Summary: Tori Spring likes to blog and sleep, and that’s all she’s interested in these days. Until one day she follows a trail of Post-its from her locker to the computer lab, where she finds a message from Solitaire, a mysterious group that seems to be taking over the school. At first, Solitaire’s pranks seem like fun and games, but they soon start going too far. Tori doesn’t know what to do with Solitaire, her family, her friends, and let alone her new, unexpected friendship with Michael Holden.
My Rating: 2.5/ 5 Stars
I loved Alice Oseman’s novel, Radio Silence, this summer (I’m still angry at my past self for not writing a full review), and I knew I had to pick up her debut novel, Solitaire. Unfortunately, I didn’t enjoy Solitaire nearly as much as I enjoyed Radio Silence.
Let’s talk about the cover. There is no cover lust here today, as the US cover is completely lacking compared to the UK edition. As you might be able to see from the photo above (mind you I also read a bit battered copy from the library), there isn’t a lot going on in the US cover, and if you really hold the book up to the light, you can see the gray writing above the book’s title. It reads, “This is the story of Tori, Michael, Becky, Lucas, Charlie, And the year that changed everything.” First of all, this story is about TORI. Yes, our other characters are each facing their own issues, but the story is centered around and told by Tori, who is struggling with her mental health. ALSO THIS BOOK DOES NOT TAKE PLACE OVER A YEAR. This is probably a smaller detail to get angry about, but the book takes place over two months max.
Moving on, let’s talk about the book itself and what I did enjoy. Even at 350 or so pages, the book was quite easy to fly through, with its short chapters. Solitaire features LGBT representation and mental health awareness between many of the characters in the book, especially Charlie and Tori. I also actually liked Tori and Michael Holden’s friendship and prayed that it would not turn into a romance. Everyone thought that Michael was this really quirky guy, and well it may be a bit true, HE’S THE ONLY ONE WHO COULD ACTUALLY UNDERSTAND TORI AND COULD HELP HER. Additionally, as stated in her author blurb, Alice Oseman wrote Solitaire when she was 17 and I feel that was really evident in her pop culture references, which I really enjoyed! There were a lot of references to Harry Potter, video games like Mario Kart and Sonic, Star Wars, and more.
Unfortunately, I disliked Solitaire more than the elements that I did enjoy. It took me about one hundred pages to get into the novel, and I finally got into it because Tori and Michael started to form an actual friendship at Becky’s party. I think I had so much trouble connecting to the book because I couldn’t connect to Tori and her friends. Becky, Evelyn and the others in Tori’s friend group were quite annoying, but I don’t know if they were portrayed this way because Tori frankly didn’t like them all that much and the book is told in her POV. Additionally, we know from early on in the novel that Tori’s brother, Charlie, has mental illness, but we learn that Tori is having mental health problems throughout the story, and she often goes to dark places in her mind that I can’t personally relate to. I feel that someone who may or may have experienced similar issues to Tori could relate to her more than I did.
I know that Solitaire is a young-adult novel and all of the characters within the book are between fifteen and seventeen years old, but to me, they felt so young to be dealing with these problems on their own, between Solitaire and their mental health. Thinking back, Tori probably didn’t go to her parents or her teachers because she felt that they wouldn’t understand what she was going through. However, I think Tori’s parents, who do have while small, a presence in the novel, wanted to help their daughter, as they were often helping Charlie. Tori just wouldn’t let them in. I also felt bad for Tori in that she was often responsible for taking care or looking after Charlie in situations where she wasn’t feeling too great herself.
In the end, I would recommend Solitaire to people who are interested in YA books about mental health. Blogging does play part in the novel, but more so in the Solitaire ‘game’ ‘s plot. Tori often mentions how much she loves her blog, but we don’t really get to see her actually working on it.
Have you read Solitaire? Share in the comments!