Book Review: Solitaire

By: Alice Oseman
Published by: HarperTeen
Release date: March 30, 2015
Genre: YA contemporary
368 pages
Source: ARC kindly provided by publisher

I picked this book up because I really like hunting for exciting debut authors, and the blurb sounded really promising- especially the mentions of John Green and Rainbow Rowell. Whoever wrote that blurb really should have left out the mentions of those two writers, since this book bears very little resemblance to their work. While I have a few complaints about Solitaire, I was not wholly disappointed.

One of the book’s strengths was the overall concept. A girl in her late teens, dealing with the aftermath of a sibling’s major life event while also coming to terms with changes in her own social circle, is presented with the enigmatic Solitaire. It sounds very realistic, honest, and engrossing. The difficulty is that the main character suffers from depression, which makes her very difficult for most readers to relate to. She lacks emotional attachment or reaction to most things, so her narration presents as rather boring. Again, the concept sounds really great, but in execution, the first person narration falls flat.

The character’s background, and that of her brother, are lacking adequate explanation. Tori mentions more than once that things are not the same as they once were- it’s evident in the change in her relationship with her best friend- yet what exactly is different is never clearly defined. This reader took that her depressive state may have stemmed from her brother’s food issues, which doesn’t make a lot of sense. Perhaps the author could have made this aspect more clear if she’d chosen a different narrator.

The whole mystery of what Solitaire is, and who is behind it, is a fun plot thread. Solitaire organizes several major events and pranks, all of which liven things up around the perpetually disinterested Tori.  Solitaire is revealed in the end, and Tori learns that she’s misjudged several people- including herself. The organization and its shenanigans are one of my favorite parts of the book.

Michael Holden is interesting as a character, but even more so as a plot thread. Tori has heard certain things about him, and learns more about him through her own observations and feelings. For this aspect of the book, the first-person narration by a depressed character works favorably. Tori’s lens makes for a more interesting viewpoint from which to get to know Michael.

Tori’s dad is the one character I wish we’d gotten to know better. He’s a book nerd, especially with classic literature. I imagine that most avid readers would have loved to see Tori and her crew through his eyes. 


In case you're wondering, this is not a love story.

My name is Tori Spring. I like to sleep and I like to blog. Last year – before all that stuff with Charlie and before I had to face the harsh realities of A-Levels and university applications and the fact that one day I really will have to start talking to people – 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.

This incredible debut novel by outstanding young author Alice Oseman is perfect for fans of John Green, Rainbow Rowell and all unflinchingly honest writers.


  1. 3 out of 5 isn't bad for a debut author though... great review!

    1. Thanks, Freda. I genuinely value your comments. :)


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