Book review: The Exact Opposite of Okay by Laura Steven

Title: The Exact Opposite of Okay by Laura Steven

Publisher: Electric Monkey

Publication date: 8 March 2018

Genre: Contemporary| Young Adult

Page extent: 337 pages

Goodreads blurb: Izzy O’Neill is an aspiring comic, an impoverished orphan, and a Slut Extraordinaire. Or at least, that’s what the malicious website flying round the school says. Izzy can try all she wants to laugh it off – after all, her sex life, her terms – but when pictures emerge of her doing the dirty with a politician’s son, her life suddenly becomes the centre of a national scandal. Izzy’s never been ashamed of herself before, and she’s not going to start now. But keeping her head up will take everything she has…

So this book is now one of my all time favourites. It is so fucking funny and so topical and just utterly fantastic in every single way. This book had me completely sold from around page 20 with “Little Bo Peep has lost her sheep and doesn’t know where to find them, largely because Little Bo Peep is fucking irresponsible and should not be in charge of livestock” which I could not stop laughing at for 5 minutes straight.

The Exact Opposite of Okay follows Izzy O’Neill, a sex positive and hilarious teen as pictures are released online and sent around her school of her having sex with a politician’s son. Izzy tries to ignore the constant calls of ‘Slut’ and ‘Whore’ with limited success as the situation spirals out of control.

I loved absolutely everything about this book – Laura Steven is one of the funniest writers I’ve ever read, and I am so excited for everything else she does. The humour really helps lighten the otherwise very heavy and topical subject matter which crosses revenge porn, feminism, gender equality, the friendzone, slut shaming, and ‘Nice Guy’ syndrome. It’s an utterly captivating and wild comedic journey through the life of a teen girl who actually enjoys having sex. And is obviously therefore vilified for it. The discussions around the treatment of men and women (‘player’ vs ‘whore’) are nuanced and throughly feminist. I particuarly enjoyed the introdution and development of the ‘nice guy’ syndrome – the age old truth that if you have to say you’re a nice guy, you really really aren’t. This book is the perfect starting point for so many discussions with teens about these issues which are so goddamn important.

What an absolutely spectacular range of charcters as well. Izzy, the MC, is extremely sarcastic, full of sass, so honest about herself and so so brave in the face of unimaginable odds. Ajita, her best friend, who is just amazing – so supportive. Danny, Izzy’s friend who seems to now be falling for her and doesn’t get why she doesn’t like him. Everyone knows a Danny. I dislike him more than I dislike the more openly hostile men – the nice guy/friendzone jerks are just so much worse somehow. At least the regular jerks openly admit they only want to fuck you… Betty, Izzy’s grandma, was lovely as well – though I did feel she needed to do a little more parenting.

Laura Steven takes some really dark, tricky topics and has created a book filled with humour and hope and so much anger and passion. It is both a feminist manifesto and comedy gold and I adored every single page.

“What do I want to be now? Bold. Fierce. Honest. A fighter. A revolutionary. A bitch. Because the way the world treats teenage girls – as sluts, as objects, as bitches – is not okay. It’s the exact opposite of okay.” 

Paws out,
Rach + Draco

P.S I of course immediately bought the sequel and I’m planning to read it this month and cannot wait!

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