Sunday, 7 October 2012

On Puppies, Marshmallows and How To Write YA: A Review

As far as feel-good reads go, it doesn’t get much more puppies and marshmallows than What A Boy Wants, by Nyrae Dawn. I’ll admit it’s been a while since I was given my copy for review, but thinking back I remember nothing but fun, entertainment, and enough fangirling over the main character to make even my teenage sister puke, so I’ll do my best to do it justice here today.

Firstly the plot had a classic happy ending storyline, and although I thought I had it all figured out in the first chapter (which, I confess, did irritate me), Nyrae went on to throw in enough obstacles and diversions to keep me second-guessing myself right to one of the cutest finales I’ve ever read. And once we were on that home straight, I couldn’t help thinking, as a writer, that it was a perfect example of how to pull the story threads together so that nothing’s left undone.

I also have to commend Nyrae on the creation of Sebastian, a boy so real I now understand the blogs with the badge ‘what would Sebastian say?’, as I could completely imagine asking him that myself. The voice used to portray him is believable, funny and sensitive, and it was a pleasure to spend time with a real character and his real friends. Part of me wished for a few more complexities in the supporting cast but at the end of the day they’re just normal teenagers, and as it’s a YA novel, that’s exactly what they should be.

Being of that genre I expected the book to be rich in morals and themes and it certainly was, but nothing ever felt too obvious. The concepts of friendship, loyalty, love and maturity (including alcohol-induced immaturity) were nicely dealt with, by showing actions and consequences without delving into a lecture about them. Normally I’d groan at another teen drinking scene, for example, but I was too enthralled by Sebastian’s point of view of the scene to be bothered. And judging from the number of highlighted phrases in my kindle copy, I wasn’t the only one who appreciated the messages and thought them worth pointing out.

The editing, too, blended nicely into the background to tie things together, and as a result the storyline flowed without a hitch. I have a tendency to go all “Ms. Trunchbull” on bad editing but as I didn’t throw a single child out of the window by their pony-tails, it shows Nyrae and her editor did an excellent job.

Overall, I’d recommend the book to anyone looking for a bit of light-hearted fun from their next read. I’d also suggest it for YA writers in particular, not only because of what I’ve mentioned here but also because the opening pages had me wishing I was an agent so I could discover the book for myself, since Nyrae so effectively hooked me on a unique character with a fascinating story to tell. My rating: 8/10


  1. This sounds right up my alley. Now i can't wait to read it. :) Thanks for the recommendation!!