Monday, 7 January 2013
Review: None of the Regular Rules by Erin Downing
Format: Kindle e-book
Released: November 2012
The weekend before the start of senior year, Sophie Erickson and her best friends, Ella and Grace, discover a handwritten list of dares tucked away in the glove compartment of Sophie's beat-up old Toyota. But this isn't just any list; it's a dead girl's bucket list. Sophie's beloved aunt Suzy died as a teenager in a fatal fall, leaving Sophie with an overly cautious family, a few fading photographs, and a bucket of bolts that barely passes for a car. But now, Sophie has Suzy's list of the things she wanted to do in her last year of high school. Sophie can't help but wonder: What would happen if she tried to fulfill Suzy's last wishes, to live out the longed-for life of her aunt, her hero? As Sophie and her friends attempt to knock off the things on Suzy's list of dares, love blossoms in unexpected places and Sophie begins to feel that her life is finally coming together...when in fact, everything is slowly unraveling around her. When the truth about a long-held family secret threatens to shatter everything she believed to be true, Sophie is forced to question everything she knew about the life and people she believed in, and ultimately herself.
None of the Regular Rules, published on Kindle only, is the second Erin Downing book I've read, and I enjoyed this one just as much as Kiss It. Erin has a sharpness to her writing that instantly makes me like her main characters, in this case Sophie, Ella and Grace. This friendly trio reminded me of the girls from Ann Brashares' Sisterhood series: loyal, forgiving and BFFs forever.The love interest, Johnny Rush and his handy lawnmower, played a great part and sucked me straight into the story. If there's a YA romance, I'm all over it!
The whole book revolves around quite an unusual concept, and one that I haven't seen overdone in other YA novels. Sophie finds a bucket list of her aunt's, who sadly died ten years earlier when she was only eighteen, Sophie's age now. Sophie was close to her and, with the help of Ella and Grace, decides to complete Aunt Suzy's list before her own looming graduation. These tasks include jumping off cliff edges, borrowing motorbikes and kissing X. I really liked this idea and the thought of stepping over boundaries and doing something new and daring. I'm basically the least daring person in real life so didn't relate as much as I wanted to, though maybe one day I might!
None of the Regular Rules is a book about growing up and learning who your friends are, living for now and taking chances. It's also about the lasting power of friendship and admitting when you're wrong in order to move forward. These are things I can relate to, and I completely understood where Sophie was coming from when she and her friends started to separate. Sophie, Ella and Grace's personalities were all so different that they occasionally clashed, and to me that was the most interesting part of the story. And the sweet romance too, of course! I could have done with more of Johnny Rush and his porn star name though, when it came down to it, I appreciated that he wasn't the focus of the story.
This is the kind of YA book that leaves you with a feel-good feeling of hope for the future. By mixing a sad story with a story of growing up, Erin Downing has created a compulsive read with memorable characters who embody a little bit of each of us somewhere down the line. I enjoyed it and am looking forward to more from Erin in the future!