Series: Creakwood #2
Publisher : Balzer + Bray | Harpercollins
Genre : Young Adult |Contemporary
Page Count: 343
Synopsis : Leah Burke—girl-band drummer, master of deadpan, and Simon Spier’s best friend from the award-winning Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda—takes center stage in this novel of first love and senior-year angst. When it comes to drumming, Leah Burke is usually on beat—but real life isn’t always so rhythmic. An anomaly in her friend group, she’s the only child of a young, single mom, and her life is decidedly less privileged. She loves to draw but is too self-conscious to show it. And even though her mom knows she’s bisexual, she hasn’t mustered the courage to tell her friends—not even her openly gay BFF, Simon.
So Leah really doesn’t know what to do when her rock-solid friend group starts to fracture in unexpected ways. With prom and college on the horizon, tensions are running high. It’s hard for Leah to strike the right note while the people she loves are fighting—especially when she realizes she might love one of them more than she ever intended. (From Goodreads)
TW: racist comment (challenged), biphobia, fatphobia
Listen. Listen. No one is more surprised than me by how much I disliked this book. I’m sad. And disappointed. And sad some more. Because this book let me down from an 80 stories building and i’m just. Sigh. If you follow me on Twitter, you know I’ve been championing this book from the moment it was announced til it hit the NYT Bestseller’s list, I was so sure I would love it but then issues started surfacing and my excitement went down a few notches but I still thought I would enjoy it. What surprised me the most though is I didn’t even have an issue with most things people complained about, some of them bugged me for sure, but not enough to dislike the book. It was just a bunch of things adding up which I’m gonna break down in this review.
The writing is pretty good, kind of similar to the one in Simon vs. the Homosapiens’ Agenda where it’s obvious it’s written by the same person but still different in the way that Leah’s personality still shines through it which is Always a sign of skilled writing. One thing I really liked about this is the humour, Leah is sharp and snarky and VERY sarcastic which is my kind of character and it translates well into the narration.
Now, Leah. I know a lot of people had a problem with her character, about how temperamental she is, how sometimes she speaks before she thinks and says hurtful things, she’s hotheaded and abrasive but the thing is, that’s how some teens are, that’s actually how I was as a teen, so I really appreciated her character, not only for that but also for how she was portrayed for having a softer inside that she didn’t know how act on at all, how her anxieties overwhelm her and make her think the worst of everything and everyone, how honest and funny she is and she never hesitates to stand up for the people she cares about (she called out and kind of cut off a friend of hers who implied Abby got into a college because she’s black). What I had an issue with though is that she’s NEVER held accountable for her fuck-ups.
Like I said, being the way she is is perfectly normal but the thing is, she hurts quite a few people and treats her friends and family like crap but that just… flies? Which would NEVER happen in real life. She literally never apologized for anything. NOT ONCE. Not when she lashes out on her mom, not when she lashes out on any of her friends, things just magically go back to normal as if nothing ever happened. What was the most striking is what you’ve probably heard of: Leah’s love interest comes out to her as “lowkey bi” in what is clearly a very vulnerable moment, which gets Leah, who is also bisexual, to tell her that it’s not really a thing to be “lowkey” be, you either are or aren’t and basically policing her label.
I understand the reaction, I really do. With the kind of backlash bi people face, Leah getting defensive and protective of her sexuality like that BUT that did hurt the girl, she was questioning and easing into the new label and Leah basically rejected her and erased her identity. Again, an understandable reaction but one that usually has consequences. You just can’t say something like that, hurt someone like that, and be with them later on without apologizing. So in my opinion, the fact that the scene was written isn’t really a problem, what’s a problem though is that it was never brought up again.
The next thing I had an issue with is that the book was labelled “a cute f/f romance” which…I didn’t see. I honestly didn’t see it. The feelings were established before the book even started, but the thing is for half the book, Leah and her love interest never interact beyond a few words and for the second half it’s the LI trying to get close and Leah just biting her head off over and over again. I love my angst, but this was just non stop angst. All of that together made for little to no on page development for the romance which really saddens me, as the couple is one I was rooting for. There were two cute moments in the whole book, both of which took place in the last two chapters. Otherwise all the cuteness came from Simon and Blue, I LIVED for their interactions as well as little gestures towards each other. And that made me sadder in a way, because I wish Leah’s romance had the same treatment. I wish I could say it was adorable but it wasn’t.
The ending felt very messy to me. The chapter before last was absolutely perfect, it takes place at prom and it full of heart to hearts and cuteness but has a few unresolved things like how <Spoiler> Nick reacts to Leah and Abby being together, as well as Garrett who is Leah’s DATE WHO SHE HAS BEEN LEADING ON FOR THE WHOLE LENGTH OF THE BOOK <End of Spoiler> then between that and the last, a lot has changed, those things are perfectly wrapped up and even Leah seems like a whole different person but we never see any of those things happen which was quite frustrating to me. During the whole book, Leah goes through very little character development but then suddenly at the end she’s changed and when did that happen? how? I’m annoyed. That chapter was really cute like I said but it was just SO out of place I couldn’t fully enjoy it.
I really wish certain characters were treated better. I really wish the romance was given the space to develop organically. I really wish the ship was given the kind of chemistry they deserve and that I was hoping for. Y’all don’t even understand how much I shipped them and for things to go well for them. So it’s safe to say I felt cheated. And my disappointement is the size of the galaxy.
That’s it until next time.
Did you read Leah on the Offbeat? If so, what did you think?
Hope you enjoyed, write to you soon.