Wednesday, September 18, 2013

ARC REVIEW: NOTABLE (Awkward, #3) by Marni Bates

Title: Notable
Series: Awkward, #3
Author: Marni Bates
Publisher: Kensington Books: K-Teen
Publication Date: October 29, 2013
Genre: Young Adult
Reviewed by: Books4Tomorrow
Source: NetGalley
My rating: 5/5

SUMMARY

I take no prisoners…

I'm Chelsea Halloway and I will happily destroy your social life if you mess with me. Just ask anyone. There is no situation I can't handle. Divorcing parents? No problem. An ex-boyfriend who wants to date Smith High School's biggest geek instead of me? Just a matter of time before I can make him see reason. At least, until my parents decide to ship me off on a study abroad trip to Cambodia…

Now instead of being admired as the queen of the Notables, I'm stuck with a bunch of college students who don't take me seriously, and a professor who accidentally landed himself on the wrong side of a drug lord. And it's up to me to get us all out of the country alive--even the annoying jerk with the green eyes who won't stop calling me "princess."

Oh yeah, what could possibly go wrong?



REVIEW

…when people think you hold all the power, they also think you hold the blame for everything.

Notable is the third book in the Awkward series. I’m completely new to Marni Bates’s writing and haven’t yet read the first two books in this series, but I’m happy to say I enjoyed every second of this excellent read! It can be read as a stand-alone, but references are often made to key point events in Chelsea’s past, and I felt I missed out on a lot of her history because I haven’t yet read the previous books, especially concerning her break-up with Logan and him subsequently dating YouTube sensation, MacKenzie. Still, on its own, Notable is a heartwarming read, and contrary to my initial impression from the synopsis, this was surprisingly different from the usual YA formula. Oh, and the Meg Cabot comparison is definitely spot-on.

There it was. The reason I felt like the crappiest human being on the planet. My teacher, the one adult who actually cared enough to try to discuss my feelings, was pummeled right in front of me, and all I’d managed to do was scream and run away.

Oh yeah, I was real brave.

It took a while for Chelsea to grow on me, but once I realized that she’s not the typical high-school YA cut-out I’m so accustomed to, but rather a scared, confused girl “fighting to preserve a fake image of perfection”,  I instantly warmed up to her.  Logan dumping Chelsea for the biggest geek-girl at school (to whom she’s frequently comparing herself), dealing with the aftermath of Jake-the-mistake, her fragile self-esteem constantly being tested by her mother’s negative remarks about her intelligence, and trying to survive her parents’ nasty divorce, has an enormous impact on Chelsea’s character; and her character growth is pivotal to the development of the plot. If I was asked to pick a theme-song for this book, it would be “Brave” by Sarah Bareilles.

Nobody thinks you’re stupid, Chelsea.

I nearly laughed out loud. “Do you really think I don’t know what people say about me? I’m a pretty girl-not a smart one.I shoved back a strand of red hair just so I would have something to do with my hands. “That’s a direct quote from my mom, by the way. They sort of have a point. I mean, I totally choked during my SAT test. And then my ex-boyfriend, Logan, dumped me for the smartest girl at school.

Don’t be mistaken. I’ve read lots of books where the teen protagonist had to face personal trials and tribulations to grow as a person, but the combination of Chelsea wearing a mask of self-assurance and indifference while the reader is made privy to her inner dialogue of insecurities, just made her more realistic and easily relatable. In Notable, Chelsea is continuously re-evaluating and reinventing herself, and by the end of the book I wanted to congratulate her on how far she had come. It just goes to show again how it’s best not to judge people on face value.

Mr. Sovann was in for a big surprise if he thought I would docilely await my death sentence. Maybe it was the young-high-school-girl thing I had going for me, but he was seriously underestimating just how much hell I could raise when cornered. A misconception I had every intention of using to my advantage.

I wasn’t going down without a fight.

Truthfully, I expected a little more excitement and faster pace from the story, but Chelsea’s character and her newfound friends with all their quirks made up for any action the story lacked. But what really won me over was the romance that was relatively subtle and well-paced, fitting into the story at the appropriate moments I expected it to happen, but without it being predictable. It was great to see the girl chasing the guy for a change, and the guy being the pursued stubborn love interest. I won’t tell you which of the two Chelsea has her sights on, of course.

I really liked all the main role players, with the exception of Chelsea’s mom. Notable also offers the reader an insider look at present-day Cambodia with its colorful tourist attractions, tuk tuks, and its people, yet compassionately and subtly addresses the plight of this mostly impoverished country; which – with its rampant drug trade - made it an ideal setting for this novel. The story ends on a high note and I’m seriously looking forward to reading the next book in this series, and I’d also love to read the first two books. Notable includes an awesome playlist at the end, with snarky commentary from Chelsea that made me smile. I truly enjoyed this book and Marni Bates secured herself a brand new fan!

*Quotes taken from the eARC I received for review.

  

This review forms part of my three-month participation in the NetGalley Knockout Challenge for 2013.

BOOKS in this SERIES

Click on the cover to read the description on Goodreads.

 


PURCHASE LINKS


ABOUT the AUTHOR

My autobiography MARNI (part of HCI's Louder Than Words series) was on the New York Public Library Stuff for the Teen Age 2010 List. I then signed a four book contract with KTeen. My first YA novel, AWKWARD, has been optioned by the Disney Channel as a made-for-TV movie and translated into Portuguese, Spanish, and Hungarian. 

In my free time I can be found reading romance novels, rollerblading, singing really loudly (and off-key) in public and watching copious amounts of television--strictly for artistic inspiration, of course.


AUTHOR LINKS

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