Book: A Girl Called Shameless (Izzy O’Neill #2)
Author: Laura Steven
Bechdel Test: PASS-Izzy talks with numerous named female characters about things other than boys, to Ajita, Meg and Hazel about the campaign, to her grandmother about college, to her agent Eliza about her screenplay, there’s plenty of Bechdel test passing content in this book (unsurprisingly).
The Exact Opposite of Okay, the predecessor to this book was one of my favourite reads of last year, and so of course, this, the sequel to it, I had incredibly high hopes for. Did it meet them all? Well unfortunately, no, not really. Izzy’s voice is as fresh and realistic as ever, but the humour didn’t land quite as well for me in this book and whereas the first book had quite a clear main “incident” that shakes things up for the characters and makes the plot move, this book, being all about trying to change revenge porn laws, is a much slower mover and the book is basically like 95% buildup with only 5% reward, so whilst it’s still enjoyable, there’s not an awful lot actually happening. Here is a short synopsis of the book:
Funnier. Ruder. Angrier. Izzy O’Neill is back in the hilarious sequel to The Exact Opposite of Okay.
It’s been two months since a leaked explicit photo got Izzy involved in a political sex scandal – and the aftershock is far from over. The Bitches Bite Back movement is gathering momentum as a forum for teenage feminists, and when a girl at another school has a sex tape shared online, once again Izzy leads the charge against the slut-shamer. This time she wants to change the state law on revenge porn.
Izzy and her best friend Ajita are as hilarious as ever, using comedy to fight back against whatever the world throws at them, but Izzy is still reeling from her slut-shaming ordeal, feeling angry beyond belief and wondering – can they really make a change?
I loved that we got a little recap of the first book at the beginning of this one, this is honestly something that I think should be an industry standard with sequel books, because it’s always at least a year, possibly more between instalments and not everyone has the time to reread the previous instalments before the new one, so I very much appreciated that, and that it was done in such an Izzy way!
Of course I still loved Izzy, she goes through a lot of character development in this book. She’s still dealing with the fallout from her nudes being released and she struggles to talk about her experiences and as angry as she is at the system, she’s incredibly reluctant to be a political figurehead. She’s also trying to work through dealing with her anger about the whole thing, and being more open with her family and friends as well as working out what is next for her future. It’s great that Steven doesn’t shy away from the fact that the nude leak had a serious impact on her and that is still ongoing in this sequel.
Her voice is still great and makes the book what it is, but I will say that the humour, I felt was kind of lacking this time. I don’t know if this was by design, because this book is about making political change and Izzy is trying not to hide so much behind her humour, but it wasn’t the same level of laugh out loud funny that The Exact Opposite of Okay was.
I did love the new “Tripod” of Ajita, Izzy and Meg, it was awesome that this book had such a focus on friendship, especially female friendship and these three girls are just so supportive of each other and I loved all their gentle ribbing of each other, like I said in my review of the last book, it reminds me very much of my own friendship group.
There were some spelling and grammar errors littered throughout, as well as occasionally continuity errors, where the date on the heading, didn’t match the events detailed within, which I know are probably editorial mistakes but still, they were kind of jarring to read in a finished book.
The plot itself was kind of slow, since the book is just continuing on from the last one, there’s not a big event like Izzy’s sex scandal (I mean the whole thing is precipitated on the release of another girl’s sex tape, but that happens quite early on in the book), most of the book is Izzy going through the motions of daily life whilst building up to the rally at the end of the book, which fair enough, that’s what most contemporaries are, I just didn’t find it particularly captivating.
The book also deals with the fallout between Izzy and Danny after the events of the last book and I was very glad that Izzy didn’t forgive him for what he did to her, because that would have felt highly unrealistic!
For the most part, the chapters were nice and even, mostly relatively short but there were a few overly long ones here and there and it would have been nice if they had been even throughout.
There is some nice representation, several POC characters (Ajita and Carson), LGBTQ+ characters (Ajita, Meg, Bella) and disability, with Meg in her wheelchair but I would have liked it if the book had explored more of the intersectionality aspects, between these identities and feminism, there are bits that touch on it, but by and large these identities are dealt with separately.
All of the talk of graduation really hit home for me because I’m in a very similar place at the moment as Izzy is in the book, albeit graduating from University rather than high school but I could definitely relate to her doubts and fears and confusion about what comes next for her!
Overall this was a nice ending to the duology and does offer some great commentary about feminism, sex, poverty, slut shaming and various other issues, but I didn’t find it quite as entertaining or hilarious as the first book.
My Rating: 3/5
My next review will be an e-ARC review, of Amanda Foody’s King of Fools, which comes out next Thursday in the UK, so my review will probably be up around then as well.