Author: Kody Keplinger
Pages: 273 (Paperback)
Release Date: September 5, 2011
Purchase: Amazon•TBD (affiliate link)
<p>Most high school sports teams have rivalries with other schools. At Hamilton High, it's a civil war: the football team versus the soccer team. And for her part,Lissa is sick of it. Her quarterback boyfriend, Randy, is always ditching her to go pick a fight with the soccer team or to prank their locker room. And on three separate occasions Randy's car has been egged while he and Lissa were inside, making out. She is done competing with a bunch of sweaty boys for her own boyfriend's attention.</p>
<p>Lissa decides to end the rivalry once and for all: She and the other players' girlfriends go on a hookup strike. The boys won't get any action from them until the football and soccer teams make peace. What they don't count on is a new sort of rivalry: an impossible girls-against-boys showdown that hinges on who will cave to their libidos first. And Lissa never sees her own sexual tension with the leader of the boys, Cash Sterling, coming.</p>
Sex. This book is about sex. Specifically, teenage sex. Be warned. Now that that’s out of the way, I absolutely loved The DUFF, so I did have high expectations for Shut Out. While I enjoyed it, it felt too “after school special” to me at times. At least if after school specials were about girls embracing and taking control of their sexuality. Lissa is sick of her boyfriend ditching her for the stupid rivalry between their schools’ football and soccer teams. She calls a meeting with other girlfriends of guys on the teams and find out that they’re sick of it, too. So she comes up with an idea to end the rivalry and get their relationships back: a sex strike. She believes that if the girls all withhold sex and sexual favors, their guys will become putty in their hands and put all of the hazing and pranks behind them. What starts as a simple strike turns into a full on war between guys and girls.
My first impression of Shut Out was a bad one. I could not stand Lissa from the very first chapter. She is beyond uptight and is the definition of a control freak. There is an explanation for her over-the-top behavior, but I still found her incredibly annoying. I mean, this girl yells at her brother who is almost 30 because he’s maybe 5 minutes late coming home and didn’t call. What?! In fact, she freaks out any time anyone is even a second late to anything! Everyone must follow her schedule or all hell breaks loose. I understand that she’s the woman of the house and feels the need to take care of her father and brother, but she takes it way too far. I also didn’t like how almost everything that came out of her mouth felt like the script from that after school special I already mentioned. Lissa drove me completely bonkers!
There is a not-so subtle message about sex in Shut Out, which I do agree with, but at the same time I felt like I was being beaten over the head with it. I definitely appreciate and applaud the author for talking about teen sex in a realistic and open manner, but this book took things a bit too far. I did love the scenes of all of the jock girlfriends talking about their feelings and experiences (or lack thereof) with sex. Many different opinions are included, and it was made clear that none of them are more right or normal than the others. It’s a great message, but it was always in the forefront and overshadowed the rest of the story. My favorite character, Chloe, was deemed the school slut for liking sex and sleeping with many guys. She didn’t let this faze her, which I loved, but every time she opened her mouth it was to preach about how girls don’t need to be ashamed of their sexuality and all that. At times it seemed that was all her character was used for.
This review is coming out more negative than I intended. I did enjoy Shut Out. It was a fun, boys versus girls rivalry, but all of the stuff that bothered me stands out more than what I did like. It’s a fairly simple and predictable story about a complicated issue, but I think that works for the most part. I just wish that the book’s message wasn’t so in-your-face all of the time and that the characters were less caricatures and more multidimensional. I definitely think more books like this need to exist though, since pro-sex messages for girls are important.
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