Description: Most high school sports teams have rivalries with other schools. At Hamilton High, it's a civil war: the football team versus the soccer team. And for her part, Lissa is sick of it. Her quarterback boyfriend, Randy, is always ditching her to go pick a fight with the soccer team or to prank their locker room. And on three separate occasions Randy's car has been egged while he and Lissa were inside, making out. She is done competing with a bunch of sweaty boys for her own boyfriend's attention.
Lissa decides to end the rivalry once and for all: She and the other players' girlfriends go on a hookup strike. The boys won't get any action from them until the football and soccer teams make peace.
Stats: Young Adult Novel, 273 Pages, First Published by Poppy, 2011.
My Rating: 3 STAR
Shut Out is about sex. And from page one it makes it very clear, this is not about subtlety or masking a message with a pretty package. This is about sex.
More specifically, Shut Out is about the views society has about girls having sex, compared to boys having sex. We've all noticed it at some point in our lives, when it comes to talking about the down and dirty girls are meant to be chaste. Talking about it, thinking about it, and even doing it is not something that most girls are open about. Somehow after centuries of closing the door on the sex-speak we've created our own little set of rules, which can be seen in everything from slut shaming to virgin bashing.
Shut Out takes the story of Lissa trying to end an inner school rivalry by banding together with her fellow girlfriends on a sex-strike (inspired by the Greek play Lysistrata) to question as many sex-based issues as possible. As I stated above, this was not veiled with any sort of subtlety, which for the most part I didn't mind. I could appreciate the message being said, even if it wasn't in the most crafty or clever of ways. However, this is something that I could easily see annoying some people. If you're not interested in the message you're probably not going to be all that thrilled with the story. This book very much has a target audience of younger girls going through the same experiences that the girls in the book are encountering.
But this book isn't just about a message, there's also a plot in there somewhere, and at its core it's very basic. There's a love triangle, there's a family plot line, there's female bonding, and there's the sex strike. That's about it. What sold this for me was the way the characters take this basic plot and try their darndest to add dimensions to it. Our main character Lissa was by far the best part of the book. Her personality and interactions were very entertaining. I could relate to her and actually invest in her plight. The other characters were alright, although they were not very original, each character had some excellent lines! The humor injected dialog was really top-notch. I could have only wished that the characters had more of a something to them because they felt very one-note. I would have liked to have seen more new ideas, instead of the basics tropes I expect from a contemporary YA romance.
What probably ended up making me enjoy this the most was that Shut Out was an easy read. I sat down and was surprised to see that a couple of hours had passed and that I was already finished. The writing was effortless to consume and that's where this really paid off. I could easily see myself reading another of Keplinger's books based off that experience alone.
Shut Out is a book that needs to be shoved in the faces of confused teen girls everywhere. It has ideas that needs to be shared and discussed, if only to balance out the amount of male dominant, slut shaming, virgin bashing, and abusive sexual relationships that are becoming increasingly common in the YA genre. I love this for its message, but can only like it because it lacked a complex story to host all those complex ideas.