Monday, September 16, 2013

ARC Review: The F- It List

The F- It List by Julie Halpern
4/5 stars
Feiwel & Friends, 2013
248 pages
YA Contemporary
Scheduled to release November 12*

Source: Received an e-ARC via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Based on the title, I expected this book to exhibit a lot of attitude, which is true. However I had not looked closely at the cover or synopsis so I did not realize it was about a best friendship where one person gets cancer and the other helps her with her bucket list as renamed for the cover.

Becca and Alex have been friends for years. But when Alex's father dies and Becca does something hurtful to Alex in the aftermath, they take the summer off. When Alex walks into the first day of school, she anticipates resuming their relationship only to be thrown for a loop when she discovers that Becca has cancer. Immediately she jumps back into friendship as they go through a wild and crazy year, with Alex attempting to fulfill Becca's bucket list on her behalf.

As a long-time proponent of female friendship in YA books, I was drawn to this book's friendship angle as soon as I determined that it was part of the book. Becca and Alex have their ups and downs just like any real relationship but they also love each other, totally get each other's senses of humor, and put up with the good and the bad about each other (for example Alex is very droll and sarcastic while Becca can be a bit softer). This relationship is at the core of the book. But there is also the family relationships and romantic interests for both girls (yes Becca has a cute neighbor who can stop by). I knowing the family relationship was there though I felt they weren't explored as much as they could have been. Obviously Alex's family is in turmoil with her mother and younger twin brothers dealing with the loss of their husband/father to the best of their abilities while Becca's mother copes with the diagnosis by turning to God and her rabbi. Maybe I wasn't as pleased with the portrayal of Becca's mother's faith after reading a couple of books that more intimately explored the Jewish faith last week-this one felt more mocking than sympathetic in any way. Alex's family was mostly presented in the coping stage and were nowhere near as well-developed as Alex herself.

The romantic relationships were much more satisfying. Shortly after the cancer news breaks, Alex hooks up with Leo and their relationship took so many interesting twists and turns. The physical plays a huge role and I thought it was very well-written though the fact that it doesn't fade to black may be a turnoff to some readers. The emotional comes second as Alex takes forever to face the truth. Becca's love story gets less page time but it has some cute moments as well.

Overall: Not your typical cancer story with humorous moments far outweighing the sad though melancholy tinges every interaction. I was surprised by how much I laughed at Alex's snarky comments and her exchanges with Becca and co. I thought it was a surprisingly funny story and I hope you all will enjoy it.

Content warning: A lot of swearing and sexual exploits; tons of attitude; I would recommend this for the older YA audience.

Other Opinions:
Istyria Book Blog
Read, Run, Ramble
Readingjunky's Reading Roost
The Bookaholic Blurbs

*Sorry for the super early review but this was just archived on Netgalley; when books are archived early, they get reviewed early too-it's the only way I'll stay on top of things.

34 comments:

  1. If I remember correctly, friendships are a major theme in Into the Wild Nerd Yonder too. It is too bad that the family relationships were not explored as much in this one. I am surprised that it has more humor in it considering the heavy issues both girls are dealing with.

    I like the sound of this book though I don't know if I will like it as much as Into the Wild Nerd Yonder.

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    1. I was surprised by the humor as well but also really happy. I've read some cancer books that made me cry so much and this one didn't at all. I'm not sure if I liked this more than Into the Wild Nerd Yonder since I read that ages ago but I sure liked this one.

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  2. Love the title :) I'm not really big on cancer books, but I like that this book deals with a friendship rather than solely a romantic relationship. I may give it a try. Thanks for the review!

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    1. I love the attitude so much and think that it makes for a very attention-grabbing title. Plus it kind of warns you about the content in the book so those who don't like the title know to stay away.

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  3. Cancer stories are tough for me, but I'm definitely into books that are all about friendship.

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    1. The friendship was really cool to read and had such depth to it-I loved these two strong female personalities.

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  4. Your comment "Not your typical cancer story with humorous moments" reminds me of the book The Fault in Our Stars which tried to be funny despite the main characters dying.

    I really like reading sad, heartbreaking stories like The Sea of Tranquility, I just don't know why cancer books don't call to me! Am I heartless? Because i really didn't like The Fault in Our Stars either.

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    1. So TFIOS isn't funny? Good to know when I prepare to read it though I believe neither my mom nor my sister was much impressed with it so I was prepared for a slightly less than stellar book.

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  5. Oh, I forgot to mention, The F- list makes me think of that word, but could be The Future List, The Fail List, The Fan List... and so on. But why do I assume is the other F word? And that is what you though too, right!?

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    1. It is the f-word! It makes it rhyme with "bucket."

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  6. oh gosh I don't think I could do it/read it even if it does have plenty of humor. It would just make me too sad. You remember that scene in the hosp in Some Quiet Place...yah it just tore me up.

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    1. Humor is definitely one of the more prevalent things I noticed and I appreciated that leavening the sadness.

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  7. Wow, I had no idea that this was that type of book! At all. Even though it says it plainly on the cover, which I just looked at a little closer. I've never really had a problem with cancer books but I'm dealing with this right now with a parent, so I'm kind of trying to put my sickness-books on hold for a while. What I see here, though, is the exploration of friendship, which I love, and I love that the author is able to interject humor into what could otherwise be a very heavy and sad plot. This one is just not for me at this point in my life where I might otherwise normally pick it up, but I do like the concept and the summary, and I think that if I weren't dealing with this I would certainly give it a go. Great review. (:

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    1. Yeah, you should definitely stay away-I'm glad you know what kinds of books are going to work for you at this point and that I was able to warn you to stay away at this point.

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  8. I like that this isn't a terribly depressing novel. There can be humor and heart in cancer books!

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    1. I liked that it wasn't depressing too. I probably would have had to stop reading if it got too dark.

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  9. I think this is one book about cancer that I would pick up. Great review.

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    1. I hope you do and that you really enjoy it because I thought it was well-done.

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  10. Sounds totally up our alley! Yes, there are a lot of cancer books out there now -- but sadly, this is something more and more of us (teenaged or not) are dealing with in our lives. :( At least this book (like TFIOS) seems to bring some humor to the situation, and focus on something other than the disease/death angle.

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    1. I liked that so many other aspects were explored and it wasn't just a cancer book. Especially appreciated was the humor.

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  11. Aw, yay! So glad you loved it. <3 Ohh. Happy about no fade-to-black :D Cannot wait to read this one. Just need to take the time for it, sigh. Still, it sounds pretty amazing, and I'm glad you loved their friendship. <3

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    1. It doesn't come out until November so you still have loads of time. Looking forward to your thoughts!

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  12. This sounds really great actually. I like that there's humor so it's not so dark. I also like stories about friendship. Bucket List stories are always fun as well!

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    1. I love how the bucket list served as a framing device for the entire story-that's always interesting.

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  13. I read Don't Stop Now by the same author and I enjoyed it -- a very fun, quirky book. Hope to try this at some point!

    Thanks so much for stopping by! Jen @ YA Romantics

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    1. I still need to check that one out. I tend to like Halpern's writing so I bet I'd like that one too (plus your recommendations are gold.)

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  14. I liked the cover of this book when I first saw it... and the title, of course!
    But I had no idea what it was about. It sounds really, really good! Thanks for the review, I never thought about that!

    Lis @ The reader lines

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    1. Glad to give you a bit more information-hope you have a chance to read it!

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  15. I think I may have to reconsider reading this one. I was scared off by the whole BF dying of cancer thing. I can only handle that so much in the books I read. But I do love books that deal with a bucket list concept and studies of friendships between girls. Hmm. Must think on it....

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    1. I don't want to spoil things but I don't think you'll end up being too sad if that helps you to make up your mind.

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  16. I'm drawn to stories like this. Yours is the first review I've read and I'm pretty sure I'd like it.

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    1. I know-it's so early but it would have expired otherwise so glad to get my thoughts out there and get it on people's radar.

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  17. I have this book to read and I realize I have no idea what it is about. Now I kind of want to pick it up (I also never noticed that dock on the cover. I guess the title is super distracting ha). Cancer books can always be sort of up in the air for me. Sometimes I love them and other times I just think they are so over the top. Def. looking forward to getting to this one sooner rather than later.

    Great insights!

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    1. I think this one is pretty grounded even if the cover can be a bit cryptic. Hope you get to this one!

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