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Thursday, May 3, 2012

About a Boy

Sometimes I read YA books and think to myself, This is so not a teen boy. Don’t get me wrong, I’m no expert in underage men, but some of them seem so sensitive. Almost like, oh I don’t know, girls.

Or like the way girls want boys to be:

That is, cute, sensitive, and always holding a puppy.

I don’t object to sensitive teen boys. They make up some of the best YA crushes. But do most real teen boys whisper poetic nothings in their crushes’ ears? Eh, probably not.

This doesn’t much bother me when we’re reading the story in the point of view of a teen girl. But when the narrator is an average guy and doesn’t sound adequately boyish—or if he sounds old enough to be a CW teen—then I get sad. Because as a teen I would have loved to be in the mind of a boy for 200 pages.

So when I read a book where the boy voice just screams BOY, I get pretty excited. That’s why I love Notes From the Blender. I read this half a year ago, and today when I was thinking of great teen boy narrators who weren’t written by an author with a color for a last name, it was the first that came to my mind.

Because today is Thursday and the Rules of the blogfest say I need to tell you about someone, I’m going to introduce you to Declan.

This* is Declan:
  • Scrawny and scraggly haired
  • Wears all black
  • Loves violent video games
  • Listens to death metal
  • Has secretly had a massive crush on Neilly, the girl who is soon to be his stepsister
  • Wonders if he can score with Neilly before she’s officially part of the family
Dec’s voice is spot-on. (It’s a multiple POV book with alternating chapters written from Neilly’s perspective.) If I didn’t know better, I’d wonder if his chapters were written by an actual 16-year-old boy. His outlook on the world and his situation—his father is marrying Neilly’s mom, who is pregnant with Dec’s soon-to-be step-sibling—is hilarious, as is the way he tries to forget that the girl he’s been fantasizing about for years—the HOTTEST GIRL ON EARTH—will be living down the hall.

Dec’s sarcasm and boyish thoughts are pretty awesome. Like in this excerpt, where he’s listening to Neilly talk about the two guys she likes:
Like, for example, Neilly’s seemingly eternal question: Should she listen to whatever Sam had to say to her, oh my God, he shut Gary up, that’s so cool, he’s really grown as a person, or would that be stupid for her to totally forgive him for macking on Lulu, that was so uncool, what kind of person would do that? 
And I was like, “Well, I don’t know, Neill”—I call her Neill ’cause we’re close like that—“I mean, I guess it comes down to this: Does he have what you want in a guy?” 
“I think so,” she said. “I mean, I want somebody I can talk to.” Check. Got that—we’re talking now. “Somebody who makes me laugh.” Yup, several times a day. “And somebody who’s, you know, sensitive without being wussy.” I was pretty sure I had demonstrated that quality on several occasions. “And, of course, someone who’s smokin’ hot.” 
Well, three out of four is 75 percent. Not great, but a solid passing grade. Something to build on.
I don’t intend this to be a review of the book, but if you’re curious: It’s funny and sweet and worth a read. Dec’s POV is definitely the stronger of the two, but Neilly’s is still fun.

Who’s your favorite teen boy narrator?

* I was going to put a photo here but finding a decent shot of a teen death metal fan wearing all black is harder than you might imagine.

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