Thursday, September 8, 2011

Review: Shut Out by Kody Keplinger & Giveaway

Release Date: September 5, 2011
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Poppy
Buy: Amazon | Barnes & Nobleicon

Lissa Daniels is tired of coming in second to her quarterback boyfriend's pointless feud with the school soccer team -- and she's not alone. After being abandoned in favor of the feud one too many times, the football and soccer girlfriends of Hamilton High have had enough. The girls need the upper hand if this war is ever going to end, and what better way to gain the advantage than to take away the one thing their boyfriends will do anything for: Sex. Unfortunately, the boys aren't going down without a fight, and Lissa finds her loyalties unexpectedly tested in the face of her history with the boys' leader, Cash Sterling. But what begins as a battle strategy soon tailspins into an all-out war of seduction, deception and desire.

In her sophomore novel, Kody Keplinger once again brings the unflinching honesty and authentic teen voice that made The DUFF such a phenomenal read. Lissa is a complex character, full of insecurities and compulsions, but still strong and determined to stand her ground. Ever since her mother died, Lissa has become a bit of a control freak, trying to keep her older brother and paralyzed father safe. She has a tendency to be a nervous wreck, but calms herself through counting -- the minutes, the seconds, her breaths, the ceiling tiles -- you name it. Though at times I wished she would speak her mind more forcefully, Lissa's quirks and eccentricities bring her character to life.

The greatest thing about Keplinger's novels is that they feature healthy female friendships. Of course there are the catty girls so ubiquitous in the genre, but there are also loyal, smart and strong girls who stand by the heroine's side. Boys are not the beginning and end of their universe -- especially in Shut Out. Though this is a story of boys versus girls, the focus is on the female bonds that form from the chaos. The eclectic group that comes together to end the ridiculous feud ranges the spectrum of teenage experience, and the diversity with which Keplinger depicts even the minor girls in this group is remarkable.

The most dazzling character is by far Chloe. Chloe is Lissa's best friend, though the two girls couldn't be more different. While Lissa is somewhat neurotic, introverted and obsessed with organization and order, Chloe is wild and carefree, unafraid to be herself and tell it like it is. Their relationship is hilarious, and the back and forth banter will remind readers of their own best friends, the kind of comfort that only comes from profound trust. The two girls bring out the best in each other. Lissa's former best friend Ellen, another shining example of loyalty, is also fabulous in her own way. Less ostentatious than Chloe, she's intelligent and mature, as well as compassionate and forgiving. Even the mean girl turns out to have her own crosses to bear, while the seemingly shy and naive junior has the healthiest relationship of them all.

On the other hand, a more careful depiction of the male characters would have rounded out the novel. While the female population is treated with insight and attention, the boys came across as universally unenlightened -- except for Cash. Though at times readers are as confused by his motives as Lissa, they can't help but be disarmed by his easy manners and winning charm. Keplinger's portrayal of the exhiliration and bewilderment of flirtation will resonate with anyone who has experienced the mistakes and uncertainty that plague budding romance. There is no love-at-first-sight for these two; they have to work hard for their moment -- a moment that has already slipped through their fingers once before.

Shut Out treats sensitive social issues with class, but though I completely agree with the author's viewpoint, at times the commentary became preachy. The message of the story can easily be inferred from the narrative action, without the additional moralizing. Nonetheless, Shut Out is a heartfelt tale of self-discovery, an open dialogue about the often taboo subject of sex, and a critical illustration of the damage social stereotypes and normative codes can wreak on the human mind.


Disclosure: I received an ARC of this novel at BEA for an honest review.

ARC Giveaway

Thanks to a goody bag from the Teen Author Carnival, I have an extra ARC of Shut Out by Kody Keplinger for one lucky reader!

To Enter:
  • Leave a thoughtful comment on this review (i.e. prove to me that you read it)
  • Include your email address so I can contact the winner
  • +1 for sharing this giveaway (via Twitter, Facebook, etc -- must leave a direct link in your comment)
  • Following is not required, but greatly appreciated (FYI, I will be having a big giveaway when I reach 1500 *hint*)
  • US/Canada Only (I have several international giveaways coming up soon!)
  • Ends 9/16/11 at 11:59 pm EST
  • One winner will be chosen via
  • Please review my giveaway policy

Good luck!


Lauren M said...

You know, I didn't even think about the boys! But you're right--they weren't nearly as prominent or developed as the girls; they were just kind of a group of nameless faces to me.
I'm glad you enjoyed Shut Out! I really loved the relationships between the girls, too. :)
(Don't enter me for the giveaway; I already have a copy.)

Angeli said...

I love Lysistrata (it was one of the first Greek plays I read as a child, despite the mature subject matter ^_^) so I have really high hopes for this novel. I'm glad that friendship is valued and that Keplinger illustrates the different kinds of relationships fairly.

Thank you for the thoughtful review and giveaway!

angelidgcruz at gmail dot com

Andra said...

I really need to get my hands on Shut Out. I loved The Duff, and this review makes me want to read it that much more. I am excited to read about the friendships that bud between the girls. I am sick and tired of cliche cut-out characters of the bitchy cheerleader, the goth girl, etc. Chloe, Lissa, and Ellen all sound like girls I wanna read about.

Great review and thanks so much for the chance to win!

andralynn7 @ gmail DOT com

JerbyJu said...

Thanks for the chance to win a copy of this book!

I really like books with strong friendships in it. That's one thing I like about John Green books, though his are more male centric and I can't wait to read one with great female friendships displayed.

I'd also like more books where guys aren't the center of girls universe and she gets all pathetic because of a guy. So it's nice that boys aren't the center of the universe in this book.

jmab528 at yahoo dot com

LindsayWrites said...

thanks for the giveaway! I read the review, and it looks great. maybe the boys were disconnected b/c the author is a girl? lol

americangirlie1991 at yahoo dot com

Jenna said...

I never read Kody's debut, so I had no idea her novels featured strong female friendships. Female friendships (real one's, at least) are always lacking in YA novels in my opinion. I am now even more excited to pick up both of her novels. Thanks for the review!


Manda said...
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Manda said...
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Manda said...

Wow, this sounds nothing like what I was expecting from the title & cover. Sounds better actually! I loove best friend banter. :) That would probably make this book for me. And thank goodness, I'm getting so tired of love at first sight with prince charming books. It never works that way in real life, and books like that are probably why I have these impossible standards for boys! haha. Great review, I really really wanna read some Kody Keplinger now. :)

liforda at yahoo dot com


Tayte5 said...

Okay, first, the book sounds awesome. And second, interesting plot. Did you, or someone you know, do this? I mean, sure, it's a good idea, but i've never heard of something like this being done ever! Can't wait to read it.

Casey (The Bookish Type) said...

@Lauren -- Exactly! I can remember a handful of names, but nothing very particular about them lol.

@Angeli -- Haha wow! I can't imagine reading the play that young =)

@Andra -- Absolutely, Chloe, Lissa and Ellen are all girls I would be friends with =) I loved the DUFF too! I hope you enjoy Shut Out!

@JerbyJu -- I definitely need to read some John Green! I'm ashamed I haven't yet, even though I own several of his books.

@LindsayWrites -- Idk, I think female authors can write boys just as male authors can write girls. Look at Brenna Yovanoff's The Replacement, the alternating POVs in Blood Magic and The Wolves of Mercy Falls, or Scott Westerfeld's Uglies series =)

@Jenna -- I DEFINITELY recommend reading The DUFF! It was amazing =)

@Manda -- Definitely, friendship is just as important to portray as romance! It seems like so many authors forget that.

@Tayte5 -- Lol, I don't know if anyone's done this in real life, but Shut Out is loosely based on the Greek play Lysistrata about a group of women who go on a sex strike to stop a war =)

Good luck everyone!!

25kati said...

I'm glad you enjoyed the book. I loved loved loved The Duff by Kody Keplinger. I can't wait to read this one!

Klearboredom @

Krystal said...!/Icecream1891/status/111951512728649730 tweeted

Krystal said...

GFC Krystal Larson edysicecreamlover18@gmailDOTcom Thank you for the great giveaway, would love to read this for my own blog!

Misty said...

You know, I think this is the first positive review I've read of this. Everyone seemed to be really let down by it, and I was surprised since everyone seemed to like The Duff so much.
I was looking forward to it before because I'm intrigued by the fact that it's based on Lysistrata, but if I wasn't intrigued before, this would have got me:
"they feature healthy female friendships. Of course there are the catty girls so ubiquitous in the genre..."

The cattiness is why I have never been attracted to contemp YA, so the fact that there are GOOD female relationships in this = win.

I am a follower, of course, and I retweeted your tweet (!/The_BookishType/status/111653308707508224)

mbradenwf AT

Lindsay said...

Thanks for the giveaway :)
& wow Chloe sounds hilarious and exactly like my best friend. Its funny how opposites attract in friendship. Although Cash Sterling sounds very sexy. I'm so excited to read and find out for myself. I'm interested to read from Lissa's pov because her personality seems to mesh two different people so that'll be cool to know. And I'm happy to know there's a book out there where the girls aren't afraid to face the girls. Anyways, great review :)

lindsaydevine at bellsouth dot net

Michelle @ Book Briefs said...

Boys v. girls! So fun! I wish there was no cattiness between girls, but unfortunately there is a lot. I'm glad they focus on good relationships.

chelle2006 @ aol .com

Im a GFC follower


Anonymous said...

I LOVE the fact that the school is Hamilton High. There is a Hamilton High School where I grew up!
Thanks for this review. The DUFF has been on my wishlist for a while so this is motivation to read both of them.
Thanks for the opportunity!
-Carly Waid

I'm a GFC follower. (Carly W.)

Vivien said...

I feel bad. I have The DUFF sitting on my TBR shelf. I must get on that! I love reading tabboo subjects. It's always great to read someone else's pov on the subject matter. I love the internal debate.
+1 spread here
GFC follower

deadtossedwaves at gmail dot com

Shanon said...

I recently just finished this book as well, and I loved it. You're review was fantastic, very well written! Happy reading! =)

Shanon said...

And by "you're", I meant "your"....oops. =D

Books For All! said...

I'm always looking for YA books with a nice friendship between the characters. =)
Please enter me! Thanks for hosting a giveaway!!/safetydancee/status/111979196099723264


Sophia said...

Am I the only person who hasn't read either of Kody's books yet? Haha, I've heard only the best about them! It's a fresh breath of air to find a YA book with strong female friendships, instead of the backstabbing, drama starting ones that are common in the books I read. Also, I'm interested in the way Kody takes on the subject of sex without being too crude or anything. Chloe definitely sounds like a fun character! This whole book sounds fantastic. Thanks for the giveaway and awesome review. :)


candice said...

I love books that have large a supporting cast. Sounds like Shut Out has just that. Hopefully all kinds of girls can connect with this book, since there is that spectrum, not just the pretty girl. And Yeah for no love-at-first-sight, its always better when you have to work for something!

Does anyone think the cover looks like Liv Tyler?

GFC: Candice
candicerjames [at] gmail [dot] com

Khyla said...

Thank you so much for the giveaway!
ok this review got me so psyched to read shut out because i do agree that The Duff was phenomenal read. This book from Kody is jus as great and omg i love love how she picks the name of the guys first Wesley Rush and now Cash Sterling :)



throuthehaze said...

I loved The DUFF and can't wait to read Shut Out! Just based on your review I can already tell I will find a strong connection to these characters. Chloe sounds like a lot of my friends and it also sounds like I share some traits with Lissa (neurotic and introverted lol).

throuthehaze at gmail dot com

Jan von Harz said...

Although I loved Keplinger's writing in The Duff, I was a bit put off with the sexual aspect of this book. Shut Out sounds like it might be just the opposite. I am impressed with Kelinger's originality of story and I love strong female relationships, which based on your description of Lissa and her best friend seems as if this book has that in spades. A wonderful review and one that has me wanting to check this one out for myself.

Thanks for the chance to win this one too.

IandSsmom said...

Well most teenage boys that I've known have been "universally unenlightened". I'm curious that all these GF's are going to hold out on sex to BF's in H.S. I'm assuming these are upper classes not freshman but, and not to sound totally prudish (which I'm not) I wonder if it is giving the impression that you have to have sex to be in a BF/GF relationship! I really want to read this book now! I do love YA books and I'm certainly out of the YA age group (alot) but I wish sex wasn't just thrown around as a given and was given a little more consideration. Ok I'm really, really not as prudish as this all came off!!! :) I'm very much excited to read this book!
GFC Shannon Johnson!/IandSsmom/status/112152188914122752

IandSsmom said...

oh and the orange cat in my pic's name is Chloe!!! :)

Anonymous said...

Thanks for inviting me for the giveaway on Goodreads! This books sounds interesting; I wasn't sure until you commented on the strong female relationships and Chloe's carefree and wild character. It's not the type of book I typically read, but judging from your review, I think it's worth checking out.

I tweeted:!/lexisjen/status/112156229404598273


Thanks again!

Lisa said...

Thanks for the giveaway lisapeters at yahoo dot com thanks

Casey (The Bookish Type) said...

@25kati -- I loved the DUFF too! I hope you enjoy this one just as much =)

@Misty -- I have to say The DUFF is still my favorite, but this one is in true Keplinger style as well. The cattiness makes me CRAZY too! So Chloe/Lissa's friendship was definitely the highlight of the book for me.

@Lindsay -- I'm so jealous of your Chloe-esque best friend! =D

@Michelle -- Yeah, but I swear I didn't go to school with any girls as bad as the ones portrayed in YA lit. Idk if authors just went to really bad schools or what! Lol!

@Carly -- I definitely recommend reading The DUFF if you haven't! I was blown away by how good it was.

@Vivien -- I hope you get to read The DUFF soon!

@Shanon -- Yay! Have you also read The DUFF?

@Books for All -- Me too! There need to be more friendships in YA =)

@Sophia -- Yes, that's what surprised me most about The DUFF. Even though it is ostensibly about casual sex, it's done so tactfully and maturely.

@candice -- This book definitely has a large cast! I hope you enjoy the girls as much as I did =)

@Khyla -- Ha, I hadn't thought about that but they do have pretty fabulous names =)

@throuthehaze -- Haha I think that's why I loved Lissa so much. She's more OCD than I am! Lol!

@Jan von Harz -- Sex is talked about a lot, but no one is actually having it so maybe this book will be better for you? I hope so!

@IandSsmom -- Yes, the girls are all seniors except for one junior, I think. Actually, the book is trying to REFUTE the assumption that you have to have sex. There are several virgins among the girls' group, and the novel discusses that aspect of sexuality just as much as the rest. The point of the book is to open a dialogue and dispel the idea that there is any such thing as "normal" when it comes to sex.

@blackbirdbookreviews -- That was how I felt when I first heard about The DUFF, but then I read it and became an instant Keplinger fan! I hope you enjoy this book even if it's different from your usual fare =)

Shanon said...

Yes, I have read The Duff and it is definitely one of my favorite books! =)

Erica said...

I loved this one - I thought the idea was so much fun and I can't wait to read The Duff now :) (Don't enter me though, I have a copy) :)

Vicky said...

Sounds like a promising read. I am eager to read more about the relationships between the girls. So many times stories use that as a chance for conflict. It will be nice to see a some healthy, supportive connections between the girls.

Thanks for the chance at the giveaway!

Shooting Stars Mag said...

I really loved The Duff, and would love to read this one. That's kind of a bummer that more of the guys weren't as well-rounded, but I guess that happens when so many of the other characters (the girls in this one, it seems) are.

lauren51990 at aol dot com

Darlene said...

I haven't read any of Keplinger's novels, but I'm glad to hear that they feature healthy female friendships! Please enter me in the draw, and thanks for the giveaway!

darlenesbooknook at gmail dot com

Darlene said...

+1 for tweeting:!/DarleneBookNook/status/113614854148997120

darlenesbooknook at gmail dot com

Chey said...

Very interesting. This character seems like the type I'd love reading about, especially since she's usually a nervous wreck and the fact that she calms herself by counting. I've lost a parent as well so I know how difficult it is to deal and how you may feel as if you need to take over control because the one thing you didn't have control over happened so unexpectedly.

Thanks for the giveaway! I'm really looking forward to reading this book!

+1 tweet-!/ohaiitschey/status/113634148983377920


nikkipickles45 said...

I love how much you touch on how real the characters are. And how the girls lives don't begin and end with boys. I really can't wait to read this book.


TheGirlOnFire said...

I have actually been trying to win this book for a while! I really love it when an author digs into a hard to talk about topic. I enjoy getting a new perspective on my opinions.

+1 spread here
GFC follower

thegirlonfire27 at gmail dot com

Patricia's Particularity said...

Nice review. I have heard great things about this book. It is nice to see a novel show healthy female friendships; while I can think of a few it is hard to county many. I can not wait to read this!



Jolene and Family said...

This sounds like a great read. I really enjoyed The Duff and can't wait to crack this open. I love it when characters have quirks and Lissa reminds me so much of myself, you add Chloe into the mix and she is just like my sister. I feel like I just went back in time here :) Though we are 100 % different from eachother, we even eachother out and that's what makes us the best of friends. Great review, can't wait to get my hands on this

GFC follower



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