20 September 2013

Goodbye, Rebel Blue

Author: Shelley Coriell
Series: stand-alone (takes place in the same school as Welcome, Caller, This is Chloe)
Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult
Publisher: Amulet Books
Released: 1 October 2013
Summary: courtesy of goodreads.com Rebecca Blue is a rebel with an attitude whose life is changed by a chance encounter with a soon-to-be dead girl. Rebel (as she’s known) decides to complete the dead girl’s bucket list to prove that choice, not chance, controls her fate. In doing so, she unexpectedly opens her mind and heart to a world she once dismissed—a world of friendships, family, and faith. With a shaken sense of self, she must reevaluate her loner philosophy—particularly when she falls for Nate, the golden boy do-gooder who never looks out for himself. Perfect for fans of Jay Asher’s blockbuster hit Thirteen Reasons Why, Coriell’s second novel features her sharp, engaging voice along with realistic drama and unforgettable characters
My Review:  It is not a secret that I was a big fan of Shelley Coriell novel Welcome, Caller, This is Chloe, but I had some reservations going in to Goodbye, Rebel Blue.  I’m not sure why, but based on the summary it seemed like this had been a little “overdone”.  My faith was wavering when it shouldn’t have.  Seriously.  Shelley Coriell reminds of Sarah Dessen in a big way.  Sarah Dessen, for me, is the master.  It’s her books that got me interested in young adult literature, and I’m SO PLEASED to find in a world where paranormal/dystopian/action/adventure/romance/fantasy books reign supreme, that we still have authors like Shelley Coriell who can approach contemporary young adult with so much heart. 
This book isn’t as simple as “completing the bucket list of a dead girl” it’s about a girl discovering who she is.  Similar with Chloe (the protagonist in Coriell’s previous novel) I wasn’t a huge fan of Rebecca “Rebel” Blue.  She was self-centered and rude to the people around her, and pushes people away unnecessarily.  But then I remember high school, and what it’s like to be a teenager, and how nothing feels more real then when you’re seventeen.  Coriell perfectly captures what it’s like to grow up with a deep desire to be yourself even when it seems like everyone is telling you to join the crowd.  I loved the fact that Rebel was a true blue loner, and embraced this.  I think there are a lot of people in the world who embrace the loneliness.
I also loved how crafted this story was.  There aren’t a lot of YA novels where I finish them and feel like the author is a master of their craft (though admittedly there have been more than usual lately).  I feel like Coriell, however, is a master of hers.  The pacing in this book is wonderful and real.  There isn’t any insta-love or instant character changes, I never felt betrayed by the author trying to speed through “boring” bits quickly to get to the “actual” story.  Rebel goes on a journey, and we as a reader take it with her. 
The thing I love about contemporary young adult fiction is the journey you take with the characters through a world real and true.  I adored how Coriell approached the family in this novel, lately YA novels seem to steer clear of any type of family life, but the family portrayed in Goodbye, Rebel Blue though not perfect, was heartbreakingly honest.  The characterizations in Goodbye, Rebel Blue are also what made this novel completely engrossing for me.  The issues Rebel is having, and the issues of the other teens in this novel are sophisticated and real.  Some of the conversations – especially between Pen and Rebel and Macey and Rebel – felt verbatim to conversations I had with friends in high school.  Shelley Coriell is able to perfectly capture the journey a person takes when they start to question and discover who they are at a young age.  Not only that, this character didn’t change completely – by the end of the novel she is still Rebel Blue, a completely unique and lovable character in a completely fantastic book.  I definitely would recommend this to any fans of Sarah Dessen and Morgan Matson.

Endnote: this novel reminded me more (atmospherically) of Amy and Roger's Epic Detour (Morgan Matson), Paper Towns (John Green) and any Sarah Dessen novel than it did of Thirteen Reasons Why (Jay Asher) like it says in the blurb - though admittedly the basic concepts of this novel and Asher's are the same.

This reviewer would like to thank NetGalley and Amulet books for a copy of this eARC in exchange for an honest review.

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