Wednesday, March 12, 2014

NOVELLA REVIEW: "Turning 16" by Perie Wolford


Turning 16 (Turning 16, #1)
Turning 16 by Perie Wolford
(Turning 16 #1)

Goodreads -- Amazon
Author Website

For Ages 14+ (Language, Minor Sensuality)
Young Adult -- Contemporary

Self-Published -- February 20, 2014
Ebook, 190 pages
Received from Author

THEMES
First Person Narrative, Love Triangle, Unrequited Love

SUMMARY
Sam never liked his birthdays because not a single one of them was happy... When he turned 1, he fell face-down into his birthday cake; when he turned 5, he broke his left arm and when he turned 7, he broke his right arm and his left leg; when he turned 12, his house caught fire. Now Sam is about to turn 16 and he is dreading the day. The only birthday wish he has is for Jake who is the Mr. Popular of Arcadia High to even acknowledge his existence, or better yet give him a happy-birthday kiss. But Sam knows that it’s not gonna happen. Or is it?

Disclaimer: The plot of the books substantially varies from the John Hughes movies and all the references to the movies are made as a tribute to their awesomeness.



FIRST LINE
"The year is 1985."

MY THOUGHTS
Turning 16 caught my eye because of the eighties theme and the fact that it is set in high school which is not the most common setting for m/m romance.  I am a huge fan of John Hughes movies especially Sixteen Candles so I found this to be a sweet and entertaining homage to that film genre.  

The entire story was told from the point of view of Sam, a sixteen year old boy who suffers from a 'birthday curse.'  He strongly believes that his birthday will never be happy and, if something can go wrong on that, it will.  For example, he broke his arm at age 5 and then his house tried to burn down on his 12th birthday.  So, it stands to reason that he is not exactly looking forward to his sixteenth birthday.  At first it seems like this one will follow this pattern with unexpected visits from his annoying relatives and the fact that he can't seem to get close to the boy he has had a crush on for years, Jake Ryan.  But, then, things start to take a turn for the better and Sam learns some pretty unexpected things.

I really liked Sam and how interesting his insights into high school were.  He is a very sensitive boy who is very aware of pop culture, but is hopelessly oblivious when it comes to personal issues like love.  The depiction of a sixteen year old gay teenager in the 1980s is not the easiest thing to write and I thought Wolford did an admirable job.  The voice did have some juvenile moments though I though it worked well for this particular story.  The descriptions (especially of the school and its social structure) were a little long-winded, but that can easily be fixed with a bit more editing.

The premise of the birthday curse was really creative and I liked how it moved the story line along.  I also liked the love triangle that seemed to matriculate with Jake Ryan, Sam, and someone I won't name in order to avoid spoilers.  I'm not usually a fan of love triangles, but I thought it worked for this type of story and the high school setting.  Overall, while this book was not perfect, I did enjoy myself and am excited to see how Wolford develops Sam's character in the sequel, Turning 17.

I received a free copy of this book from the author, Perie Wolford, in exchange for an honest review.

3 STARS

STEAM LEVEL
Blush -- Kisses with no/minor touching.

BOOKS IN THE SERIES
1. Turning 16
2. Turning 17 (Coming 2014)

CHALLENGES READ FOR



 

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