Wednesday, 10 August 2011

You Against Me by Jenny Downham

You Against Me focuses on the consequences of Karyn accusing Tom of rape; the legal odds are not in her favour – there is no evidence, Tom is from a very rich family who can afford the best lawyers and the only other person in the house at the time, Tom’s younger sister Ellie, claims not to have seen anything. Meanwhile, Kayrn’s brother is plotting his own form of revenge and whilst planning it out, he meets Ellie, and he certainly didn’t plan on what happens next…

You Against Me was realistic in all aspects, especially the characters, although I found that I didn't quite connect with them, which means I didn’t care too much what happens to them, which makes the storyline a bit redundant, but still touching. The alternating chapters between Mikey and Ellie provide both sides to the story of the assault – before reading You Against Me, I have to admit I’ve never given due consideration towards the point of view and feelings of the family of the offender, or how such a claim affects a wide range of people, so it has definitely opened my eyes in that respect. I liked the relevant culture references and slang, though much will go right over the heads of the non-British as they are fairly specific, and may be pretty confusing.

There was too much talk about sex and drugs for my liking, though I guess it made it gritty. You’re left on a cliffhanger, but I wouldn’t really call it that as such because it’s made pretty much clear what will eventually happen, especially if you give it a bit of thought. I found the pacing to be very slow with not a lot of action to sustain your interest and perhaps as much as a hundred pages could have been cut, which would make it a much more enjoyable read, as I was a bit underwhelmed on finishing it. Also, I really can’t decide if I like the cover or not, though I do like the scratches…

Nonetheless, You Against Me is indeed a brave and unflinching novel, dealing with a difficult and sensitive subject very carefully, yet still manages to explore it thoughtfully - a powerful and touching read.
[SYNOPSIS: If someone hurts your sister and you're any kind of man, you seek revenge, right? If your brother's been accused of a terrible crime and you're the main witness, then you banish all doubt and defend him. Isn't that what families do? When Mikey's sister claims a boy assaulted her at a party, his world of work and girls begins to fall apart. When Ellie's brother is charged with the crime, but says he didn't do it, her world of revision, exams and fitting in at a new school begins to unravel. When Mikey and Ellie meet, two worlds collide. Brave and unflinching, this is a novel of extraordinary skillfulness and almost unbearable tension. It's a book about loyalty and the choices that come with it. But above all it's a book about love - for one's family and for another.]


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