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Wednesday, May 4, 2011

This Girl is Different by JJ Johnson (review)


Genre:Young Adult
Publication Date  April 1st 2011 (Peachtree)
Pages:320
Where to get:Book Depository, Amazon,
Website:
JJ Johnson
This Girl is Different - Goodreads





     This girl is different… That’s what Evie has always told herself—and it’s true. Home-schooled by her counter culture mom, she’s decided to see what high school is like for the first time—for her senior year. And what a year it is.

As it turns out, it’s not just Evie who’s Different. Lots of people are. Many of her assumptions about others are turned on their heads as she makes friends with kids her own age for the first time, discovers what’s good and what’s bad about high school, and learns lessons about power and its abuse—both by the administration and by Evie herself.
(goodreads.com)



 "There's a saying: Just because no one complains doesn't mean all parachutes are perfect."
 "Heat floods my cheeks and toasts my ears. I manage to say, "You're sweet." Translation: you're amazing and smart and hilarious and you get me and even your hands are sexy and your carpentry skills are mind-blowing and you just called me beautiful..."



     This girl is Different is a debut YA novel by JJ Johnson. I got it in the mail just yesterday and was delighted with the way it looked. The cover art is beautiful, well-thought-out and it relates to the story inside in many ways. The texture of the dust cover and the way the pages are numbered are very unique and truly different from other YA books I've read so far.

     The heroin of this story, seventeen-year-old Evie, is anything but ordinary teenager. Being home schooled by her counterculture mother, she never really experienced how public schools work, never had to put herself out there and try to become part of society, never even had to pick up a textbook and study from it. She's different than other girls (and boys) her age, she doesn't wear make-up, she lives in perfect harmony with the surrounding nature, she draws snakes and other animals and she builds scale models of cities, communities, villages and buildings.  Evie and her mom seem to be very environmentally conscious, they get their electricity from solar panels, they grow their own vegetables, keep their own chickens and a cow, and they even bake their own bread at home.Their house is a geodesic Dome Home, which they built themselves. Obviously, not your typical American (or any other for that matter) family. Evie is a well-read girl with a strong moral spine and a pretty good idea of what she wants to do with her life. And what she wants right now is to get a first-hand experience with the Public School system, so she enrolls in a local high school for her senior year.

     Just when the school year is about to start, Evie goes for a hike in the nearby woods and sprains her ankle while trying to catch a snake. Stranded 5 miles deep into the wilderness and not being able to call for help, she's lucky enough to be found by two young hikers. Her "non-rescuers" (she does not perceive herself as a damsel in distress, and therefore does not feel the need to actually be rescued), are, as it turns out, her future school mates, Rajas and Jacinda. The three of them are very comfortable with each other from the very start and they quickly become close friends.

     But there's more to the story than just Evie's social experiment and her experiences at school. Things get more serious when our heroine witnesses teachers abusing their power and being unfair toward students. Evie being herself, she can't just ignore the social injustice and she takes it upon herself to do something to bring changes to her school. Together with Rajas and Jacinda they start PLUTO (People's Lightning to Undermine True Opposition), an anonymous organization, whose purpose is to fight for respect, freedom and student rights. To bring attention to the inequality in the school, PLUTOs post a lightning bolt on the person's door/locker, and then they discuss the reasons for being "stricken by the lightning" on PLUTO's blog. Unfortunately, despite PLUTO's best intentions, things quickly snowball out of control, as the lightning strikes are being posted no longer only by PLUTO members, and no longer only truly "deserving" people are being targeted. Things are about to go very, very wrong...


     This Girls is Different is an amazingly refreshing and unique read. It deals with some important issues, like social injustice, power abuse, bullying, teacher-student relationships, etc., and yet it doesn't have the heaviness and slowness one would expect from a book like that. I was immersed in the story from the very opening words and wasn't able to put this book down, until 320 pages later, when I hit the back cover. I literally swallowed the book in one bite and, even though I was perfectly satisfied with the way the story played out, I still found myself wanting more. More of the world seen through Evie's eyes, more of JJ's excellent writing style, more of the fantastic chemistry between Rajas and Evie, more, more, more!

     One of my favorite highlights of this book were the quotes at the beginning of every chapter. JJ Johnson did a great job picking them, they related to the chapters in a special way and made it so much more fun to read them.

     Honestly, I find it very hard to believe that what I just read was a debut novel. I look at some writers who have been writing for years now and they still have no hope of reaching JJ Johnson's level of writing skills. Her storytelling is superb! I have no doubt that I will be re-reading this book many times in the future. Books like this one make me want to add a sixth star to my five star rating system!



 

26 comments:

kathy said...

I like your review. I read this one and thought it was great. It's such an original book. I'm excited to see what she writes next. :)

cleemckenzie said...

I enjoyed reading the quotes you shared. Great review for the book.

Bonnie said...

Wow, with a review like that how could I not run out and buy it (or click really fast via. Book Depository!). This sounds like a fabulous read!

Diana said...

This book sounds amazing and it has very beautiful cover.The first quote is great!

florentine said...

sounds Great books.. I like about Evie character.. you describing her well, so I understand who is she,,
thanks so much..

Chey said...

I admit that the cover attracted me. And the main character has your name! If I came across a main character with the name Cheyenne, I think I'd be pretty excited. haha.

Leah Miller said...

This looks very interesting :) I've never heard of it. Thanks for letting me know. Now I must find it.

Jasprit said...

Great review, I've had this on my to-read pile a while now, looks like I'll have to get a copy soon! :)

Zakiya LadyWings said...

Awesome review :). I saw this one on Netgalley but it didn't get my attention that much. Will definitely look into it now!

SweetestLittleBookworm said...

I'm really drawn to this cover art. I keep reading the synopsis of the story, and it seems pretty good...but the cover art just seems especially neat to me.

Andra said...

I agree that the cover is really eye catching. It is what initially drew me to this review in the first place :) I really liked the second quote too...I tend to let my mouth leak words whenever a guy calls me pretty so...i can relate lol

Miss Lauren said...

When I first heard about this book, I didn't think I'd like it, so I just forgot about it. Looks like I was wrong! I hope it has a kindle copy because I want to read it now! :) Thanks for the review.

Hanna said...

Haha, I really like the parachute quote!

I'd heard about this book before, but this is the first time I've actually sat and read a review. On to the wishlist it goes! :)

Paper Cut Reviewer said...

I saw this book and fell in love with the cover. Then I read what it was about and OMG it seems to good to be true, lol! Now that I read your review and I know I just gotta get me a copy already. Thanks for the push;)

Steph

Janinay said...

This is kinda shallow but I found it a bit funny that you have the same name as the character. :D

Asenath said...

Huh, another book I haven't heard of to add to my TBR pile. I love the cover, and I'm exciting for the poetic writing!

aurora M. said...

Sometimes it is OK to be different. Thanks fir the review and I will check this book out.

Krystal said...

I always wanted to be home-schooled. Evie sounds like a cool character, though her mom...

Rachel Bohlin said...

I think if everyone was the same that'd be no fun, but i requested this on Netgalley I'm hopeing I'll be approves!! :D

Yvonne said...

Great review. Just added this to my TBR list :)

iLuvReadingTooMuch said...

LOVED this book :) JJ Johnson is an amazing writer! Great review :D

Brandileigh2003 (Blkosiner's Book Blog) said...

It really was a unique story line and a different kind of MC. I enjoyed too.

Munnaza said...

I loved this book! The cover attracted me to it immediately, and then the protagonist and the story itself kept me reading. I couldn't put the book down at all! Awesome review! You really captured exactly the way I felt when I read it.

Enbrethiliel said...

+JMJ+

It is a unique read! Just when I was (slightly) worried it would be another Paranormal . . . ;-)

I'm very sympathetic to parents who homeschool and I love the way many homeschooled children I know can think out of the box. The high school setting seems to be a convention of YA literature (although, given how often the protagonists can cut classes as they please, this is just authors falling back on what they know), so I'd be glad to try a book that sees high school with different eyes.

Fenny Wong said...

Unique storyline! Nice review, will make sure to check it out next time I go to Kinokuniya. ^^

Jaime Lester said...

I LOVE this cover. It is amazing. I really love this cover. And the book itself sounds really good. Based on your fantastic review, it is really good. I hadn't heard of it before now, and I am so glad that you reviewed it. This one is definitely getting added to the already mountainous TBR!

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