Title: Blaze (or Love in the Time of Supervillains)
Author: Laurie Boyle Crompton
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Blaze is tired of spending her life on the sidelines, drawing comics and feeling invisible. She’s desperate for soccer star Mark to notice her. And when her BFF texts Mark a photo of Blaze in sexy lingerie, it definitely gets his attention. After a hot date in the back of her minivan, Blaze is flying high, but suddenly Mark’s feelings seem to have been blasted by a freeze-ray gun, and he dumps her. Blaze gets her revenge by posting a comic strip featuring uber-villain Mark the Shark. Mark then retaliates by posting her “sext” photo, and, overnight, Blaze goes from Super Virgin Girl to Super Slut. That life on the sidelines is looking pretty good right about now…
After reading a review pointing out the large amount of slutshaming in this book but otherwise deciding the book was decent, I thought I knew what I was getting into and that I would at least enjoy it a little. What I got instead was a book that made me want to hit the charcters (mostly Blaze and her best friends) or at leas throw the book whenever Blaze was particullarly judgmental and catty about other girls (luckily, I didn’t, considering it would have been a lot and would have seriously hurt my Nook, on which I was reading this).
OK, first I’ll address the slutshaming. There is a lot of slutshaming. When the main character’s reputation gets trashed because of a “sext,” I guess it’s to be expected, but I was seriously ticked off with how much there was, and some of what the characters said. I don’t really highlight while reading, but there were some quotes that I kept in mind just to talk about here:
Catherine Wiggans, aka Wiggles, is the school’s resident large-breasted slut… (page 21 in ebook)
4 boys in the back is Wiggles style – lol did you see the latest? …
that girl has zero shame
(IM conversation, page 30 in ebook)
…’Wiggles’ of catherinewigglesisaslut.com fame – the diseased girl at our school with a whole website devoted to her slutty exploits. (page 35 in ebook)
…I’ve nearly lost an eye colliding with Catherine Wiggan’s airbag chest. (page 111 in ebook)
“People will eventually realize there is a difference between a girl like you who made one mistake, and someone like Catherine Wiggan, who is a career-slut destined for eternal slut-hood.” (page 222)
“You’ve been a slut since the eighth grade,” I say, which isn’t being mean because it’s just the simpel truth. “Nobody will treat you differently unless you start acting differently.” (page 229)
Catherine gives my shoulder a light shove, and it’s more than I can take. Getting abused by random people for two weeks has been bad enough. I don’t need this whore pushing me around.
“I’m not like you!” I say. “You screwed the entire junior varsity basketball team in the locker room the summer before eighth grade!” (page 229)
These excerpts are most of the mentions of Catherine Wiggans (I should know – I searched her name). We don’t actually see Catherine until page 229, over two thirds into the book. Every mention of her suggests she’s a slut, has big boobs, no morals, and is a slut. Yep, I think mentioning it twice was warranted. I felt so bad for the poor girl. I already knew she was a virgin, despite her “reputation,” but that didn’t change my opinion of her in the slightest – no girl, or boy, deserves to be spoken of like the people in this book speak about her, whether the rumors are true or not. There’s plenty of more slutshaming in the book, but Catherine is the main character that it centers around. Even when the picture of Blaze gets out and she’s on the receiving end of rumors and abuse as well, the slutshaming doesn’t really go away, Blaze just has trouble understanding why a mostly good girl like her could be compared to slutty slutbags (not a direct quote, but probably pretty darn close).
And, speaking of the picture, it isn’t even released until after the halfway point of the book. The first half focuses on Blaze’s obsession with Mark and judging everyone around her, from her “gossipy bitch” of a grandmother (she actually calls her “Mema” this) to her “best friends.” The only reason I didn’t DNF this book was because it was short. Oh, and because I don’t like DNFing books, just in case they get better or I find something else to obsess over (in a good or bad way).
Another big problem I had with this book was the hypocrasy of Blaze. Slight spoiler, so be warned, but Blaze ends up having sex with Mark, is fine wearing sheer lingerie in front of her friends in a dressing room, and has a pregnany scare. Now, these things do not make Blaze a bad person. She’s welcome to be sexually active if she wants. The problem is the fact that she slut shames other girls so much, even when she’s no longer a virgin. Blaze is rightfully less concerned about losing her virginity than she is about the boy she lost it with, but she feels insulted when she’s compared with “sluts” such as Catherine. I can understand why she wouldn’t want to be called a slut – no one should ever be called a slut – but if she’s willing to call out other girls in cruel ways for being sexually active, then she shouldn’t be surprised when the same is said of her. I had trouble feeling sorry for the horrible things that she goes through – and some of the things are definitely cruel – when she basicaly says the same thing about other girls, just not to their faces.
I had other minor issues with this book (incorrectly using “your” and “you’re,” putting down blondes beccause they’re apparently automatically easy and airheads, insisting she isn’t a “blonde” blonde, calling her car “Superturd” all the time, referring to her alter-ego Su-per (yes, with a hyphen) Virgin Girl a lot, etc.) and any good qualities about it weren’t enough to make up for the problems. The other review I read thought that the story itself and its inclusion of comics, superheroes, etc. made up for the problems, but they didn’t for me.
The only reason I didn’t give this book alower rating was because 1) it didn’t insult me so much that I had to DNF it, and it seemed to, somewhere deep, deep down, have the good message that girls aren’t automatically sluts if they have sex or take risque shots – at least, not if they love superheroes. There were other aspects of this book – a dad who abandoned the family, a mother who relies too much on her daughter, a nice younger brother who was one of the few characters that I actually liked, etc. – but the slutshaming took up so much of my attention (and this review) that it was easy to forget about the other books. Overall, this make left me kind of sad, not just because the book didn’t end up being a good book, but also because it was my first debut book this year and I was slightly hopeful about it before I read it.