Tuesday, May 18, 2010
Review: The Tension of Opposites by Kristina McBride
Tessa’s best friend Noelle was kidnapped off the street two years ago. For two years, Tessa has held on to the small sliver of hope that Noelle might still be alive. She has even put her own life on hold while waiting, trying not to make new friends or experience high school things like falling in love while Noelle is gone.
Then, Tessa gets the news that changes her life yet again. Noelle is alive. But her two years in captivity have changed her a lot, and she’s no longer the girl Tessa remembers her to be. Tessa is torn between growing into her own person with a first love, and staying loyal to her hurt and hurtful friend.
THE TENSION OF OPPOSITES is one of the nicest contemporary realistic YA fiction novels I’ve read in a long time. This is a great achievement by debut author Kristina McBride, easy readable, and full of relatable characters and turbulent emotions.
Kristina McBride’s writing pulls us into Tessa’s world from the very first page, and carefully explores the pain and confusion of the effects of trauma on a friendship. Tessa’s struggles to balance her own happiness with that of her friend’s is extremely well drawn, its subtleties clear and real. It’s not that we may necessarily agree with all of Tessa’s actions and beliefs: it’s more that we can see why she chooses to do what she does, just like a confused teenager dealing with a terrifyingly strange situation would.
The characterization is good, but not quite as good as I thought it could’ve been. Oftentimes Tessa’s inner turmoil seemed detached from her borderline cheeky conversations with her crush and friends. I also wanted to get a better sense of Tessa and Noelle’s friendship before the kidnapping, to contrast that with the drastically different relationship shown us in the novel. Noelle’s development felt choppy sometimes, one minute harsh, the next almost unconvincingly vulnerable. And I was unconvinced that Max, the love interest, would fall immediately for Tessa and continue to pursue her after she so continually pushes him away. This is more wishful thinking for how teenage relationships go, than reality.
But perhaps these small issues I had with the book are actually regular behaviors for people in this situation, because one of the greatest things about THE TENSION OF OPPOSITES is that it is a prototype: I have not read anything like it before. And the small issues are basically me nitpicking anyway. Overall, this book was a fantastic read, and goes down like a smooth cup of your favorite refreshing beverage, with a thoughtful aftertaste.
Overall Rating: 4 out of 5
Cover discussion: 4.5 out of 5 - There are so many elements in this cover that, at the hands of a less nuanced artist, would not work together. But here, it's awesome. I love pretty much everything about this cover, and think that they all show different sides about this book.
EgmontUSA / May 25, 2010 / Hardcover / 288pp. / $16.99
ARC received as part of Around the World Tours.
P.S. Have you seen the trailer for this book yet? Check it out below! Thanks, Kristina, for bringing this to my attention!