Kayla Harris

Review of Natasha Desborough’s: Weirdo’s vs Quimboid

Due for release October 3rd 2013.

I initially read this book and have written a simple review for David’s Bookshop review site as a favour, but whilst reading it, I knew this book should feature on my site too. I have many reasons to include it; there is fun and comedy (something any woman should have, daily) the classic clash of the popular, or ‘beautiful’ crowd versus the ‘weirdo’s’, the nerds, geeks or however they may have been seen in other times. However, more importantly for me, the sole reason this book made it into my blog came down to the underlying content that I so love to pick up on.

Desborough knows her teens. It’s evident throughout the story. Her characterisations are fantastic in that they are easy to relate to and engage with. Whether you consider yourself a nerd or popular type, it doesn’t matter, you can identify with any character thrown into this mix.

A bit of background…

The point of view comes from Blossom and she is a typical troubled teen, she has her mock exams going on, her parents are utter weirdo’s, her two best friends equally so, but that’s alright because they’re all ‘social outcasts’ together, and she is ‘like, totally’ infatuated with the most popular guy in school. She is bullied and laughed at, jeered at and ridiculed daily and is never invited to a party – however, she is not one to give up.

Her life seems on the up, when she and her best friend Petrina are pushed into helping out at their school radio station. Felix and Toby, the two hottest guys run the show… with their equally ‘hot’ girlfriends. However, not one to let an obstacle get in her way, she powers in and all kinds of events follow…

Throughout the story you grow to learn each character’s traits and can spot where certain situations are bound to head and a lot of the time you are right, but sometimes, you’re wrong – and not in a bad way. (Ok, so this may be a potential spoiler) The surprises are fantastic and you find Blossom climbing her way up the success ladder through a mix of sheer accident and pure dedication, I found myself punching the air whenever something went well for her and a sense of utter smugness whenever she witnesses her bullies’ get their comeuppance.

Her sidekicks; Walter and Petrina make for fantastic entertainment and keep the readers wanting more with hints of a little secret story of their own going on. Other characters, such as Paulette Dempsey – a self-professed asexual that creates her very own dating agency. Much fun and laughter ensues when Blossom signs up and many a gasps at the descriptions of Paulette’s wardrobe. Felix and Toby, whilst being typical teenage boys are not completely dislikable. And lastly; Fiona and Lucy – the two most popular girls in the school, complete with luscious blonde locks and a nasty personality. My personal favourite was Andreas, boyfriend to Blossom’s sister Breeze – their constant, trivial ups and downs and hilarious arguments had me thinking about them even when they were not mentioned – who was portrayed with hilarious wit and high volume emotions, but he proves his worth spectacularly.

Blossoms parents were a different matter. They actually had me feeling quite cross at times – Well the mother did… Desborough manages to highlight both the negative and the positive aspects of parenting whilst creating a very unusual set up. By keeping the father more mature and able to keep control (most of the time) he manages to keep the household from imploding, while the mother appears to be running around doing whatever the hell she wants and shows the damaging side to parenting that come from selfish desires. I think it’s a good idea to show conflict and issues within family dynamics because it highlights how and why teens behave in so many ways. It’s all too easy to cry ‘teenage angst’ and claim they have nothing to gripe about, but parental influence has as much responsibility as hormonal imbalance for their behaviour.

Desborough makes the reader deal with trivial issues that most adults dismiss as childish and unimportant, and reminds us of how they felt to us when we were that age. In fact she reminds us that WE WERE that age. By having the conflicting parental influences going on we, as the outsiders, gain the insight to what is a positive response and what isn’t. By seeing everything through a teenagers rose tinted vision, complete with contrasting pessimism and naivety, we are able to identify with all of her experiences – even if we never have pulled our previous days worn knickers from the bottom of our jeans… in front of our fancy men (boys)!! The humour is warm and considerate, so you won’t find yourself laughing in a derogative way, but it will get you giggling. Loudly (on a busy train in my case).

I so wanted to see Blossom achieve all her desires and I was really glad when Blossom goes to her first ever party… and has fun!! Of course, post party come down, with all alcohol flushed out of the system, brings her back to her usual feeling of humiliation. But that’s how it goes, we all did it and Blossom proves that she might just learn from her mistakes – can all of us say we learned?

Despite the crazy situations and hugely embarrassing outcomes Blossom finds herself in, she does actually try to reflect on her choices and their outcomes – ok she doesn’t always get it right, but at least there is effort. She certainly keeps that rosy vision firmly in place when it comes to her crush, but again, who didn’t at that age? What Desborough avoids doing with this ‘relationship’ is force it to happen.  I have seen so many times in teen fiction this blind persistence into relationships, behaviour and choice and there is no ground work for any teen reader to learn from, their lead into a world of misguided bullshit. Desborough does not fail me here. I feel her outcomes for Blossom, and the other characters, are well deserved and well planned. There is a happy ending, but not one that you might expect, say, with other teen romance novels. A teen’s sole focus at that age is the pursuit of LOVE, it’s practically all they are programmed to concentrate on, however, that does not always mean that there should be a happy ending for the leading female (or male) character if really, it would never work in ‘real life’. Relationships shouldn’t be forced if they’re just not right and Desborough shows this with perfection. Blossom may have her head in the clouds most of the time, with some truly spectacular fantasies and justification, but she seems to be on the point of learning to accept herself  for who and what she is and for me that makes for fantastic, responsible and influential writing. Any parent wanting their children to read books that will have them enjoying good writing and fun storylines, without the worry of them being mislead and come away fantasising about being with some dark and brooding character that by definition would have you wanting them running a mile from, then Desborough is definitely one that is as safe as houses.

On the whole, this novel was an utter joy, and was so NOT a letdown. And that is an actual, scientific FACT.


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