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Howdy YAL!

I used to be the blogger called YAL Book Briefs, but I grew bored of the handle and changed my name to Howdy YAL. I also respond to MJ. I like to read, write, eat truffles, and watch bad Lifetime movies. 

Troy High - Shana Norris Really 1.5 stars. To see full review click here: http://yalbookbriefs.blogspot.com/2012/10/troy-high-shana-norris.htmlReally, I didn't have that high hopes for this book. Troy retellings and anything that has to do with Troy at this point in my life is a bit of a sore subject for me (see Starcrossed review). However, I was hoping that Troy High would somehow defy the odds and make me love Homer's poem again (it didn't). I will go on the record by saying that this isn't a bad book and if I wasn't a cynical old law student, I might've enjoyed it better. One of the best things about this book, besides it's concept was that it was an easy read. I do most of my fun reading while I'm commuting, so the fact that I was able to finish it in less than a week is saying something (either that or the traffic has gotten way worse). That being said, I couldn't help but let out more than a few groans when I was reading it. To say the least, Troy High was cheesy. But I think even saying that's an understatement. I think I'll discuss what bothered me by breaking up the cheese into little pieces.Let's start with the characters. For the most part they were pretty flat. I mean, Cassie was nice enough,but I really didn't like her. As I'll mention below the girl's a bit of a bitch, but not in a good way. She does some really stupid things and she really doesn't learn anything from her mistakes. It's all washed over in the end. I guess it doesn't help that the supporting characters are weak as well. I mean, everyone is gunning for everyone in this stupid rivalry that's going on it's this book with very little thought. I get that it's trying the book is trying to retell the Trojan War, but you have to put into context that this is the modern world and honestly most teens really don't feel that much pride for their high school. And the whole forbidden love angle and for that matter the love interest in general. Really, the most flimsy plot point ever. He's not even that great of mind candy. I mean, the only description that we have of him is of his before look. And this is going to be shallow, but that before look wasn't even cute in the nerdy hottie sort of way. And yeah, I don't like excessive description but throw at least one abs description (please).The plot as I alluded to earlier was weak. And I think it was in part because of the way Norris portrayed high school. Let's face it, high school is a complicated place. Not everyone is going to like you just like not everyone is going to hate you. There are various sects in the school. Some are more about school spirit than others. All the kids at Troy and Lacede they really had team spirit. That's the only reason/way I think Norris could sell the whole Troy plot but still it just didn't work.And okay, now I'm going to be really nit picky. I honestly got annoyed with the way Norris portrayed other groups other than the football and cheerleading squad, a.k.a. the band. You know, I was in band all four years in high school. My relatives are band directors and let me tell you this, they don't just have a half time show for stupid homecoming. The band and for that matter drill team, perform at each and every halftime show. You might be getting your popcorn or soda while they're performing but the band is performing their show. A show that they will have competitions over. To just state that the band is there for a prop for the football team is insulting to those of us who did not like playing"Let's Go Coogs" in high school. An boy, did I hate that song...Best Feature: Concept. This book has a pretty neat topic. A topic that I think was sort of washed down till it barely represented it's source material. But still Troy. Super cool and neat and all. And a retelling of Troy that should've meant that this instantly should've been epic. But it wasn't. And I know that loose retellings can work. Case in point, Meg Cabot's Avalon High. The book was loosely based off of the Arthurian myth and took place in a contemporary high school setting. But somehow it worked (at least until Disney ruined it). I think in Norris's case she took a too literal approach and it sort of slapped her back in the face. I mean, if you wanted to go literal with Troy you might as well introduce the fantasy elements and Norris didn't.Worst Feature: Flatness. The characters and plot were just flat. And I think this was the big reason I couldn't identify with this book. Take our lead Cassie. She's very immature, suffers from self esteem issues, and honestly is a bit of a bitch. That equals flawed character which should equal awesome, right? Well, no. I just didn't like Cassie. She reminded me of one of those girls in high school you wanted to be nice to but just couldn't. Not because you couldn't sympathize with them because you totally could. But because she'd be turning her back on you as soon as popularity comes a calling. It also doesn't help that every relationship in this book for the most part is based on pure shallowness but it lacked the necessary descriptions necessary to make shallowness succeed. Honestly, I think if the book would've been in a different character's POV- say Elena's I might have liked it better.Appropriateness: Aside for some jokes about bodily fluids and functions and some rather immature pranks, this is pretty tame. Really if anything, the book comes off as juvenile. It's like one of those bad PG movies your kids drag you too that have fart joke after fart joke. That should give you some level of it's maturity. It's not going to scar your kids, but it just might scar you.