Thursday, July 19, 2012
Review of "Youth in Revolt", by C.D. Payne
My rating: 4/5
This is really a peculiar read.
It's the journal of Nick Twisp, a manipulative, cynical, sex-obsessed youth whose erstwhile (I'm using that word because the author likes it so much) good behavior is succombing to the adolescent prime imperative of losing one's virginity. He hones in on his new amour Shinee, who is willing, experienced and cooperative, though enigmatically distant and drifting. Things get in the way, obstacles made of arbitrary parental actions and decisions, space, timing, his constrictive teen existence, his lack of economic freedom.
I found this book very funny. Nick's über-logical approach to things make him undertake courses of action that made me cringe and squirm and giggle (think fellatio with his best male friend), and it occurred to me that, had I read this book as an actual teen I would have been rather shocked. I myself was as rational a teen as Nick is, but I wasn't one to brave borders and stand up to adults. Much. Well, maybe a little, but not in any way as much as Nick. But Nick has no real respect for adults, he's an adult trapped in an adolescent body and in an adolescent's life. As such, being a virgin at his ripe old age of 14 seems to him egregious, and the end will justify all means at his disposal (and then some).
It seems that this is less a believable account of a 14-year-old than the attempt of the same character at 40 to rewrite his past. That would illuminate the latent understanding of adult intentions and levers, the self-deprecating humor, and the candid avowal of the utter simplicity of what he wants: sexual congress, as soon as possible.