Nothing by Annie Barrows (212 pages)
Overview: Nothing is the story of two sophomore girls who think their lives are terribly boring but wish to write a book about it none the less. The story chronicles a bit of classroom antics, a few parties, an epic road trip to help one of the girl's brother get his girlfriend back, and a detour for the other girl to meet her mysterious online friend, Sid. While it's not true that "nothing" happens in their lives, the girls do spend plenty of time discussing this and stewing about how to make their lives more interesting. Overall: 2
Characters: 2 The two leads, Frankie and Charlotte each share different world views that have interesting cores, but are lost in the way the author chooses to reflect this. Frankie wants her life to suddenly become a whirlwind of interesting activity. Charlotte just wants to hold on to the reality she has and is terrified of losing her friends as they change. Unfortunately, they ultimately suffer from the writing as they, and all their friends, are written as absolutely flat stereotypes. But my greatest problem came with some of the side characters only mentioned by names like "OCD Lewis" to describe the weird kid which really trivializes mental illness, and I found this labeling upsetting and offensive.
Plot: 2 There seems to be no reason for anything that happens between skipping through one stereotypical "teenage" event to the next. There's also a fair amount of time that the girls spend complaining about their lives or other random, superficial things.
Writing: 2 Barrows committed the one writing sin that kills any YA book, she trivialized her audience. The book was filled with awkward sentences and obscene rambling and ruined grammar all, I guess, in the name of making the book seem like it was written by Charlotte. They were always texting their friends about stupid things and pulling together all the worst stereotypes.
Also, the running joke of the book was Frankie always making fun of Charlotte's "teen book" plots where Barrows seemed to make fun of YA lit and even some of the serious mental illness, self harm, and suicide topics these books can suffer. Though she probably meant no ill will, it rubbed me the wrong way and was upsetting.
Finally, beyond the content, I was continually confused about what was going on in the story. It was billed as the novel Charlotte wrote about her and her best friend's life. This was fine, even though the gossipy, forced "teenagerey" tone did not suit the idea of writing a novel, but my problem arose when there were odd chapters that came in from Frankie's point of view when Charlotte wasn't around with no warning or explanation. While Frankie's chapters were some of my favorite, it was still confusing to be thrown into a different POV inside of "novel" written by another character with no warning.