kelly Oram, author of V Is For Virgin and Serial Hottie. It took me less than two days to plow through both novels because I just couldn't put them down! Her writing is easy and conversational, and reminds me a bit of Meg Cabot's -- which I mean as a compliment.
V Is For Virgin is narrated by a young woman named Valerie, a high school senior who -- gasp! -- has decided to not have sex until marriage. *SPOILERS AHEAD* After she's dumped by her boyfriend for not putting out, their confrontation in the cafeteria goes viral -- and Val takes a very strong stand by turning her decision to wait into a movement for other teens. Meantime, she captures the attention of a rock star and her movement becomes an even bigger deal than she'd anticipated.
Okay, so many parts of this story were pretty fantastic and slightly unrealistic, but who cares? This is why I read fiction and Oram made all of her book's events perfectly believable. I loved Val, who was strong, outspoken and determined to stick to her beliefs. I also liked the fact that her virginity really wasn't the main concern; the book's true theme was about choices and the idea of standing behind one's own decisions.Though the book deals with the ideas of virginity and abstinence, it is not preachy at all. Val (and the author) never claim that being a virgin is the right choice; it's more about it being the right choice for VAL and she has a very specific and important reason for why she wants to wait.
Of course, with this being a YA novel, there is a love triangle and both guys involved are compelling. You can understand why Val would be attracted to either one. However, the relationships between her best girl friend and a couple of new girl friends are also very well drawn, so it isn't just about Val and the guys.
The one downside for me is that I wasn't crazy about Val's rock star suitor. I found him to be a bit too pushy and disrespectful of Val's personal space. He wasn't a bad guy, but he seemed to think that he could win her over by constantly getting in her face -- and I just didn't find that to be very attractive.
Almost immediately after finishing V Is For Virgin, I began Serial Hottie. In this novel, the narrator is 16-year-old tomboy, Ellie. *SPOILERS AHEAD* She's very attracted to Seth, the new boy in town who's just moved in across the street, but when a serial killer murders several girls who look like her, she suspects that her new suitor could be the culprit. *Gulp.*
And boy does she have good reasons to suspect him: Seth is skilled in karate and knife throwing, and seems to be a little too interested in the murders. He also has a bad temper and "kidnaps" Ellie to prove that he won't hurt her. Um... what?
I didn't like this book as much as Virgin, but I still enjoyed reading it. Again, Oram pulled me right into the story and I couldn't wait to find out who was the real serial killer. Ellie was a decent narrator, but was a bit violent for my taste (she breaks a guy's nose and punches a girl in the face, among other things). However, I LOVED her relationship with her "girly-girl" sister, Angela. At the start of the book, she and Ang don't seem to have much in common, but as the summer progresses, they bond and become friends. Once again, Oram invests a lot of time in crafting a female friendship, which I must appreciated.
My issue with this book is the same as the other: I was not crazy about the "hero," Seth. *MAJOR SPOILER BELOW*
Though Seth obviously wasn't the killer, he had major, major issues! He also had a violent streak and was jealous of Ellie's many friendships with boys. He also kept telling Ellie that he'd "make" her be his, which wasn't romantic; it was creepy. He did have a sweet side, but like the rock star in VIRGIN, was also very pushy and disrespectful of Ellie's personal space. I guess the author thinks that pushy guys are romantic? See, I don't. And I really never liked it when a guy would insist that I had feeling for him before I was ready to say that I did.
Even so, I was entertained by both stories and enjoyed Oram's writing. I'm going to check out her supernatural YA book Being Jamie Baker and will let you know what I think of it. As for the other two, I give Virgin 4.5 stars and Hottie 3.5. Both are quick reads that I recommend to anyone who loves YA!
Please read and review my novel REVENGE OF A BAND GEEK GONE BAD.