Solitaire by Alice Oseman
Genre: Contemporary, Romance, Mystery
Published by: Harper Collins
Where to Find: Goodreads | Amazon
This. Book. Was. Incredible.
If you have no idea what to read, but want something incredibly REAL then you need to pick up Solitaire straight away, because it will have you on the edge of your seat and probably spread-eagle on your bed contemplating your life. This book was a true gem and it really deserves so much more hype than it’s received. I absolutely loved it, and I can imagine myself re-reading this again and again, it really has become one of my favourites. Here’s why:
The characters are all so incredibly dynamic and complex, and I would like to read a book from each of their perspectives, please. Tori Spring is our protagonist she is a chronic-pessimist, a lover of running away, and isn’t very good with people. Finally! A character I can relate to! But, in all seriousness, she really made me think introspectively about my life and my friends and my mental health. Her narration is the perfect mix of sarcastic and just plain truthful, so much so that sometimes it was hard to read, because I couldn’t help but put myself in her position. I think the most important thing that I took away from this book was the importance of friendship. Tori goes through a lot of trial and tribulations when it comes to making friends and understanding people, and the ending of the book really shows that no matter how good it feels to be alone, it’s a heck of a lot better to have people who support you.
Michael Holden is the ‘love interest’, I suppose, but this time the cover doesn’t lie. Solitaire is not really a love story, it’s more of an exposé into the trauma that is teenagehood. Both Michael and Tori have flaws, heck just about everyone in this novel does, and by the end of their story they come to terms with them, or are able to identify them in the very least. There is not one insufferably perfect character in this whole book, and that is partly what made it so enjoyable, because it didn’t feel fictional. It really didn’t.
The minor/secondary characters are almost equally as important as the main characters, which I really love in a book. I loved Charlie and Nick and I even liked Becky! The character development really was spectacular. It’s one of those books that you probably do have to read a second time to appreciate all the subtleties in the characters’ relationships. All I can say is: I didn’t see the ending coming.
The sixth form/secondary school/small town setting was really well executed; I really liked how the setting was utterly grounded in reality. It was so great for it to be set in the UK as well, it made it even more relatable. The majority of the contemporaries I read are written by American authors, so I was really enthusiastic to read something written by a UK author. Also, Alice Oseman is only 20 so she’s writing from true and fresh teenage experiences. Tori’s analysis of teenagers today is so relevant to now it’s comical. The dialogue is believable and even when the characters get deep it doesn’t sound pretentious.
Solitaire was not what I was expecting. I loved the mystery element, because it was well planned and not predictable in the slightest sense. There was a real mix of emotions as the mystery behind Michael, Charlie, Ben, Solitaire and even Tori herself, unravelled. I think the only thing that I wanted that didn’t happen was for Tori to face her fears more, but realistically people don’t change over night, and Tori stayed true to herself even whilst she was beginning to understand her flaws.
I literally didn’t want to put this book down. It’s by far one of the best books I’ve ever read, and I’m proud to give it a 5 star rating. 10/10. Would recommend.
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