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A Reader of Fictions: Review: The Boy Book

A Reader of Fictions

Book Reviews for Just About Every Kind of Book

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Review: The Boy Book

The Boy Book
Ruby Oliver, Book 2

Author: E. Lockhart
Pages: 224
Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers
Source: Own

Description from Goodreads:
Cringe, laugh, and cry with Ruby Oliver as she learns to deal with boys, best friends, and her panic attacks!

Join Ruby Oliver at the start of her junior year at Tate Prep as she confronts:

• the secret about Noel
• mysterious notes from Jackson
• the interpretation of boy-speak
• the horrors of the school trip
• new entries in The Boy Book

There are Fruit Roll-Ups.
There is upper-regioning.
There are so many boys to choose from!
And there are penguins.

Only Ruby can keep her readers on her side even as those around her wonder, What is she thinking?!

Series Up to This Book:
1: The Boyfriend List (review|Goodreads)

First Sentence: (Context: This is in reference to the chapter title, "The Care and Ownership of Boobs") "a subject important to our study of the male humanoid animal because the boobs, if deployed properly, are like giant boy magnets attached to your chest."

A recent goal of mine has been to try to strike a better balance between review books and backlist titles. As such, I've been making time in my schedule for some books of my choice. How wonderful it is to read a full, already completed series back to back, rather than waiting a year for each one; I'd almost forgotten what that was like. Lockhart's Ruby Oliver charmed me with the first book, The Boyfriend List, and the sequel completely lives up to its predecessor.

Ruby Oliver remains her charming, neurotic self, and she grows on me more the better I become acquainted with her. In The Boyfriend List, I mentioned how realistic Ruby's selfishness made her as a character. In The Boy Book, the impact of Ruby's work with her therapist Doctor Z begins to become apparent. She really matures in this installment, learning to think a little bit more about her actions and their motivations. Her progress forward into a better Ruby is not too easy, though, as she does suffer the usual setbacks. Her character arc makes a natural and uplifting progression.

Each chapter opens with a snippet of the titular "Boy Book," created by Ruby and her former friends. In this book, they compiled the sum of their knowledge about boys, from boobs to phone etiquette to their girl code. These excerpts starkly contrast Ruby's current social leprosy with the days with the strength of their former friendship. So much of the book consists of their agreements to tell one another everything and trust one another implicitly, rules made tragic by how much they failed to work.

Romantic drama may seem to take center stage in this series, but, in fact, the most core theme is that of friendship. Lockhart tackles such notions as what friends owe to one another, and what precisely makes two people friends. She investigates both how Ruby's former friendships fell apart, and what Ruby learned from that. Left without any friends, Ruby settles for the best options open to her: Meghan, Noel, and Hutch. She never hated any of them, but they did not used to matter to her much either. Watching Ruby grow closer to them, find their hidden depths and begin to develop meaningful connections with them is a thing of beauty. I especially appreciated seeing Meghan's character, previously shown largely as a Bick-obsessed airhead, given so much more substance.

As far as the romance goes, Jackson continues in his serial dating ways. That boy cannot stand to be alone for five seconds. Thankfully, part of Ruby's growing up is coming to terms with the fact that Jackson is not at all the boy she thought he was, and moving on from him. A new romance blossoms on the horizon, but with an impediment that has me chewing my nails in concern. Ruby Oliver does the right thing, rather than the easy thing, and this is the surest sign of her new maturity.

The only reason I rated this installment lower than the prior is that the summation of book one was poorly handled. Rather than working the information in naturally, Lockhart infodumps crucial facts from book one here and there. Obviously, this will not be an issue for those who are not reading the books back to back as I am.

Lockhart's Ruby Oliver series shines with wit and personality, a humorous little gem. The stories are both quick and delightful to read. Next up is The Treasure Map of Boys, and I am glad I don't have to wait after that somewhat dramatic, though not cliffhanger dramatic, ending.

Review: 3.5/5

Favorite Quote:
"But I shouldn't go having flings I don't want in order to make my boyfriend notice me. And I shouldn't pretend that I don't like him so he'll come crawling back. Because it's creepy and stupid.
    It would be better to stop liking him for real. Then I'd be a lot happier."

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Blogger kara-karina@Nocturnal Book Reviews said...

O_O Makes me want to read this book too! :) Fantastic review, Christina! I'm so very glad that you are reading the books you bought for yourself a last and enjoying them :) You had an insane pace of reviews this year, my dear, and not all of the books you loved. So you go, girl! *hugs*

December 13, 2012 at 9:31 AM  
Blogger Jenni said...

I scrolled to the bottom of this to see what number you assigned it and I can't find one. I plan to read this series so I just wanted to see how it was keeping up for you, not read the whole review. But I skimmed it and YAY! I am happy to see that this series is still being good to you (minus the infor dump of course.) I saw your Goodreads status about how these books go by so fast and that has me excited. I like quick chick-lit books.

December 13, 2012 at 9:32 AM  
Blogger Steph Sinclair said...

Aww! This sounds like a fun book. I've never heard of this one before. I fully intend to devote some of January to reading books I've been wanting to get to instead of just review copies.

December 13, 2012 at 10:20 AM  
Blogger Bekka said...

Skipping over the actual review part because eventually I do want to get to this series. I'm glad the second one is still holding up to the first one. And I absolutely love the feeling of reading a series back to back. No waiting, no cliffhangers. Just diving straight into a world for 3, 5, 10 books without ever coming up for air. Sometimes it's awesome, other times it's overwhelming.

December 13, 2012 at 10:44 AM  
Blogger Christina Reads YA said...

I really do like that quote. A smart heroine, eh? Plus, as you wrote, all the books are out already... Hmmm. Also, what you wrote about selfishness making Ruby into a character reminds me a lot of Anna Karenina, actually. Even if that makes her a less likable character, it's always nice to actually believe in her existence as a character.

December 14, 2012 at 12:34 AM  
Blogger Christina said...

Hahaha, I'm GOING!

I've been able to free myself up to read more of the books that I own so I could complete my book challenge and I LOVE it.

December 17, 2012 at 11:22 AM  
Blogger Christina said...

Oops. Blogger ate it, but I added it back in. :)

December 17, 2012 at 11:22 AM  
Blogger Christina said...

So much fun! I'm trying to strike a better balance between review books and backlist stuff.

December 17, 2012 at 11:22 AM  
Blogger Christina said...

True. Sometimes I just don't want any more in that world for a while. These were easy to dive into. :)

December 17, 2012 at 11:23 AM  
Blogger Christina said...

Fantastic when a series is all completed before you get there. If I were smart, I might make a rule against starting an uncompleted series, but...I WANT THEM RIGHT NOW.

December 17, 2012 at 11:23 AM  
Blogger Bea Tejano said...

Thanks for a fantastic review! Havent read any of her books before:) Might add this to my TBR list:)

January 14, 2013 at 12:55 PM  

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