HarperCollins Children’s Books, July 2014
Tori Spring keeps to herself. She doesn’t show her emotions, except in her blog. She used to be more social, but things have changed. Then Michael Holden arrives at her school, insistent on getting to know Tori. Not that she cares. Not only does she have to deal with Michael, and with the reappearance of her old friend Lucas, but a new blog called Solitaire starts a series of practical jokes in her school that begin to take a darker side.
There is a lot to like about this book – the concept is very interesting, as is the inclusion of the blogging world and the pop culture references. I particularly enjoyed the parts about fanfiction, and who the various character’s in Tori’s group shipped. I think Solitaire’s greatest achievement is not in the main plot or the protagonist, but the character of Tori’s brother Charlie. He offers a rare portrayal in YA fiction of a young boy struggling with an eating disorder. His challenges with his mental health are handled in a sensitive manner; although this is somewhat at odds with some glib remarks made by Tori. Overall I feel this book had great ideas behind it, but perhaps it could have done with some more editing and rewriting, particularly towards the end. However, it was an interesting tale that gave a strong portrayal of teenage angst and cynicism, and offered an interesting exploration of the worlds of tumblr and blogging.
A strong and different debut, and a very promising start for teenage author Alice Oseman. I look forward to reading her next book!