Monday, February 23, 2015

Book Review: Top Ten Clues You're Clueless by Liz Czukas

Release date: December 9, 2014
Info about the author: Goodreads - Twitter - Website
Publisher: Harper Teen
Age group: YA
Pages: 289
Buy the book: Amazon

Description (from Goodreads):

Top Five Things That Are Ruining Chloe’s Day

5) Working the 6:30 a.m. shift at GoodFoods Market

4) Crashing a cart into a customer’s car right in front of her snarky coworker Sammi

3) Trying to rock the “drowned rat” look after being caught in a snowstorm

2) Making zero progress with her crush, Tyson (see #3)

1) Being accused—along with her fellow teenage employees—of stealing upwards of $10,000

Chloe would rather be anywhere than locked in work jail (aka the break room) with five of her coworkers . . . even if one of them is Tyson. But if they can band together to clear their names, what looks like a total disaster might just make Chloe’s list of Top Ten Best Moments.

Before I started to read this book, I had seen it being compared to the classic 1980s teen drama The Breakfast Club, directed by the iconic John Hughes. The more I read this book, the more I started to see the connection. It is obvious that it takes a lot to reach the level of geniousness Hughes reached, but I think that for the fans of the film (which is something I would identify myself as), this book is a funny, quick and pretty cute read.

The main character of this novel, Chloe, is bit of an outsider. She is fairly new to her school, a bit shy and just in general feels like she does not exactly fit in. She is obsessed with making lists and feels like sometimes the obsession might be a problem – instead of living her life and gaining new experiences, she makes lists, some important, some just completely random. She works in a local supermarket, crushes over her co-worker Tyson and hopes to find something that would not only connect her with Tyson, but also with her other co-workers.

It is Christmas eve and Chloe has been scheduled to work. Alongside her are a big group of other employees, but the book really focuses on the group of teenagers working in the story, which includes Chloe, Tyson, Sammi, Zaina, Micah and Gabe. Tyson, the guy Chloe has a crush on, is sweet, very gentlemanly and funny, but I feel like we never get to know enough of him to fully fall in love with him. Both Sammi and Gabe are bit mysterious – Sammi seems to be in a group home, whereas Gabe kind of seems to fit to the “popular, rich guy type”. Micah is honest, smart and nice – he helps others and easily delivers random trivia, even when it is not necessarily welcomed. Finally, Zaina is beautiful, but also cloaked in mystery. Like in The Breakfast Club, these teenagers all represent some sort of stereotype at the beginning of the novel which are then opened up and either comfirmed or denied as the novel develops.

Like in The Breakfast Club, the events of this novel unfold within one day. The novel starts from the morning of Christmas eve, and follows the events of the day. A regular work day is interrupted by the possible theft that has taken place inside the store, most likely among the employees. The money from the Christmas donation box has been taken, which means that most likely over 10,000 dollars are missing. When the group of teenage employees are identified as a possible suspect, they are forced to stay in the store after the closing and while waiting for their verdict, they have to spend time together and to figure out how to get away from the uncomfortable situation they have been put it.

I really enjoyed the structure of this book and how it really takes its time to develop the relationships between the characters. Throughout, it makes you aware of the fact that these are people who have known each other before (it is not their first day at work, for example), but that this moment, this accusation of them being thiefs, brings them together in a way that has not happened before. Yes, they might have been frienly acquiantances, but now they actually have to be on each others side and ignore the fact that during a regular day, they might not develop any kind of deeper relationships. Since Tyson is Chloe's “love interest”, the connection between her and him is discussed a bit more than the connection she has with others, and to be completely honest, I wish that they would have just been friends rather than anything romantic. I just feel like forcing those feelings in a day (even though there might have been some prior feelings) feels like rushing. Yes, they are cute and all that, but I feel like this is the one major aspect of the novel that lacks realism.

Since Chloe is obsessed with lists, this book also includes some lists. Most of them are the type that we write in our diaries: lists about movies we love and boys we have crushes on. There are also something that could be called “to do” lists – tasks that Chloe gives herself to connect with Tyson and the other co-workers. Finally, there are lists about weird customers and things that happen in the store. It is these lists involving “weird” people that kind of riled me up at points, but at the same time, I won't judge, because I wrote about same type of things when I was in high school – the way people stress, what they buy etc.

All in all, as I briefly mentioned before, Top Ten Clues You're Clueless is a quick, cute read that will most likely cater to all readers of YA contemporary fiction, as well as to fans of Hughes's The Breakfast Club.

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