Tuesday, 14 December 2010

Review for You Against Me by Jenny Downham

Let me start off by telling you that I wasn’t a huge fan of Jenny Downham’s debut novel Before I Die. I did enjoy it but I was in the small majority of people who didn’t love it as much as I originally thought I would. That being said when You Against Me dropped through my letterbox for review I was very excited to read it. The synopsis sounded so interesting and epic that I was not only willing but actually looking forward to giving Jenny Downham’s books another go and I’m very glad that I did! Mikey and Ellie lead two very different lives. Mikey lives in a block of flats and has to work to support his sisters and drunk of a mother whilst Ellie lives in the nice part of town in a big house with a security gate. Mikey and Ellie’s worlds should never meet but when Mikey’s sister claims that Ellie’s brother raped her two families collide. Ellie being the only other person in the house when the rape took place is the only person who really knows what happened that night, and so Mikey starts to date her- without Ellie knowing who Mikey really is- to try and figure out exactly what Ellie knows. But as the unlikely couple begin to fall in love the truth about what really happened that night becomes more important than ever as it stops being Mikey against Ellie and becomes them against their families. What I found really clever about this book is the play on the title which becomes more and more apparent as you carry on reading. You Against Me can stand for so many things. At first it’s very clear that it’s Mikey’s family against Ellie’s family, but that then shifts when Mikey and Ellie fall in love bringing you against me to imply more of an embrace, two people holding and supporting one another. Then as the story develops further the couple against their own families. I really loved that nice little touch to it and how it can be interoperated into so many things that fit with this book. You Against Me is very much a modern day Romeo and Juliet story. It’s a story about loyalties and with whom they rest. It’s about following your heart and standing up for what’s right. I found You Against Me to be a highly suspenseful read as the reader doesn’t know what really happened the night of the rape until the end so you spend the whole book trying to figure out if Ellie’s brother really did rape Micky’s sister, and to top it off you know that when the truth comes out it’s going to completely destroy one family and provide the other a starting point to rebuild their lives from. It was horrible to see the aftermath of that one night and the devastating effects it had not just on the individuals but on both of their families too. You become so attached to both Ellie and Mikey that you don’t want to see either of them suffer and it’s hard to know one of them will in the end when the truth comes out. Even though this book deals with the serious subject of rape it has a gleam of light with Mikey and Ellie’s new found romance. It adds the silver lining that this book needs. The only problem I had with this book is the writing. I’m not a huge fan of how Jenny Downham writes and this was a problem I had with Before I Die also. I love Jenny’s story ideas but I feel that her writing simplifies for the teen reader too much. Sometimes it feels like she’s trying too hard to be down with the kids. Whilst this took away from my enjoyment of reading Before I Die I could overlook it for You Against Me because the story is just too good to pass up on. You Against Me is a quick yet powerful read that I would certainly recommend. Fans of Before I die are going to love it and those who didn’t enjoy Before I die like myself are going to see a big improvement. I was pleasantly surprised with this one. My Rating 4/5 stars **** Thanks go to Random House for sending me this book to review.


  1. Wow Jess!

    I hadn't heard of this title or author before, but this story sounds very interesting. I'm gonna add it to my wish list now.

    And, I couldn't help LOLing when I read this, "Sometimes it feels like she’s trying too hard to be down with the kids."

    That's no bueno. LOL

    Thanks for the review.

  2. I really like your review Jess! I so want this book already!!! I have heard so much about it. I can't wait till it releases here is the US.

  3. i plan on reading this soon! oh no i hope you don't mean that the slang is off putting gah!! hoping for the best!

  4. Great review! I can't wait to read this :)

  5. Thanks for the review, I will be adding this to my TBR pile. I loved Before I Die, so this one sounds great too.
    education flat

  6. I actually did enjoy Before I Die and picked this up on the strength of the author's writing. It's still WBR but I'm really looking forward to it.


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