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It’s One, Two, Three Strikes You’re Out

Erin tries but can't make it through Kody Keplinger's Shut Out, in which one girl institutes a sex strike to protest against a longstanding sports rivalry. 

It’s One, Two, Three Strikes You’re Out

BOOK REPORT for Shut Out by Kody Keplinger

Cover Story: Brown Bag It
BFF Charm: Meh?
Swoonworthy Scale: 3
Talky Talk: Betty Friedan For The Middle School Crowd
Bonus Factor: Lysistrata
Relationship Status: Book, I Met You A Little Too Late In Life, But Let Me Introduce You To My Little Sister . . .

Cover Story: Brown Bag It

Yikes. Not only did I not pull this book out in public, I didn't even pull it out in private. The cat might have judged me, and then refused to sit on my lap while I read it.

I hate pretty much everything about this cover! I don't want to be that close to any stranger's face! And I get that there's a sports bent, but that eye black stuff looks good on NO ONE. Not even Tim Riggins.

On the other hand, that girl's pores look amazing. Is this photoshop or some awesome beauty secret?! I must know!

The Deal:

At Lissa's high school, the only thing that matters more than the football team or the soccer team is the longstanding rivalry between the football and soccer teams. No one knows how it started, but since soccer pranks keep interrupting Lissa's alone time with her boyfriend Randy, she's pretty annoyed by it.

So she does what any girl who's been told by society that her entire self-worth resides in her vagina would do: she gathers together the girlfriends of all the football and soccer players and institutes a sex strike. No nookie until the rivalry stops . . . but when cute soccer player Cash pits himself against Lissa, who will end up on top? Pun intended.

And guys? I'm going to be totally honest. I only got through about 2/3 of this book before having to put it down. It could turn out that in the end aliens invade earth and all the men are held captive and then women create some utopian Sapphic wonderland and then Dove chocolate bars rain down from the skies. I don't know. I tried to read this book for two weeks and I only progressed 180 pages. I read eight books in between those 180 pages, thinking maybe I just needed a little distraction. Then I gave up.

BFF Charm: Meh?

Don't get me wrong. I felt like I SHOULD like Lissa, because she's all sexually confused and likes reading and is a little high-strung but doesn't judge people, etc. But I just . . . I just don't, really. I don't DISLIKE her. I just don't particularly like her. We don't really have anything in common, being that she's afraid of, well, everything. Plus, I get that she feels like she needs to take care of her brother and father after her mother died in the car accident that left her dad paralyzed, but LORD, Lissa. That doesn't mean you get to nag your TWENTY SIX year old brother about taking out the trash or phoning home to tell you when he's going to be late. LET IT GO, CHILD.

Swoonworthy Scale: 3

I just really didn't feel this book, y'all, and part of that was the romance angle. First of all, the firsthalf of the book is focused on Lissa's relationship with Randy, and RANDY SUCKS OKAY. I think I was supposed to be fooled by his good ol' boy charm, but I wasn't, so when he (SPOILER ALERT) totally cheats on Lissa after she stops giving it up, I was about as shocked as I am when I turn on the news and hear the weatherman say it's going to be another scorcher.

And while there's plenty of below the shirt action with Cash, I just . . . don't see the point of it all. Kody Keplinger has a habit (okay, a two-book habit, but still) of writing steamy sex scenes that wind up feeling sort of . . . perfunctory? Where's the frission? Where are the butterflies in the tummy? Please explain to me why I'm supposed to care about these two people hooking up!

Talky Talk: Betty Friedan For The Middle School Crowd

If you liked The Duff, I'm sure you'll like this book, because it's written in the same style, including the F bombs. And while I appreciated the story of a bunch of girls realizing it's okay to have sex or not have it, talk about it with people and admit to liking it or not liking it, etc, it all just felt a bit like Intro to Sex-Positive Feminism 101. This book is probably perfect for the 13- and 14-year-olds out there who are trying to figure out what the hell sex is and why people don't want them to have it, but for a 31-year-old lady who's been, you know, doing this for a while now, I kinda felt like I was reading a Sesame Street script. Lissa and her fellow sex strikers have these groan-worthy conversations about sex, in which they realize, golly gee whiz, that not everyone feels the same way about sex! Cookie Monster loves to have sex! Elmo's afraid of sex! Grover has sex and pretends to like it but kind of doesn't! And Big Bird only has lots of sex because his parents don't pay attention to him! And Count Dracula? He has a DUNGEON in his house.

Bonus Factor: Lysistrata

This book is a modern retelling of Lysistrata, the classic Aristophanes play about women going on a sex strike in order to end the Peloponnision War. Of course, Lysistrata is full of sexist tripe, but, hey, it's funny sexist tripe.

Casting Call:

Well, Lissa sort of super bores me, so I had to pick someone else who super bores me:

Alexandra Chando as Lissa

I think Alexandra Chando's secret ability is to look like other people. What's with the Joey Potter smile? I'm glad she has a secret ability, though, since she probably shouldn't rely on that acting ability.

Relationship Status: Book, I Met You A Little Too Late In Life, But Let Me Introduce You To My Little Sister . . .

Listen, book. I tried. I really did. Everyone talks about how smart and fresh and authentic you are, and I thought that meant you could hang with the older kids. But at the end of the day, book, you're just too young for me. You're not immature, exactly. It's just that you haven't really had time to fully blossom. Sure, you grasp the basics of why life is so crazy, but I keep waiting for you to blow my mind with something new. And you don't seem to be able to do that.

But, hey. I'm no fool. Just because I don't love you doesn't mean that someone else won't. So I'm going to introduce you to my little sister*. I bet she'll think you're the bee's knees. As for me? Well, I guess there's just not a lot you can do for me.

FTC Full Disclosure: I received my free review copy from Hachette, a division of Little, Brown. No money or cocktails were exchanged for this review (damnit!). Shut Out is available in stores now!

*I don't have a little sister! Want a chance to be my little sister and win this book? Leave a comment and tell me one reason you'd make an awesome sister. Don't forget to subscribe to comments; I'll pick a winner next week!

Erin Callahan's photo About the Author: Erin is loud, foul-mouthed, an unrepentant lover of trashy movies and believes that champagne should be an every day drink. When she isn't drowning in a sea of engineers for whom Dilbert is still uproariously funny, she's writing about books, tv, the cult of VC Andrews and more.
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