Review: Shut Out, Kody Keplinger (Sept. 2011)

Sick of taking a backseat to the endless rivalry between her school’s soccer and football teams, Lissa, the quarterback’s girlfriend, convinces other athletes’ girlfriends to join her in a sex strike. (Whew! I love a book with a one-sentence premise.) Lissa’s a little bossy and overly organized (she even works at the library! …um), but what she doesn’t count on is her attraction to Cash Sterling, soccer star. (Loosely based on Aristophanes’ play Lysistrata, obviously.)

This was super fun! It’s not Great Literature or anything, but I zipped through it in a night and thoroughly enjoyed the experience. There’s a relatable protagonist, her sassy best friend, her loveable dad, and of course her douchebag boyfriend (who did have enough positive qualities that I could see why she’d dated him in the first place, thank goodness) and the sensitive hunk she falls for. Who is quite a catch, I will agree. (Sorry, I’m pretty sure that doesn’t really qualify as a spoiler.)

The core of this book is the girls’ discovery that sex is a dangerous and unfair weapon when used by either gender; men don’t have a corner on manipulation. There’s a somewhat heavy-handed feminist/sex-positive message of “there is no ‘normal’,” as well as an introduction to the concepts of slut-shaming and double standards. I say “heavy-handed,” but I’m always amazed at how uncritically my students think about this stuff. So I actually think this book adds something really important to the conversation, and maybe it needs to be a bit unsubtle (in, again, a light and fun read) to get the point across.

If it wasn’t obvious from the premise, this is definitely an older-YA sort of book. It’s all about the sex, plus it’s not shy with the f-bombs. If you’re going to try to tell me that even my relatively sheltered students are not talking this way and thinking about (and doing, some of them) this stuff as sophomores, juniors, and seniors, you have never met teenagers. This has “Top Banned Books of 2011” written all over it, but it’s an entirely appropriate YA book. Just maybe not for middle schoolers.

Despite the unbelievable amount of buzz, I couldn’t find other reviews yet. But Phoebe North did an awesome interview with Kody Keplinger. (I’m reading all September ARCs right now, so if I don’t post some of my reviews this blog will be pretty quiet. But I’ll remind you when this comes out, promise!)

Review copy provided by the publisher — and signed by the author! — at BEA.

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4 Responses to Review: Shut Out, Kody Keplinger (Sept. 2011)

  1. Pingback: Books coming out this month!

  2. Sam says:

    Whoa, I guess there ARE two Lysistrata books hot off the presses! Weird. Well, it’s not like sex is an under-mined topic in YA lit, so I guess it makes sense…

  3. Steph says:

    Is this the Lysistrata spinoff that also features adults in the town doing this too? I think I saw a review for that in Booklist. If not, color me surprised that there are two Lysistrata spin-offs hot off the presses! I mean, great orig Greek play, but kind of scholarly obscure, ya know? Did you go to BEA? JEALOUS!

  4. jaime says:

    WOOO GREEK STUDIES! Rad. Also, no matter how dirty it is, Aristophanes is dirtier.

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