Friday, September 2, 2011

Shut Out by Kody Keplinger

Shut Out
Kody Keplinger
Publisher: Poppy
Released: September 5, 2011
Genre: Contemporary
Pages: 273
Source: BEA
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.

Inspired by Aristophanes' play Lysistrata, critically acclaimed author of The Duff (Designated Ugly Fat Friend) Kody Keplinger adds her own trademark humor in this fresh take on modern teenage romance, rivalry and sexuality.
So here's the thing about Kody Keplinger: I fucking love her.

Normally I try to keep my language family-friendly, but if you can't handle an f-bomb or two, you may not be able to handle Kody. Personally, she had me at page one of her first novel, The DUFF. So when I had the chance to meet her at Teen Author Carnival in New York, I was majorly stoked. She's incredibly smart and funny, and it's hard to believe she's only twenty years old. I was incredibly excited to see her again at BEA and got a signed ARC of her new title.

Keplinger's sophomore novel, Shut Out, reads much like her first. Although Lissa is much milder in manner, she is much like Bianca (and Kody herself) in that she is a feminist. When she feels snubbed by her boyfriend of more than a year, she knows she must put an end to the rivalry that keeps stealing his attention. She rounds up girls from both sides of the fight, and together they go on a sex strike: no making out, no fooling around, and absolutely no sex until the soccer guys and the football guys put an end to their stupid rivalry. Shouldn't take more than two weeks, right?

Even though the football girls and the soccer girls never mingled before, they find solace in each other during the strike. They go to one another for advice, actually talk about sex, and learn a lot about themselves in the process. They realize that it's okay to talk about sex. It's okay to like it or not like it. It's okay to not have it. Many of the girls are very self-conscious, but when they open up to one another they realize it's okay to be different.

In this novel, Keplinger tackles the very taboo subject of teenage sex in a realistic way. Never remotely preachy, she talks about the reality of what really goes on without ever condemning or condoning it. I expect she earns the respect of teen readers; she's sure earned mine. She's also earned top spot for the "Best-Writer-of-Hot-Contemp-Guy" Award. DUFF fans, you thought Wesley was hot? Meet Cash, a soccer playing, star gazing, library working senior who just might have the hots for Lissa. You should read it to find out ;)

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