Google+ Reading Teen: GIRL DEFECTIVE by Simmone Howell {Review}

Saturday, September 20, 2014

GIRL DEFECTIVE by Simmone Howell {Review}

Review my Books Review by Meghann @ Becoming Books

Title: Girl Defective
Author: Simmone Howell
Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers, imprint of Simon and Schuster
Genre: Young Adult Fiction - Contemporary
Release Date: September 2, 2014
Source: Review copy provided by the publisher, opinions are honest and my own.
In the tradition of High Fidelity and Empire Records, this is the literary soundtrack to Skylark Martin’s strange, mysterious, and extraordinary summer.

This is the story of a wild girl and a ghost girl; a boy who knew nothing and a boy who thought he knew everything.

It’s a story about Skylark Martin, who lives with her father and brother in a vintage record shop and is trying to find her place in the world. It’s about ten-year-old Super Agent Gully and his case of a lifetime. And about beautiful, reckless, sharp-as-knives Nancy. It’s about tragi-hot Luke, and just-plain-tragic Mia Casey. It’s about the dark underbelly of a curious neighborhood. It’s about summer, and weirdness, and mystery, and music.

And it’s about life and death and grief and romance. All the good stuff. 
Hey Readaholics! Today we have a review from the awesome Meghann from Becoming Books! This book looked so interesting to me, so I was exctited to read her thoughts! Check out what she had to say and let us know what you think! (~andye)

Thanks to Andye for allowing me to be a guest reviewer on Reading Teen! Feel free to check me out over at my regular spot, Becoming Books

Ooo Australian, Teen High Fidelity...

Skylark, ahem... Sky Martin and her brother Seagull, ahem... Gully live above a record shop their father runs. Named after birds and armed with abandonment, rock music and restlessness they team up to solve St. Kilda's mysteries.

Sky and Gully both escape from the realities of their neglect to investigate a local girl who drowned, Mia, and a mysterious vandal of their record shop. Dad drowns his miseries in beer while mom has skipped the country to be an entertainer. Reminiscent of real life each character is battling their own identity issues tied to the past and the impending future.

There's a girl and there's a boy...

Sky's friends are limited and focus on Nancy an older teen/twenty-something who has no known roots and a few aliases. Channeling a hippy vibe, Nancy leads Sky to parties and unleashes maternal chats while exposing her to the harsh realities of living without consequence. Nancy plays substitute mom with a Penny Lane (a la Almost Famous) kind of flare.

Luke enter's the story during Sky's search for solutions and her father's search for help at the shop. In the beginning Sky has no interest in him but Luke's redeeming qualities are far from romantic. Their interactions are awkward and sometimes hilariously painful to watch. However, it's Luke's brooding pain that makes him interesting and his desire to move forward that brings him and Sky together.

I really like Luke's character and not because he's this brooding, artistic mystery boy. Although, that's nice but because he doesn't let all the Martin family dysfunction scare him off. His bond with Gully, even mid-meltdown, brings about feels.

It started slow...

but the music and dysfunction drew me in. If you're looking for a clear plot point, don't. Let the character development, darkness and the whimsical sadness act as your focal point. I have to admit I really wanted to know where we were going but I eventually got it and just let go.

The music is the beginning and end, and I can respect that. Music is powerful whether it be a vinyl record or mixtape it's always personal. I stopped along the way to visit YouTube for the songs referenced.

It's the connections I built to the characters that got me to the end but a stronger plot would've left me gripping my seat.

The gritty darkness was something...

Sky's nontraditional relationship with her dad allows her to roam around town unchecked which evolves into the exploration of Mia's death and the local music scene. For me there were definitely moments where the scene culture rang true, loud and clear. The scene is a place where innocence is lost and, when the sun comes up, there's no place to hide.

There's this idea that Sky needs to find "her people" and I think it's the darker tones that allow for the silver scarf to be pulled off. At some point the predictable unveilings feel like a Saturday morning PSA but it doesn't make it any less significant.

These characters have stayed with me...

I cannot shake Nancy and Gully from my head! There are feels involved here and I'm happy with how it all shakes out but it was a bumpy road. Simmone Howell really takes her time building these characters. Exploring their flaws, cracks, and coping mechanisms to tighten up my emotional investment. This is what made Girl Defective for me.

You'll like this if...

If you enjoy books about music, mysteries and darker contemps. Character development over plot. Similar in writing style and story to the novels Perks of a Wallflower and High Fidelity.
3 Pieces - Find a record you would trade your house for... everyone deserves an anthem. 


This novel contains the big three... drugs, sex and rock 'n' roll with a side of profanity. I don't have kids but if I did this would be a discussion read.

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