Tuesday 2 April 2013

You Against Me - Jenny Downham


Mikey McKenzie's sister, Karyn, has accused Tom Parker of raping her. Mikey is out to seek revenge for his sister. Ellie Parker, Tom's sister, only has one thought to defend her brother. Their paths soon cross and suddenly their lives can't stop going forward.


Did Tom Parker commit the crime? That's the question that readers hang onto until the final chapters of You Against Me. The novel pulls readers with it and doesn't let them go until it finally ends. That's how it felt like for me. You start off not knowing who is telling the truth - Karyn or Tom. Except the novel is narrated through Mikey and Ellie. Mikey creates the link of sympathy readers share for Karyn whilst Ellie almost demands readers to trust Tom. The sides you take shift as soon as the narrating perspective changes. It's hard not to feel sorry for Karyn, hiding from the outside world who judges her. It's hard to see Tom as guilty after hearing what he has done for Ellie ever since they were young.

Along side the mysterious case is the developing relationship between the two main characters. Yes, it was bound to happen. But it's not like you start the novel not knowing that Mikey and Ellie are bound to enter a relationship at some point. Their relationship actually adds to the depth of the novel. Their constant battle between loyalty to their family and the passion they feel for each other. Although Downham makes it out as love, during the time frame that the plot takes place in, it is not that realistic to really call it love. They are definitely drawn to each other, so I call it passion (and certain amounts of lust). Their relationship keeps readers interested as well, curious as to how it will end up.

Downham keeps readers on the edge, not leaving any hints to what really did happen.She has a knack of taking the most serious issues to create a plot that just stays with readers. The idea of rape may seem like it will be too much to handle but it is actually the opposite. It addresses the stereotype of low-socioeconomic families vs. middle/high class families and the idea that girls who wear certain revealing clothing are just "asking for it". There are a lot of family themes underlying the novel as well.

Jenny Downham is known for her previous novel, Before I Die, and so You Against Me carries a lot of expectations. Let me tell you now, they are quite different. It's not so much that one novel excels while the other is just average, it's just that from what I have heard, the anticipation really does make You Against Me a slight disappointment. I guess it's lucky that I do not remember much about Before I Die so I read this novel with a blank slate. It was truly an enjoying read, I went through it in one night. It definitely leaves readers emotionally overwhelmed though, which could be good or bad. I finished at 12AM and could not go to sleep until 2AM. You feel the sadness, the anger, the disappointment. It is actually all there.

There is so much more that I could say about this novel but if I had to have one complaint then the ending left me slightly unsatisfied. The question that circulates the novel is answered. Of course it is (otherwise I would've gone nuts) but it feels as though the novel started off high and led me through an intense ride only to drop off. Just a bit.

I would still recommend this novel though. Try it out, you fall to love Mikey. At least I hope you do, just like I did.

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