It has been an incredibly long time ever since my last post and my last book review in general. This is due in part to simple laziness, school work, ending high school, beginning college, forgetting ideas for posts, and simply getting distracted by other things. However, one book that I recently finished has given me some food for thought. I do not know if I will continue to make book review posts in the future, but it is a possibility. As long as a book gives me plenty of things to write about, I would like to discuss it.
Joyride by Anna Banks:
“A popular guy and a shy girl with a secret become unlikely accomplices for midnight pranking, and are soon in over their heads—with the law and with each other—in this sparkling standalone from NYT-bestselling author Anna Banks.
It’s been years since Carly Vega’s parents were deported. She lives with her brother, studies hard, and works at a convenience store to contribute to getting her parents back from Mexico.
Arden Moss used to be the star quarterback at school. He dated popular blondes and had fun with his older sister, Amber. But now Amber’s dead, and Arden blames his father, the town sheriff who wouldn’t acknowledge Amber’s mental illness. Arden refuses to fulfill whatever his conservative father expects.
All Carly wants is to stay under the radar and do what her family expects. All Arden wants is to NOT do what his family expects. When their paths cross, they each realize they’ve been living according to others. Carly and Arden’s journey toward their true hearts—and one another—is funny, romantic, and sometimes harsh.”
Joyride first came out in July. It is the fourth book by Anna Banks, and her first standalone novel. At the time of this writing, I do not believe that a sequel has been announced. You may recognize the author’s name from the crew of the How To Train Your Dragon film series.
I was pleasantly surprised by Joyride. Initially, the description made me leery, as it sounded like a typical story where two teenagers from different backgrounds fall in love, despite clashing cultures and personalities. I admit, I am growing very tired of those types of realistic fiction books, as they tend to be, for lack of a better term, boring. Joyride is anything but boring. Right from the second sentence, Mrs. Banks demonstrates a knack for writing humorous dialogue and thought processes, as well as a compelling protagonist. In addition, several important topics for teenagers are addressed throughout the book, such as illegal immigration, racism, white privilege, and low-income families. Additionally, it is nice to read a YA book that features a female protagonist who is a person of color.
On the negative side, the book is told from a dual perspective. Alternating chapters will feature Carly’s point of view in the first person, and then Arden’s point of view in the third person. The difference in literary angles is mostly likely meant to avoid confusing Arden and Carly’s speaking styles, but that problem could be solved by having their names above the chapter, as commonly shown in other books. This difference in outlook also makes Arden’s chapters seem more stilted in comparison, although that could be attributed to his character.
Secondly, I am not entirely convinced that the pair would fall in love, based on several of Arden’s actions. To name a fraction of his exploits, he holds up a convenience store at gunpoint, stalks several characters, forcibly grabs Arden, and insults Carly in front of multiple people, albeit accidentally. He seems like a more likable and kindhearted character after they inevitably get together, but this could stem from Carly’s chapters now being written from the altered point of view of being attracted to him.
Lastly, some of the stereotypical gender roles in the novel irk me. At one point, Carly observes that Arden’s coffeemaker is mostly likely owned by his mother, as it’s not appropriate for someone as “manly” as him. Granted, given an earlier comment about the alleged manliness of drinking only black coffee, that may have been intended as humorous, but it still annoyed me.
Overally, I would recommend Joyride. The good points just barely outweigh the flaws, owing to the relevant social issues, humor, and diversity.
Sources: “Joyride.” Goodreads. Goodreads Inc, n.d. Web. 02 Nov. 2015. <https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/22718685-joyride>.
Banks, Anna. Joyride. New York: Feiwel & Friends, 2015. Print.