I’ll begin with full disclosure here, before I launch in to how much I like this book. I have a bit of a beef (pun intended) with Carolyn Mackler’s Vegan Virgin Valentine, because I wanted the heroine to remain a vegan and not become one just because she’s a bit of a control freak and diet is one more thing she can control. (And I admit this even as I dislike reviewers who pan books and movies just because they expected the text to go somewhere it didn’t.) Also, as someone struggling to get just that right hook in the first ten sentences of her book to make an agent/editor gasp with joy at the originality and obvious appeal of my manuscript, I have to admit I found the first paragraph of Tangled to be a little calculated in its draw. But, forget my bitterness. “Paradise sucked until I found the suicide note. And then it didn’t suck at all” is a great beginning.
On the surface, the four characters here whose lives intersect seem like pretty stock characters — the beautiful teen actress, the geek with the blog, the bad boy, and the dorky girl – but that’s the point. As each of them learns to look beyond the surface, Mackler allows us to find unexpected dimensions to the characters.
The characters are wholly believable, even the beautiful but troubled Skye, who describes her mom as someone “who tells me I can tell her everything but by that she means everything good” and her ex-boyfriend, “typical Matt, the Golden retriever of teenage guys.” Those lines exemplify the funny,sad and very real nature of the narrative.
You’re as likely to get drawn in to Mackler’s not-so-tangled web as I was. It’s one of the best YA reads of the year.
Tangled, Carolyn Mackler, HarperTEEN, 2010