Author: Kody Keplinger
Publisher: Poppy (September 5, 2011)
Most high school sports teams have rivalries with other schools. At Hamilton High, it's a civil war: the football team versus the soccer team. And for her part,Lissa is sick of it. Her quarterback boyfriend, Randy, is always ditching her to go pick a fight with the soccer team or to prank their locker room. And on three separate occasions Randy's car has been egged while he and Lissa were inside, making out. She is done competing with a bunch of sweaty boys for her own boyfriend's attention
Then Lissa decides to end the rivalry once and for all: She and the other players' girlfriends go on a hookup strike. The boys won't get any action from them until the football and soccer teams make peace. What they don't count on is a new sort of rivalry: an impossible girls-against-boys showdown that hinges on who will cave to their libidos first. But what Lissa never sees coming is her own sexual tension with the leader of the boys, Cash Sterling...
I can tell you the exact day I fell in love with Kody Keplinger (and her writing): June 21, 2009. That post by Janet Reid, including Keplinger's query for her debut novel, The DUFF, had me head over heels. Once I was finally able to read The DUFF, I fell in love again. In fact, The DUFF was my very first #yabookoftheday on twitter (tagged old school as #ya #bookoftheday). So, you can imagine the anticipation I had for Shut Out.
And that's the thing about sophomore novels...I get nervous. If the debut was only so-so, I anticipate that maybe the writing has gotten better, stronger, etc. and I might like the second book more. However, when I absolutely adore the first book, I get really nervous that book two won't be able to live up to it. After all, how could it? How could it possibly get better than that amazing first book I'd read?
Well, I'll tell you this up front. I liked Shut Out even more than The DUFF. Here's why: Shut Out had all the same great aspects as The DUFF (full-fledged characters, language and dialogue that's very true and real for today's teen, covering complex relational dynamics, etc.) AND I loved the story from the very first page. Don't get me wrong, I can't say enough good stuff about The DUFF, but I wasn't so sure about it when I read the first few chapters. Bianca was kind of whiny and annoying. It wasn't till I got into the groove of the writing that I really felt connected to her character. With Shut Out, I fell right into the story and characters immediately.
Reader warning: This book is all about sex. BUT! It's probably not what you think after reading that sentence. Shut Out is a modern reimagining of Lysistrata by Aristophanes. The women, tired of a seemingly stupid rivalry between two sports teams, decide to hold off on having sex until their male counterparts end the war. As far as Shut Out goes, the "sex" can be anything from sex to kissing. Whatever sexual was happening between two people will not be happening until "the war" is over.
That summary was enough to get me excited about the book. Once I read through that pages, what I found was a very honest, nonjudgemental, and critical examination of teenage sex in today's society. Double standards for the boys and girls were explored, but it was more than that. Comparisons of what's "normal" and who should do what and when were explored. These are the kind of questions every teen asks themselves at some point, but may never be able to voice. Shut Out not only voices the opinions, but explores them with a very positive message: Whatever your choice is and however you feel about sex is okay. You don't have to conform to what everyone else is doing, or act like you think the same way, or try to act a certain way to avoid a label. Figure out what you want based on how you feel and stick to it.
Overall, Shut Out had a great story, fleshed out characters, strong writing, and incredible content. It's a book I think every teen should read (*adults also welcome*).
Final thoughts: Buy it.