Thursday, June 16, 2016

Review: The Yearbook Committee by Sarah Ayoub

Title: The Yearbook Committee
Author: Sarah Ayoub
Publisher: HarperCollins Australia
Publication Date: 1 March 2016
Buy: Amazon | The Book Depository | Dymocks Australia

Five teenagers. Five lives. One final year.

The school captain: Ryan has it all … or at least he did, until an accident snatched his dreams away. How will he rebuild his life and what does the future hold for him now?

The newcomer: Charlie’s just moved interstate and she’s determined not to fit in. She’s just biding her time until Year 12 is over and she can head back to her real life and her real friends …

The loner: At school, nobody really notices Matty. But at home, Matty is everything. He’s been single-handedly holding things together since his mum’s breakdown, and he’s never felt so alone.

The popular girl: Well, the popular girl’s best friend … cool by association. Tammi’s always bowed to peer pressure, but when the expectations become too much to handle, will she finally stand up for herself?

The politician’s daughter: Gillian’s dad is one of the most recognisable people in the state and she’s learning the hard way that life in the spotlight comes at a very heavy price.

Five unlikely teammates thrust together against their will. Can they find a way to make their final year a memorable one or will their differences tear their world apart?
(summary from Goodreads)

The Yearbook Committee strives to be deep and meaningful but is little more than hollow stereotype.

I was really disappointed with this book. I liked the concept, it had a sort of The Breakfast Club vibe to it that appealed to me, but ultimately it simply doesn't deliver. Ayoub has obviously tried hard, filling her story with varied characters and topics, but at best it's cliched and at worst, simply meaningless. For me it really seems a case of trying too hard. Ayoub has tried to cover as much as possible, over a 9 month period, as quickly as she could and it reads that way. Too much and too rushed. There are a number of great and interesting topics touched upon, from bullying, depression, friendship, drugs, self-esteem, abortion, disability, media, family, and so on, but that's part of the problem - they're only touched upon. Ayoub mentions them, tries to have them a major part of the story, but none are truly delved into in any real depth. The Yearbook Committee frustrated me because all the ways it could have been amazing were right there! I could see what was meant to have an emotional impact but it all just fizzled. Believe me, I should have been crying but instead I was annoyed. The Yearbook Committee rang hollow unfortunately.

As did all of Ayoub's characters. Though alternating between the point of views of five main characters, I feel like we never really got to know any of them. They're very stereotypical, which isn't so bad to begin with if they develop into more as we get to know them, but here, that just isn't the case. Each character is and remains very two dimensional, and as I didn't connect with the story, I really, really didn't connect with Ayoub's characters. Again it was frustrating as there was such potential. There was just so much missing, the development, the build up. These characters pretty much hate each other, then from one moment to the next they're practically the best of friends - how?! Reading how this happens is why I was reading The Yearbook Committee and it just wasn't there! The same for the romantic relationship between Charlie and Ryan. One moment they're insulting each other, the next they're kissing. Um? I want to have experienced these developments! This is where the emotion should've hit. For me, the worst thing that really cemented my unhappiness with The Yearbook Committee is a certain characters death. Now that's not a spoiler! Right from the beginning we're aware one of these characters is going to die, the question is who. I found myself quite disgusted with how this characters death was handled. It was very blase and it infuriated me that their death was so meaningless. Emotion! But the wrong kind. There's this whole scene where this characters death was revealed and I hated it. HATED IT! I don't think Ayoub could have forced me to care any less. Honestly, I just do not get the point of The Yearbook Committee. This book is full of these cringeworthy, ultimately ridiculous moments that should be thought-provoking, heartfelt, and emotional, but all the heart and realness necessary to make it so are missing. I was so dissatisfied with The Yearbook Committee because it didn't feel like there was any true closure. 

The Yearbook Committee aims high but it's missing heart.



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