Monday, February 15, 2016

Book Review: Joyride

Title: Joyride
Author: Anna Banks
Publisher: Feiwel and Friends
Publication Date: June 2, 2015
Source: From Author for Review
A popular guy and a shy girl with a secret become unlikely accomplices for midnight pranking, and are soon in over their heads—with the law and with each other—in this sparkling standalone from NYT-bestselling author Anna Banks.

It’s been years since Carly Vega’s parents were deported. She lives with her brother, studies hard, and works at a convenience store to contribute to getting her parents back from Mexico.

Arden Moss used to be the star quarterback at school. He dated popular blondes and had fun with his older sister, Amber. But now Amber’s dead, and Arden blames his father, the town sheriff who wouldn’t acknowledge Amber's mental illness. Arden refuses to fulfill whatever his conservative father expects.

All Carly wants is to stay under the radar and do what her family expects. All Arden wants is to NOT do what his family expects. When their paths cross, they each realize they’ve been living according to others. Carly and Arden’s journey toward their true hearts—and one another—is funny, romantic, and sometimes harsh.   

My Review

Anna Banks' contemporary YA novel, Joyride, is a book I had my eye on all last spring and summer. Upon discovering it, I thought the book looked adorable, diverse, modern, and fun. Even though I really wanted to read Banks' Joyride I put buying it on the back burner until I read a few more of the purchased books on my shelves. All of that changed when Anna offered copies to bloggers, and I just knew that I had to take advantage of her offer and review this sweet YA novel.

Joyride is a unique YA book, and it really surprised me. There are a lot of things going on in this novel, and a huge theme in the book is family. While reading, readers will learn about both Carly Vega and Arden Moss. Although the two are from completely different walks of life, they have problems at home. For Carly, it's the fact that her parents were deported years ago. She knows it's wrong, but she and her brother have to find a way to get them back. Arden's family is also dealing with incompleteness. They are mourning the loss of his sister, and Arden blames his dad for everything that happened to Amber and the rest of their family.

I also enjoyed the diversity in Joyride. From the synopsis, I figured that there would be references to Mexican culture and life in the book. What I didn't really expect was the exploration of illegal immigration. Honestly, I thought that if it was mentioned, it would only be minor details, but that's not the case at all. Obviously illegal immigration is something that happens in the United States every day. It seems like we can't go a day without it being mentioned on the news or without a politician addressing it, especially at the Mexican border. It was eye-opening and refreshing to see the issue addressed in a Young Adult novel. While I think a lot more could have been said about the issue, it was really great to see Ms. Banks address a current issue in fiction. It's a great start, and I'm sure that this book will get people talking.

Other hot issues are addressed in this novel that I think will appeal to fans of contemporary YA novels. Ms. Banks includes characters with mental illnesses and explores how it affects an entire family. She addresses unhappy families and overbearing parents or parental figures. She also includes a modern, yet watered down take on Bonnie and Clyde.

The characters in Joyride were okay. I really admired Carly Vega. She hasn't had the easiest life, dealing with her parents' deportation, working odd hours, and living in a trailer park with her older brother, but she tries to stay as positive as she can. She also knows that she needs to stay as invisible as possible so that she and her brother can bring their parents back home. She'd be a great role model for the teens reading this book because she's tenacious and such a hard worker. Then there's Arden Moss. He's pretty much the antithesis of Carly. He's never had to struggle with money like Carly because he comes from a wealthy family. He also likes to pull pranks on the unsuspecting people of his Florida county, and he knows that he won't get in trouble because his father is the sheriff. When the two meet, everything changes, and it was enjoyable to see the changes that they brought out in one another.

Although I enjoyed the book, I had just one major problem with it - the narration. When one first starts reading Joyride, they are greeted by Carly's narration. Obviously, she narrates in first person, Sometimes, it's exciting, but other times, it's a little dull. Sometimes her narration doesn't seem like a teenager's voice, but I think that stems from her needing to act like an adult instead of a teenager. Other than that, I enjoyed reading from her point of view. She has a lot to say, and I liked seeing the emotional side of her come out from time to time. There's also a different type of narration in this book - third person. A third person narrator tells readers everything that Arden Moss is feeling and doing. To be honest, I'm not entirely sure why Ms. Banks didn't just write his chapters in first person. I'm sure she has her reasons, but the differences in narration style just seem to interrupt the flow of the novel.

I enjoyed reading Anna Banks' Joyride. It's a cute and fresh YA novel that will appeal to a few different groups of readers. There's a little bit of adventure. There's a little romance, and there's a lot of love for family. I'd recommend this book for anyone looking for something diverse that tackles political issues. I think any fan of contemporary YA would enjoy this sweet book.

Anna Banks is the author of the New York Times bestselling Syrena Legacy: Of Poseidon, Of Triton, and Of Neptune and Joyride. She lives in Crestview, on the Florida Panhandle, with her husband and her daughter.

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