TEEN LIBRARIAN'S REVIEW:
I'm telling you, Net Galley is the bomb! Just this morning, I downloaded a copy of "The Oracle of Dating," which is a paperback from the Harlequin Teen folks that's due out in May. I blew threw this book in a few hours, and I have to say, I kinda loved it. It's like "Sex in the City" for high schoolers … only it's not in any way smutty. I know, a clean romance that's entertaining, sarcastic, and has actual personality. I was losing faith that such a thing existed in YA lit!
"The Oracle of Dating" isn't "War and Peace," so I don't feel the need to go into a heavy discussion of the characterization and themes and whatnot. And you know what? That's perfectly fine. There's a real need out there for engaging, witty, yet breezy books for teens that aren't filled with shallow references and anonymous sex, but that also aren't unrealistically chaste and artificial. I found "The Oracle of Dating" to strike the perfect balance between these two extremes. This is the kind of book that will be read by one girl and then passed along to her sister, best friend, cousin, etc., because it's FUN. Note to YA editors: Not every book has to be a depressing, hyperrealistic tome. Fun is always good!
So quick plot overview, just to entice you further. Kayla narrates the story, and she's the Oracle of the title. She runs a website and blog through which, for five bucks paid via Pay Pal, she gives relationship advice. The fact that Kayla's had two brief relationships in her sixteen years is irrelevant; she knows her stuff. Kayla is smart, cute, resourceful, and neurotic enough to seem real without being annoying. She's a clever girl who can arrange speed dating as a charity project but is still lame enough to be stuck ringing items at the world's sorriest grocery. She's got a cool, supportive crew of friends — who actually talk like teenagers! — and a crush on her art class partner, snarky new guy Jared. Kayla can't figure out if Jared is interested, uninterested, or, gah!, only wants to be friends, and her confusion is only heightened when he starts dating the most shallow girl in school. Yes, even the Oracle of Dating can find love difficult at times.
I absolutely ate up this light, amusing tale of romance and friendship. It's marginally set in Brooklyn, but the setting isn't much of a factor. Read it for a positive spin on girl friendship, for the spunky narrator, for some smoking sexual tension (hey, this is Harlequin, after all!) that doesn't cross the line, and, of course, for a tale of first love. If you get caught up in the story like I did, the "Oracle of Dating" is the first in a paperback series, with the sequel currently slated for November. Something else to look forward to! Until then, keep an eye out for "The Oracle of Dating" in May. Happy reading!
PS – Harlequin: I'm so not crazy about the cover, which seems to convey that this is some silly middle school novel. I know you can do better! 🙂