Friday, April 20, 2012

Ditched by Robin Mellom

Title: Ditched
Author: Robin Mellom
Publisher: Hyperion
Release Date: January 10, 2012
Pages: 288 pages (hardcover)
How I Got the Book: Bought it from a used bookstore
Purchase: Amazon; Barnes & Noble; Book Depository

High school senior Justina Griffith was never the girl who dreamed of going to prom. Designer dresses and strappy heels? Not her thing. So she never expected her best friend, Ian Clark, to ask her.

Ian, who always passed her the baseball bat handle first.
Ian, who knew exactly when she needed red licorice.
Ian, who promised her the most amazing night at prom.
And then ditched her.

Now, as the sun rises over her small town, and with only the help of some opinionated ladies at the 7-Eleven, Justina must piece together – stain by stain on her thrift-store dress – exactly how she ended up dateless. A three-legged Chihuahua was involved. Along with a demolition derby-ready Cadillac. And there was that incident at the tattoo parlor. Plus the flying leap from Brian Sontag’s moving car…

But to get the whole story, Justina will have to face the boy who ditched her. And discover if losing out at prom can ultimately lead to true love.


Maybe you do this too or maybe you don't, but I never go anywhere without at least two books: my focus and my fallback. Two came with me when I went about my day today: my fallback Ditched and my main novel Taken at Dusk. I decided to focus a little more on Ditched instead because I liked the first chapter and you know what? It turned out Ditched was the book I needed a fallback for. Wow. I thought it would be a fun, fluffy novel, not the astoundingly offensive book it turned out to be.

The one redeeming point of Ditched is that it is occasionally funny. Not I-shouldn't-be-laughing-at-this-but-I-am-anyway kind of funny, but genuinely funny enough to coax giggles out of me. It missed the opportunity for an awesome Violet Beauregarde joke about being a human blueberry, but in the first fifty pages, I found myself laughing the right kind of laughter multiple times.

After those first fifty pages, most of the book's attempts at comedy turn out to be grossly unfunny or blatantly offensive.

I despise Justina. There are multiple reasons why--her hypocrisy (discussed later in this review), a jealous streak that makes her engage in mind-boggling behavior --but this says it all: she wishes herpes on a girl named Allyson because she talks to Justina's date. More specifically, she wishes she had "Herpes In A Jar" to throw at Allyson, but it's basically the same thing.

Um... What? From what I've read, I think Justina is a social pariah less because she kissed a bunch of guys and more because she is a terrible person. I sure wouldn't speak to a girl who said "And the girls were looking a little too... sophisticated, to say it nicely. Slutty whores, to say it truthfully" (61) about other girls' prom dresses without describing them and wished herpes on others.

Calling a girl a slut because she kisses a lot of boys is wrong. Justina adequately gets this across when multiple people treat her badly or bully her because of her past digressions (though Justina herself has trouble supporting her own message by calling her love of kissing an "addiction" when it's not a problem, but I digress). I believe in that message whole-heartedly and seeing it get lost under nine tons of disgusting hypocrisy was not a fun experience. See, it's wrong for girls to call Justina a slut, but it's supposed to be oh so right if she calls them sluts. Sorry, but you can't have it both ways. This contributed to my dislike of Justina and was the largest strike against the novel.

What happened? The first chapter went so well, and other than the presence of a man-hater who wasn't as funny as she was meant to be, I enjoyed the in-between chapters where Justina told Gilda and Donna what happened. A great novel was ruined by offensive content and a terrible main character and I mourn the loss.

This is why Ditched is a DNF for me. I can only take so much. For a prom story that doesn't induce the urge to throw something, try Laurie Halse Anderson's Prom. I haven't read it myself, but some trusty friends have and they liked it enough, so I'll put my faith in them for that recommendation.

(I swear, I've been having such a bad spell with books lately and I'm ready for it to be over. The next book I'm reading got a perfect score from my favorite reviewers; if I don't love it... That's best left to the imagination.)

What am I reading next?: Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein