I bought Girl Defective when Rachel and I were on a one-day trip to Sydney so that we could see Gayle Forman and Melina Marchetta in conversation at Books Kinokuniya (one day we will get around to posting about how fricken amazing this was). So Kinokuniya has the best YA section I have ever seen in my entire life. And they have a section just for Australian YA authors, how cool is that? Needless to say, Rachel and I hung out there for a couple of hours and had to decide what books to buy because, as we all know and hate, we can not BUY ALL THE BOOKS. I already had about 7 books in my bag and it was really heavy, so I just got the one – Girl Defective.
Let me preface this with ‘I really enjoyed Girl Defective’ because I have a feeling that some of this may seem as though I didn’t. But bear with me. What I enjoyed most about Girl Defective was not the storyline, it was the atmosphere. Even though I’m not from the inner city, and even though I hate driving around St. Kilda (apparently I hate driving everywhere except for my own little suburb), I really enjoyed the scenes that Simmone Howell created. When Sky is in the record shop, it felt comfortable; when she was at Luna Park, it felt fun and when she was walking around prostitute-prone areas, it felt a little scary. But it’s not just the locations that gave the book a good atmosphere, it was the characters. I adored Gully, and I wanted Quinn to be my friend. I wanted to pash Luke and I wanted to punch Nancy in the face. Girl Defective is refreshingly not fantasy/sci-fi/post-apocalyptic but it still has the ability to make you feel like you are living in a different place. And that’s what I liked most about it.
I first spotted Girl Defective in Dymocks not long after it came out and I was seeing all the rave reviews for it. To be honest, I bought it because the cover intrigued me. And I loved the tagline: ‘We were like inverse superheroes, marked by our defects’. As is my standard procedure for buying books these days, I then stuck it on my TBR shelf and forgot about it until Annette read it & told me to read it as she knows I love books featuring music.
I hadn’t read any of Simmone Howell’s books until I read Girl Defective. I really do want to get on to her other books soon (but you know how it is, so many books, so little time). A few things I really liked:
- The characters: Sky is trying to deal with growing up without her mother while having to keep her oddball brother out of trouble and prevent her alcoholic Dad from falling apart. She’s a gutsy teenager just longing for an adventure and I loved the book from her POV. And Gully! I love it when an author isn’t afraid to make a character distinctly unique and I feel Simmone really achieved this with him. His dogged pursuit of the bricker and periodical status reports injected a bit of fun into the book, which I enjoyed. Luke, though I found his character to be a little underdeveloped, seemed like a sweetheart and I was rooting for him to get together with Sky and solve the mystery of what happened to Mia.
- The setting: Simmone’s writing style painted a vivid picture of St Kilda back when it was a lot seedier than the more tamer suburb we know it to be now. The air of mystery she wove throughout the story was just right and it lifted the atmosphere of the book, where appropriate, to more darker place.
- The music: of course, the music. I loved that Girl Defective featured a record shop and awesome 60s music (and any book that mentions one of my all-time favourite songs – The Boxer by Simon & Garfunkel – gets instant respect from me). I downloaded all the songs for Annette and I to listen to on our trip around St Kilda and I’ve spent the weeks since subjecting everyone I work with to listening to the playlist on repeat throughout the day. Wishing Well even became my gym workout song for a while there.
So in conclusion: if you’re after something a little different, give Girl Defective a go. If you enjoy books featuring music as much as me, definitely give it a go. You won’t regret it.