As you may seen, recently I took part in my first ever blog tour and the very lovely Diane Messidoro did a lovely guest post for me about her debut novel, How To Keep A Boy As A Pet. I actually read this book a few weeks ago, however a big uni deadline (50% in total of my masters is handed in now, which scares me a lot) and assorted other things meant I couldn’t get around to writing my review until now. Sorry Electric Monkey and Diane, but I hope this is better a little later than the release date than never.
Having read a lot of ‘serious’ and ‘gritty’ YA of late, and writing something of that ilk myself, I have to admit How To Keep A Boy As A Pet was a breath of fresh air to me. It had me laughing hysterically and also conveyed some serious themes as well, particularly parental abandonment and bullying, without making it depressing. The humour and themes made the characters feel really well and the entire book had a heartfelt vibe around it. From the cover you can see it looks fun, and it is, but there’s more below the surface too.
The best thing about this book for me was the main character, Circe. I really empathised with her and she had a really individual voice. The book is told as her blog entries as she searches for a hot topic to write about in her quest to become a journalist. She decides to write about how to tame a boy like a pet, is it even possible? Enter Rufus; moody, broody and utterly annoying. Circe isn’t even sure she likes him so her best friend and blog reader both point out he is perfect for the task.
How To Keep A Boy As A Pet is a wonderfully funny and relatable tale about first romance and as well as our relationships with our parents. Both Rufus and Circe have different issues with their parents and I was interested in how this affected not only the two of them as individuals but as a couple. While I really didn’t like Rufus at first, and as we see him through Circe’s eyes it’s no surprise, but then I realised the two of them worked together really well and I thought they were a great teenage couple.
The more serious themes about parents were well handled too, just in that fine balance between realistic and angst. I really liked that although the themes were heavy, the characters weren’t too angsty and the tone of the novel wasn’t depressing.
While older teens will probably enjoy this and it is mature enough for them, it really reminded me of the books I used to read like Louise Rennison and Cathy Hopkins when I was about 12-13. This is a big compliment for me. All three writers portray the humorous contemporary and utterly British feel to UKYA and I think fans of Hopkins and Rennison must check out this book as you will love it! I received my copy for free as part of the blog tour from the publishers. As always, my content or feeling about a book is not affected by the means in which I obtain it.