Book Review: Shut Out
By: Kody Keplinger
Published By: Poppy
Publication Date: September 2011
Page Count: 273
Source: Purchased by Reviewer
Young Adult - Contemporary
Shut Out was a pretty good read with a fairly good plot that was written really well. I saw the romance plot coming a mile off though I'm afraid. Lissa starts off the story going out with Randy, the Quarterback, who ditches her at every opportunity to run off and instigate or retaliate to the soccer team's attempts to prank him. Randy is just too much of an oblivious fool... He is really dense about Lissa's feelings and she seems only patronisingly fond of him. His days were absolutely numbered, even before Lissa thinks up a "sex strike" to try and win back his attention and end the silly feud.
Cash, or the boy from the library (*swoon*) was my pick for romantic interest number 2 the minute he was mentioned. To be honest, it was the name that did it... Cash... It conjures up all kinds of suave mental images and it took me a while to get past it. (I find it really hard to understand why someone would name their child, or character, after money.) As a book lover, the idea of Lissa and Cash getting to know each other romantically between the stacks of books was... Rather good and I certainly appreciated the references to Atonement.
The football vs soccer team feud seemed relatively harmless until someone is injured and forced to sit the season out, and this is what prompts Lissa to group the girlfriends together and make life collectively hard for the guys, forcing Randy to make some interesting life choices. I had several feelings about this, storyline mainly along the lines of them being too young in the first place for this in high school (but that might be me being conservative). I felt like this story would have been better off in a college new adult setting, it just seemed a bit much for YA fiction. Too much swearing, references to casual sex, assuming everyone is sexually active... I really liked how the truth came out in a series of slumber parties though, which ended credibility to the plot.
In the end though, despite my feelings over the setting and predictability, I still gobbled this book up in a matter of hours. It was really well written, the characters drew me in, and I really cared how the story ended. I think there were good lessons about being truthful, considering how you really feel about becoming sexual, and the importance of communication. I just wouldn't want a younger reader, eager to read more of the very age-appropriate Kody Keplinger books The Duff and Lying Out Loud, to read this as it is far nearer the boarder line of YA and New Adult than the other books. I think Shut Out should have actually pushed into New Adult properly, switched setting and then it would be marvellously at home in the college years.
Most high school sports teams have rivalries with other schools. At Hamilton High, it's a civil war: the football team versus the soccer team. And for her part, Lissa is sick of it. Her quarterback boyfriend, Randy, is always ditching her to go pick a fight with the soccer team or to prank their locker room. And on three separate occasions Randy's car has been egged while he and Lissa were inside, making out. She is done competing with a bunch of sweaty boys for her own boyfriend's attention.
Lissa decides to end the rivalry once and for all: She and the other players' girlfriends go on a hookup strike. The boys won't get any action from them until the football and soccer teams make peace. What they don't count on is a new sort of rivalry: an impossible girls-against-boys showdown that hinges on who will cave to their libidos first. And Lissa never sees her own sexual tension with the leader of the boys, Cash Sterling, coming.