The Exact Opposite of Okay by Laura Steven (2018)
YA Fiction | Contemporary
“Eighteen-year-old Izzy O’Neill knows exactly who she is—a loyal friend, an aspiring comedian, and a person who believes that milk shakes and Reese’s peanut butter cups are major food groups. But after she’s caught in a compromising position with the son of a politician, it seems like everyone around her is eager to give her a new label: slut.
Izzy is certain that the whole thing will blow over and she can get back to worrying about how she doesn’t reciprocate her best friend Danny’s feelings for her and wondering how she is ever going to find a way out of their small town. Only it doesn’t.
And while she’s used to laughing her way out of any situation, as she finds herself first the center of high school gossip and then in the middle of a national scandal, it’s hard even for her to find humor in the situation.
Izzy may be determined not to let anyone else define who she is, but that proves easier said than done when it seems like everyone has something to say about her.”
pooled ink Review:
Was it funny? Sometimes. Was it profound? Occasionally. Was it cliché? Is any book without such comforts? Did I enjoy it? Overall.
I was excited about the comedy, bracing for the Hell I knew was coming for poor Izzy, and now that I’ve finished it I can’t wait to discuss it at book club. But here’s my review:
I liked it…and Izzy definitely had all the makings of a great comedian because she was funny, really funny and snarky and sarcastic but…sometimes it was a bit too much. Ya know? Like you don’t have to be funny every sentence that exits your mouth or thought that forms in your brain. She was funny but a book is longer and deeper than a Netflix Stand-up Comedy Special and therefore I gotta admit it got to be a bit annoying sometimes lol. Also while some of her one-liners had me cackling, others just missed the mark for me (but hey, not everyone’s brand of comedy works for every audience so whatever).
Lacking all eloquent ability to state exactly why, I can only say that I somehow wanted more from this book. I loved the comedy angle, I loved that it tackled real issues and laid out some tough social commentary, but for me I just…well, like I said, I dunno but it was missing something.
The hellish storm that hits the fan was horrible, no doubt. It’s wrong, biased, sexist, cruel, and just plain horrible. So while I am 98% enraged by society, I wouldn’t be writing an honest review if I didn’t also confess that the other 2% of me was a bit like “And that’s why you never trust the internet”. Hey, I already said how horrible and unjustified what happens to Izzy is so don’t you dare accuse me of victim blaming because I am not, I’m just saying that anything you text, snap, search, or post, you’ve got to be okay with the whole world knowing about it. Are the chances of that happening wildly slim? Yeah, of course, because most of us are total nobodies and who really cares? But just like Izzy thought she was a nobody, it can happen. Take no chances. Stop and think. Don’t be a damn idiot. Lives are built and lives are destroyed by the tiniest thing dredged from the ancient files of the internet and no, teenagers are not somehow magically immune.
We all make mistakes, whether pre-meditated or impulsive, but a) you know how the world is and b) you know that the internet is forever. The world is not a very kind place and yeah it sucks and yeah we wish it wasn’t that way, but the fact remains that it is and when you do something stupid be ready in case the world jumps on it like a vulture to feast. Fight back, push for change, be the change against such pathetic human behavior, but also, you knew the stakes and that the world has no mercy when you did whatever you did (and unfortunately the internet makes everything worse, magnifying your natural teenage whimsy and giving it a permanent file).
Did Izzy deserve what happened to her? NO SHE DID NOT. It’s disgusting what happened to her. But also what dummy sends some guy she barely knows a nude photo? I hate it and it sucks but that’s life. (Ugh why does it have to be though?? Bleh.). It is not her fault that some pathetic excuse for a human being did what they did to her, but it’s always important to realize that all actions have consequences (even very disgusting unfair ones).
Oh I did like how the book brings up the flaws with “Nice Guys”. A seriously overlooked issue with society. But, well, I think when it comes to feminism, unconscious/unintended sexism, and related bullying, The Female of the Species by Mindy McGinnis hits the mark a bit better. It’s too easy to be judgmental and flood our writing with our own opinions, which is what happened with this book, while McGinnis managed to explore the issue by taking a step back and without such biased judgment bleeding from the narrative. I dunno, everyone has their preferences and despite my love of comedy I just don’t think this book quite vibed with me overall. Still, it’s worth checking out.
The Exact Opposite of Okay is chock full of sarcastic one-liners, a feisty unapologetic female lead, and the traditional teenage hellhole called High School. Tackling the darker side to life in the 21st Century and troubling societal issues with an entertaining zest of humor to battle the heavy themes, this is a book you will likely either love or dismiss. Bold, contemporary, and funny, it takes a traumatic situation and airs it under a fresh light.
Purchase Here: The Exact Opposite of Okay
Similar Reads: The Female of the Species by Mindy McGinnis
Meet Laura Steven!
Laura Steven is an author, journalist and screenwriter from the northernmost town in England. The Exact Opposite of Okay, her YA debut, was published by Egmont in March 2018. The sequel, A Girl Called Shameless, will follow in 2019.
As well as mentoring aspiring authors through schemes like Pitch Wars, Laura works for Mslexia, a non-profit organisation supporting women writers. She graduated with Distinction from her MA in Creative Writing in 2017, and her TV pilot Clickbait – a mockumentary about journalists at a viral news agency – was a finalist in British Comedy’s 2016 Sitcom Mission.