Friday 6 June 2014

Reviewed by Arianne: Blue by Lisa Glass.

 Product details:
 Publisher: Quercus.
Paperback, 384 pages.
Release date: June 5th 2014.
Rating: 4 out of 5.
Ages: YA
Source: Received from publisher for review.
Reviewed by: Arianne.

Surfing is sixteen-year-old Iris’s world, and when the ultra-talented Zeke walks into her life, it soon becomes her passion.

Over one amazing summer, as she is drawn into his sphere, she experiences love, new friendships, but also loss, with an intensity she never dreamed of.

But is Zeke all he seems? What hides beneath his glamorous and mysterious past? When Iris decides to try for her own surfing success, just as her ex-boyfriend comes back into her life, she will test her talent, and her feelings for Zeke, to the limit…

For most people, the word summer conjures up images of barbecues and bikinis, sandy beaches and sweltering heat, epic road trips and California music festivals. But here in the UK and Ireland? Summer is just another season of rainy skies, widespread Vitamin D deficiency and overly-optimistic clothing ranges in shop windows. We have to import our sources of sunshine, and Blue by Lisa Glass did just that for me. 

Iris loves to surf. The thrill, the adrenaline. It’s a rush her mother wants her to stay away from, but with gorgeous, passionate new arrival Zeke in town for the summer, Iris finds herself being drawn more and more to the sport she never imagined she could be successful in. But when secrets start to unravel and the glamour starts to fade, Iris realizes that Zeke may not be the person she thought he was, and she comes to question everything – her talent, her love, and her courage.

I’ll admit it: I was not a fan of Blue’s opening. It’s set in a yoga class, for no reason at all (scratch that, there is a reason and its name is Zeke’s shiny surfer abs) and it’s not the best introduction to characters who just have so much more to give.

Zeke is charming and confident, but around Iris, he’s often as awkward as she is. For all his charisma and, let’s face it, downright hotness, take him out of the water and onto dry land and he starts to  break free of the carefully cultivated image that puts him on teen magazine covers and wall posters. Iris, on the other hand, is more down-to-earth: she’s just an ordinary teenage girl, battling insecurity and the anguish of a recent break-up. I didn’t like Iris quite as much as I expected, but I did admire her determination and the way she remains close with her best friend Kelly despite the drama of her entry into competitive surfing.

As for the supporting characters, I can’t say I’m a big fan of Daniel (the ex Iris is having such a hard time getting over) but I loved Zeke’s family. Even Saskia grew on me. The ever-expanding orbit of Iris’s narrative is cleverly grounded in the fairly sedate life Newquay offers her, but it’s exploration of the delicate politics and outright misogyny of the surfing world that really highlights Blue’s potential as a story. Unfortunately, I felt that story was let down by the clunky, colloquial writing style – what I wouldn’t have given for a bit of USYA gloss and sheen with this one – and in particular, the fact that the writing hinged on a classic case of show vs. tell, and the author made the wrong choice.

That said, the romance between Iris and Zeke is adorable. It’s pretty clear that they fancy the pants off each other, but neither is sure what the other wants from a relationship, and the complications of surf life tend to get in the way at the most critical of moments. Zeke is an established young star of the surf world, with sponsors to please and contests to win across the globe - but it’s Iris’s discovery of the surfing community which kick-starts the plot. Naturally, Blue is spilling over with surf references, terminology and techniques, but the reader learns right alongside Iris, making Blue the kind of book that can be enjoyed by experts and kooks (apparently ‘kook’ is the surf term for a novice. Who knew?!) alike. 

 In short: for fans of Hooked by Liz Fichera and Racing Savannah by Miranda Kenneally, Blue is a straightforward yet page-turning insight into a world ruled by the waves, and the adrenaline junkies crazy enough to surf them. It’s a relatively easy read but it’s got a satisfying story and makes for an ideal beach companion, even if you don’t plan on bringing your surf board along for the ride. 


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