‘Luke Taylor was right there and I did not feel prepared.
I kept dancing but the sight of him had kind of electrified my insides. The boy he was with passed him a pint of something green; Luke took a sip and grimaced. The klaxon went off and everybody screamed.’
Uni beckons. Phoebe can’t wait, especially since her crush from school will be there. But Luke’s oblivious, still reeling from the fallout of the break-up with his ex. Thrown head first into a world of new friends, parties and social media disasters – can Phoebe and Luke survive the year, let alone find each other?
What I thought:
This book manages to capture the manic-ness of the first term at university really well. The parties and nights out, the lectures and level of work, as well as the speed that friendships can form and break until you find ‘your’ group. It’s the first YA that I’ve read set at uni and although it’s about the same age as a lot of college books it’s a big difference. Being away from home for the first time and having no one to stop you or tell you that you can’t do something means that the first term at university is often when you really let loose and get completely drunk before you start to find and understand your limits. The authors perfectly capture the intensity of being left to fend for your own for the first time. With the opening scene in the SU Club for the Fresher’s UV party you can’t deny that just like the freshers themselves you’re thrown into the deep end.
It would be very easy for this to follow the YA romance formula as Phoebe has been in love with Luke since year 9 and now that they’re at the same university and he’s broken up with his long term girlfriend it appears that nothing is stopping them getting together. But although the relationship is important for me the main plot and relationships are the friendships that form. University friendships and quick and intense and it can find a while until you find the people you actually like rather that just people in your corridor. The friendships that form at uni are often described as being life-long friendships but what they forget are the quick friendships that form beforehand and often burn out. University can often be about ‘finding yourself’ or ‘reinventing yourself’ and it can take a few go’s to find something that fits and with each go you can find a different group of friends.
This book also looks at the ‘lad’ culture of university as well as peer pressure, with the football team and their initiation as well as the ‘hall of fame’ where they take photos and rate the girls they sleep with. Ellen and Ivison don’t shy away from these difficult topics, and the impact they have on everyone. One boy walks away from the footie team during initiation as he’s sober and they try to force him to drink, and yet when he leaves the rest of the team all jeer at him. Luke isn’t happy with a lot of the ‘laddish-ness’ but doesn’t feel like he can say anything because people could turn against him and he could be kicked off the team.
Why I read it:
Purely because it was set at uni and this was the first time I’d ever seen it in UKYA, there are USAYA books set at college and while it’s the same age the culture is very different. I’d love to read more books set at uni or even just after, it feels like a lot of YA drops off once the characters turn 18, and yet the readers often don’t. And there are no adult books set at this age either. Some more representation here would be great.
A quick paced book that captures the intensity, the joy, and the difficulty of Freshers. As times it felt like it was going to be a bit formulaic but it took a slightly different route allowing me to be pleasantly surprised.
Would I recommend: If you’re a uni student I would definitely suggest this as a fun read and also to prove that no one knows what their doing or feels like a ‘grown up’
Popsugar: About feminism, Book by two authors, published in 2018.
Read Harder: One sitting.
Please let me know what you think and if you have any recommendations for books set at uni or just after uni I’d love to know. It feels like society thinks that now I have a degree I should know what to do for the rest of my life and just join the rat race whilst I’m just going ‘blurgh real life, that’s an actual thing’.
See you tomorrow,