Joint Book Review: Audrey Wait! by Robin Benway aka the coolest author EVER

We are currently in the midst of 3 days of Audrey Wait! love. Today, we are whetting your appetite with our book review. Later this week, we will feature an interview with author Robin Benway and a playlist she made for us! That’s right, a SUMMER PLAYLIST from ROBIN BENWAY. If you have read Audrey Wait! already, you know she’s a huge music fan with great taste. If you haven’t read Audrey Wait! yet, well, it’s basically the most exciting thing ever. So check back! And after reading our review, hopefully you will be inspired to pick up the book!

-Mary

How Excited Were We To Read Audrey Wait! by Robin Benway? 10! We are even going all third person to tell you about it! Mary loves this book. She’s re-read it before. And every time, she gives Robin Benway a virtual fist pump (that’s a thing) for being so awesome. Elizabeth wholeheartedly agrees.

How Excited Were We When We Finished This Book?: 10! Virtual fist pump again!

Book Jacket: When her ex writes a break-up song about her that rockets up the charts, Audrey is suddenly famous–she can’t go out without being mobbed by fans and paparazzi. Readers can take a wild ride with Audrey as she makes headlines, confronts her ex on MTV, and shows the world who she really is. This irresistible, fast-paced novel has a totally hot new paperback cover! Its the song everyone’s singing. And its about her! But for Audrey, becoming famous overnight equals total, life-changing disaster. . .

Review:

Mary’s Take – In writing this review, I tried to pinpoint what makes Audrey Wait! such a favorite of mine. The first thing I noticed while re-reading the book is that I kept wanting to underline sentences to quote in this review. Because Robin Benway nails teen girl.

Not tortured teen girl. Ordinary teen girl who just happens to be someone you actually want to hang out with. As much as I love many of the characters in young adult novels, I get the feeling that some of the more introspective could be a bit, well, insufferable in real life. But Audrey Wait! is peopled with persons I’d want as my friends… starting with Audrey!

Audrey has moments where she feels sorry for herself, but over all she handles being thrust into the limelight with aplomb. She starts trends, makes mistakes, and as a bonus happens to find an awesome guy. There’s actually not all that much Drama (capital D-style) in this book. And that is just fine. More than fine. Audrey is someone whose every day you can relate to. She scoops ice cream and loves concerts. I totally dig that. (and yes, I just said “dig,” Audrey would tell me that was the dorky, but not in a judgmental way, obvs).

Like in many young adult novels, Audrey definitely grows up over the course of the book. But she manages to do this growing within an interesting plot and while largely avoiding the drama that’s just sitting there waiting to be dove into. When things are rough, there isn’t much moping at all. She actually has a good relationship with her parents! And awesome friends! So what is the story really about?

To my mind, it’s all about the relationships. The every day, non-world-is-ending kind.

I love her relationship with her best friend Victoria. (She never refers to her as her BFF. See what a breath of fresh air we’re dealing with here?) Victoria is fierce, fiercely loyal, and a whole lot more intense than Audrey. As described in the book: If you ever meet Victoria, do not call her Vick, Vicky, Victor, Victrola, Vicious, or anything other than Victoria. If you’re feeling both immortal and bored, though, call her Vicks VapoRub.

She solves problems with lists (smart girl) and has her priorities mostly in line. She gave up TV and then “fell off the wagon” and began watching again. That is definitely something I would do/say. And as an audience, I appreciate that.

The other relationship I loved was that between Audrey and her parents. Exhibit A (sorry, can’t resist, I really love the writing in this book!):

My dad started shaking his head. “Audrey, are you ever going to be a normal teenager? Ever?”

I thought about it for several seconds. “Hopefully not. Is that the right answer?”

By the time I hung up with Victoria, got up off the floor with just some bruises and wounded pride, and used half a bottle of nail polish remover to clean up with bathroom (“It looks like someone staged a revolution in here,” my mom said when she brought me more cotton balls), we were able to address “the James situation.” My dad’s words, not mine. As far as I was concerned, I had addressed “the James situation” last week in the freezer, and on every workday since then.

But my parents had other ideas.

“You can go out on three conditions,” my mom said after I hobbled downstairs. “One, your father and I have to meet him first.”

“You’re going to love him!” I squealed. “He’s so… so… well, he’s kind of nerdy, but in that really cute Rivers-Cuomo-from-Weezer way.”

“Oh, totally, I know,” my dad said. “That’s exactly what I thought when I met your mother.”

“Am I being mocked?” my mom and I both asked at the same time.

So that was a long excerpt, but see what I mean? That’s a normal teen-parent relationship! Referring to a daughter’s potential boyfriend as “the James situation.” Ha! I love it. And admittedly, I totally get the Rivers-Cuomo-from-Weezer way of cute, but I also totally get that a parent would play along straight-faced. Maybe I just like seeing normal but awesome parents. I like mine too. [Elizabeth does too!!]

This book even nails dialogue between Victoria and Audrey’s parents. An under-used source of hilarity – the best friend-parent dynamic is awesome. And right on again. I’d show you, but then this post would become 20 pages.

 

There are no wizards in this book, the female lead kicks butt only figuratively, the swoon-factor is secondary… but from this review hopefully you have begun to see why it remains my favorite contemporary YA novel. It’s really all about the characters and the writing. And isn’t that the way it always should be?!

Elizabeth’s take – Wow! Following Mary is not easy. But I totally agree with everything she said. Except I think that MY favorite part is how Audrey recognizes the absurdity of all the hype. I’d like to think I would have stayed as cool as Audrey through the whole debacle, but I wouldn’t have. I would have totally accepted like cool sunglasses to wear and all those perks. Does that make me materialistic? [Insert by Mary: cool sunglasses? THAT is what you go to? My bedazzled iphone would allow me to avoid the glare of the sun whenever necessary...] But throughout it all, Audrey remains her cool self, with only a few forays into stress and trouble. She reminds herself she’s normal, and that is sometimes the hardest thing of all. I’m not sure how she did not get caught up in any of it, but I admire her immensely for it.

Sexual Tension: Robin Benway’s characters fall for boys that like them! And are nice to them! And not, like them from afar but can’t act on their feelings-type like (well, maybe when it’s just a crush and they’re working together at the ice cream shop… but not in a worlds-may-be-doomed way). (Also no instant magic love connection. Yay!… I think I read too many fantasy books.) Gasp! Mary loves that she portrays normal, healthy teen relationships. And keeps going on about it. Can we get some more of that please, YA author-verse?

Re-Readability: So high. The Weezer reference may start to feel dated, but the book still feels fresh [Elizabeth insert: I had to google Rivers Cuomo but I totally understand now.]. Especially in a world of crazy media scrutiny and 15 minutes of fame for just about anything, it just becomes more plausible. Elizabeth remembers seeing an interview with the person who inspired “Hey There Delilah” by the Plain White T’s and thinking it’s just like Audrey Wait! However, she thought an interview with Audrey would have been way more interesting. Mary says, “Amen, sister!”

Sister Factor: No sisters. But don’t worry, Robin Benway can nail those relationships too. Just check out The Extraordinary Secrets of April, May, and June!

Recommended for: Everyone! But really, anyone who wants to see why YA novels are fun and what a really, really good one actually looks like.

If You Liked This Book You Should Also Check Out: Robin’s second book, The Extraordinary Secrets of April, May, and June, is equally great. We just have a soft spot for Audrey Wait! as the book that introduced us to her writing and back to YA in general. Also, Elizabeth notes that she hasn’t read it yet, but The Kiss Off by Sarah Billington sounds kind of like the opposite of Audrey Wait!. As in the protagonist is the one who writes a song about an ex. Its similarities to Audrey Wait! mean she probably won’t be able to resist it for long. For more music-related books, check back later this week – Mary’s putting together a round-up of our favorites in honor of Audrey (and Robin Benway!) Week!