Book Review : Solitaire by Alice Oseman

November 19, 2014 Book review 3 ★★★½

I saw the main character in this book was a blogger and foolishly I thought I was going to bond with Tori.  So I downloaded a copy and went to Goodreads to update my bookshelf.  And was dismayed to see so many blogger friends had already rated the book poorly.  But this is yet another lesson in each to their own as I really did enjoy this one.

Book Review : Solitaire by Alice OsemanSolitaire by Alice Oseman
Published by HarperCollins on 31st March 2015
Genres: Friendship, Social Issues, Young Adult
Pages: 368
Source: Edelweiss

My name is Tori Spring. I like to sleep and I like to blog. Last year – before all that stuff with Charlie and before I had to face the harsh realities of A-Levels and university applications and the fact that one day I really will have to start talking to people – I had friends. Things were very different, I guess, but that’s all over now.

Now there’s Solitaire. And Michael Holden.

I don’t know what Solitaire are trying to do, and I don’t care about Michael Holden.

I really don’t.

First Line of Solitaire by Alice Oseman:

“I am aware as I step into the common room that the majority of the people here are almost dead, including me.”

My Thoughts on Solitaire by Alice Oseman:

Well that first line gives you a fairly good insight into Tori.  She is depressed.  And so much for me bonding with her; she is pretty much the opposite to me in everything.  She hates books, despises people, is a huge pessimist and is downright snarky in her (few) interactions with people.  She is like a drain and pulls any positive force out of the air to turn everything into something bad.

So it’s pretty safe to say I didn’t bond with Tori.  I do however have empathy for her.  She is ill.  As much as I want to say look at all the great things in your life, what do YOU have to be depressed about, I get it.  That’s just the key issue.  I like the point that this book illustrates that none of that matters.  Depression is an illness and can strike anyone, of any age, at any time.

As I was reading I kept thinking this is such an accurate depiction of a teenage girl, teenage life and all the trouble and strife that goes with that.  So it came as no great surprise to find out that the author wrote this as a teenager (she is 20 now) as it just shows.  It’s real and gritty and pretty devastating to see what a struggle everyday life is for her.  It’s a heavy read and it made me feel heavy as I read it.  But that’s ok, I don’t want all my reads to be fun and frolics and I like books that jolt me and that make me consider other view points.

Her parents did make me stop and think.  They are both absent and present.  They do check in and make a point of family mealtimes as Tori’s younger brother has food issues.  They try to jolly her out of her depression, telling her cheer up, smile and all the trite expressions that are of no help to someone suffering from mental health issues.  As her brother has also had issues and they have had to deal with that as a family, it seemed unrealistic that they would be in such denial about Tori and how to help her find ways through her illness.

The other theme of the book is Solitaire; an anonymous online teenage anarchy game that is going on in Tori’s school.  I wasn’t too in to that part of the story.  I was more invested in the characters and the relationships between them all.  That was the real highlight of the book for me.  Solitaire was just a back story for me and its melodramatic conclusion didn’t do anything for me.

Overall though I really enjoyed the book.  The characters were well drawn and developed, issues weren’t downplayed and I loved how realistic it all was.  I also enjoyed the snippets of romance, they weren’t the main focus of the book and they didn’t detract from the serious issues but they did add a hopeful vibe to the story.


Rating Report
Did I feel it?
Overall: three-half-stars


Who should read Solitaire by Alice Oseman?

I recommend this to anyone who wants to read about realistic YA characters struggling with mental health issues.  It’s not the book to read if you are just looking for cute and fun but if you can deal with dark, depressing and gritty; go for it.  It will give you food for thought.

Thanks to Edelweiss and Harper Teen for giving me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest, unbiased review.




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3 Responses to “Book Review : Solitaire by Alice Oseman”

  1. Christy

    It’s funny how some adults will read YA and then complain about the hero/heroine being too immature, too this, too that… yeah, they’re a teenager. lol. So that’s really interesting that the author actually WAS a teen when she wrote it. Glad you liked it.
    Christy recently posted…Stan by C.J. Duggan

  2. Rachel

    Love your take on the review, every other review I’ve read slates the main character for basically being a b*tch, but I haven’t seen one that mentions depression, which puts a whole new spin on it. Luckily, I don’t need my characters to be likable to like a book, in fact sometimes I prefer when they aren’t… I might give it a go…
    Rachel recently posted…Exclusive Bookish Gift Discounts!

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