Eighteen-year-old Tally is absolutely sure of everything: her genius, the love of her adoptive family, the loyalty of her best friend, Shane, and her future career as a Nobel prize-winning astronomer. There’s no room in her tidy world for heartbreak or uncertainty—or the charismatic, troubled mother who abandoned her soon after she was born. But when a sudden discovery upends her fiercely ordered world, Tally sets out on an unexpected quest to seek out the reclusive musician who may hold the key to her past—and instead finds Maddy, an enigmatic and beautiful girl who will unlock the door to her future. The deeper she falls in love with Maddy, the more Tally begins to realize that the universe is bigger—and more complicated—than she ever imagined. Can Tally face the truth about her family—and find her way home in time to save herself from its consequences?
Worldbuilding: The world of About a Girl was an interesting mix of mainly contemporary with some mythology elements (and a nice connection to Ovid’s Metamorphoses). I have to admit I found the mythology elements to contemporary ratio a bit odd, with the mythological concentrated in the last part of the novel and only becoming an element starting somewhere about half of the novel, if not later. I would have liked that ratio to be different, I think, and differently distributed.
Characters: Tally was an interesting mix of annoyingly pretentious, too rambling at times, and yet oddly charming when talking about scientific passions, and very funny and snarky here and there. I’m not sure I liked her, though I believe many of us can relate to the “I’m surrounded by stupider people than me” situation, lol. She came off a bit full of herself instead of quirky-genius-mode, but as the story progressed I got a better sense of the why. It still didn’t endear her to me, though. Nothing actually did. Perhaps it was her voice that kept me from getting emotionally involved in her story, and not her personality. But I wasn’t emotionally invested in her happiness, anyway.
I will mention though that I seriously loved her “family unit”, the diversity of it, the diversity of her love interests (a trans boy, a mythical kickass girl/woman, lol). And I totally loved her talking about science. And her being a feminist. So while I didn’t love her, I admired and liked her for sure.
I loved how she evolved throughout the story and I liked the person she was at the end better than the one when we got started, so the bildungsroman was a total success.
Plot: The quest arc, common in mythology, though faint here (both the mythology, and the quest scenario), could have been more exciting if more focused upon. As it was, the read had a very slow pace, even for me, and I tend to dislike agitated action. This is obviously a matter of personal taste, as all opinions are, but it would have been a much more interesting read for me had the focus been more on the actual quest than the romantic blundering about or Tally’s ramblings (mostly present in the first chapter, her voice got less rambling as the novel progressed). The story was interesting as a concept, and it could have been awesome as far as I’m concerned. The ending is quite open though the quest scenario is resolved. I won’t explain how it’s open, since that might spoil your read, but I’ll just say there’s a reason I didn’t label this a romance, lol. Nothing tragic, don’t worry. Just…open, lol. You’ll either love or hate that, I guess.
Writing: First person, past tense narrative, Tally’s POV. I found Tally’s voice to be somewhat monotone, irritating at times (especially in the first chapter), but there were bits I really loved too (especially her talking about science). The narrative might be a bit pretentious for some, sluggish action-wise and perhaps tough to follow at times due to syntax.
Curb Appeal: Really awesome cover, hooking blurb – a good candidate for my YA LGBTQ cravings.
I haven’t read the other novels in the series, but I will hazard a guess that Ovid’s Metamorphoses is a common element (not an overpowering one though) as well as the mythological elements, apart from some of the characters. I’m not sure how much mythology is involved in the first two novels, and maybe had I read them first I would have felt differently about this third one. As a lover of paranormal/fantasy/mythology/even sci-fi rather than contemporary or historical fiction, it’s easy to see why I feel the way I do. Especially since there was so, so, so much potential for amazeballs here, imo.
But About a Girl is definitely an interesting read, original both in approach and concept execution. Big, big like for originality and diversity as well.
I recommend it to lovers of complex main characters rather than lovers of action though, to lovers of extrapolation, in a sense, rather than teen romance or even quest scenario fans. So I’d say I recommend it to lovers of the literary genre, bildungsroman in particular, rather than commercial fiction, in fact. And I don’t find myself saying that often 🙂
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