Release Date: 31st July 2014
Edition: UK paperback, purchased
‘I don’t ever remember not being serious. As far as I’m concerned, I came out of the womb spouting cynicism and wishing for rain.’
My name is Tori Spring. I like to sleep and I like to blog. Last year I had friends. Things were very different, I guess, but that’s all over now.
Now there’s Solitaire. And Michael Holden.
I don’t know what Solitaire are trying to do. And I don’t care about Michael Holden. I really don’t.
There has been a buzz around Solitaire since Alice Oseman was signed at the ripe old’ age of eighteen, and then as proofs started appearing, the love for Tori started flooding in. Now I totally get why.
This novel is clearly written by a teenager, but not in the way of childish prose, immaturity of ideas or a naive outlook; Solitaire is an authentic view into the world of a British teenager. Tori is a complete internet person. She blogs (Tumblr, from what I gathered), browses the internet aimlessly, talks about fandoms and references Harry Potter. Tori is dark, angsty and lost and I felt that seep through every page.
The vaguery of the synopsis leaves very, very little suggestion as to what Solitaire actually is, and I was pleasantly surprised. A secret organisation pulling pranks on the school to deliver a message, but also feeling very personal to Tori, was a really cool idea. The mystery kept me turning the pages furiously, accidentally reading 100 pages in one hurried gulp during my lunch break.
Solitaire’s pranks and Tori’s mental state built steadily towards an explosion at the story progressed. I felt the tension get taughter and taughter until it was poised to blow at any second and I couldn’t stop reading. Oseman sensitively and honestly details Tori’s journey to a nervous breakdown, and she didn’t stop there with the exploration of mental illness. Tori’s younger brother Charlie, much like the Charlie of The Perks of Being a Wallflower in my opinion, struggles with depression, self-harm and eating disorders. Everything is tackled with compassion and candour and I think that this will make Solitaire strike a chord with teenagers across the country. Oseman nailed the struggles of teenage life, and the highs too.
Solitaire is an incredibly strong debut from a talented new author and I’m genuinely excited to see what Alice Oseman delivers in the future.