Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Review: Twisted by Laurie Halse Anderson

Title: Twisted
Author: Laurie Halse Anderson
Genre: YA Contemporary Fiction
Publisher: Viking Juvenile
Length: 250 pages
Original Publishing Date: March 20th, 2007
Series: Standalone
Where I got it: Audiobook from the e-library
Links: Goodreads Amazon Author's Website

Synopsis from Goodreads: 
High school senior Tyler Miller used to be the kind of guy who faded into the background—average student, average looks, average dysfunctional family. But since he got busted for doing graffiti on the school, and spent the summer doing outdoor work to pay for it, he stands out like you wouldn’t believe. His new physique attracts the attention of queen bee Bethany Milbury, who just so happens to be his father’s boss’s daughter, the sister of his biggest enemy—and Tyler’s secret crush. And that sets off a string of events and changes that have Tyler questioning his place in the school, in his family, and in the world.

In Twisted, the acclaimed Laurie Halse Anderson tackles a very controversial subject: what it means to be a man today. Fans and new readers alike will be captured by Tyler’s pitch perfect, funny voice, the surprising narrative arc, and the thoughtful moral dilemmas that are at the heart of all of the author’s award-winning, widely read work.

Main characters: 5/5

Tyler steals the show in Twisted. He is an incredibly realistic male main character, one that I related to and connected with, despite the fact that I have no experience being a nerdy-turned-hot boy. Anderson catches Tyler in the midst of his transformation: nerd into troublemaker, geeky into hot. And yet, Tyler breaks through all of these stereotypes, because we can see who he really is and that contradicts all of the labels and the gossip that seeks to define him.

Anderson particularly succeeds in her description of Tyler's descent and the way that he struggles day to day with decisions, stress and emotions. His gradual breakdown is so well-done because the reader follows Tyler's train of thought, and suddenly we are with him in that darkness.

Secondary characters: 2.5/5

Bethany could have been a lot flatter a character than she was. That's not necessarily a compliment. She wasn't complex. Maybe it's because we see her through Tyler's point of view and don't get her own opinions and thoughts. Still, I was looking for more from her, because Bethany is such a crucial character in creating conflict in this story.

Tyler's parents, on the other hand, were intriguing. I hated them both at different times, but I also felt for them a lot. You could see the roads that were taken to get them to their paths, even though you didn't know their entire backstory. 

Writing style: 4/5

Anderson's writing is smooth. That's how I would describe it. Smooth, and with a strong lead voice. By smooth, I mean that there is little jarring or jolting. I was thoroughly entrenched in the story, and it moved along at a pretty good clip. And Tyler's voice was terrific. He was darkly funny and entertaining, but also realistically sweet and sensitive at times. My only negative is that the pacing and story starts to slide in the middle, but picks up steam toward the end. There wasn't a lot more to ask for from Anderson's writing style.

Plot: 3.5/5 
The thing about Anderson's novels is that they're entirely simple (at least, the ones I have read). There is one conflict and there is the after-effect of it. So really, the plot is rather thin. Instead, the plot is more character driven. There's nothing wrong with that. In fact, it really works in the case of Twisted. Because that one conflict leads to another conflict which leads to another conflict and suddenly we're so deep in this mess alongside Tyler. I think it is this lack of substantial "plot" however, which lends to a dragging middle section. I'm not expecting action packed thriller, but I think some added happenings would have helped out that middle.

Ending: 4/5

The ending has a lot of conflict packed into a punch. Tyler goes through a lot of emotional things in a few short hours, and it's really hard-hitting. His confrontations with his parents, and himself, are intense and moving.

Best scene: Tyler's confrontation with his dad

Reminded Me Of: Speak (obviously) meets The Beginning of Everything (the narrative voice, at least)

Positives: Tyler, realism, the intensity of the conflict and ending

Negatives: Bethany (I wanted more complexity), a dragging middle, maybe too easy an ending for the hardships that happened

Cover: Meh. Doesn't do it for me.

A fabulous male narrative voice makes Twisted intense and heartbreaking 

Rating:  7.6 / 10 (4 stars)

Your Thoughts: Have you read it? What did you think? If you haven't, will you be adding it to your TBR list? Let me know!

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