I really liked it.
The main character, Atlanta Burns, has a fresh, honest voice (read: filthy mouth), pondering racism, flipping the essay paper bird at teachers, and becoming a vigilante to the young and bullied.
The story is fast paced, a little heart wrenching, and a lot violent.
The world is visceral with sounds and scents, but I was pulled out in few places:
At times I felt the masculine handwriting in the female point of view: not in the actions or emotions of the (seventeen-year-old?) girl, but in the parts where the violence is focused on breasts. I got the feeling that the author was trying to substitute a boy’s testicular aggression with boobs, and it didn’t ring true for me.
Perhaps I am just too protective of my own.
I also got tripped up in the editing once in a while; one bad auto-correct moment -“symbol” instead of “cymbal”- jerked the momentum of a hot action sequence to a dead halt.
What does ring clear and loud is the absolute strength of identity that teenagers have, and the reality that the world they live in sucks. Atlanta Burns has her own mind and a hard ego, and she acts on it. She controls the relationship with her mother; no punches pulled there. We watch her explore drug use without the ubiquitous lesson-teaching crash-and-burn.
I have to wonder if, in an age where the public seems crippled by its fear of offending anyone, this book could be published by a major publisher.
Kind of a shame, really, because the teens who would really identify with the main character probably don’t have access to a Kindle or iPod. And I know a sh’load of kids who could use a use a kick-ass heroine right now, and an author who understands that life isn’t Glee and roses.