Release Day: 2nd December, 2010
Publisher: David Fickling Books
If someone hurts your sister and you're any kind of man, you seek revenge, right? If your brother's been accused of a terrible crime and you're the main witness, then you banish all doubt and defend him. Isn't that what families do? When Mikey's sister claims a boy assaulted her at a party, his world of work and girls begins to fall apart. When Ellie's brother is charged with a crime, but says he didn't do it, her world of revision, exams and fitting in with a new school begins to unravel. When Mikey and Ellie meet, two worlds collide. Brave and conflicting, this is a novel of extraordinary skillfulness and almost unbearable tension. It's a book about loyalty and the choices that come with it. But above all it's a book about love - from one's family and for another.
I had very high expectations before I started this book. I've heard the many praises about it and although I haven't read Jenny Downham's previous novel, Before I Die, the storyline seemed very promising and indeed I was right. It's quite unusual for me to love a book like this since I don't usually read contemporary-like books. To be honest, YOU AGAINST ME didn't exactly BLOW my mind, but with all the intense emotions running throughout the book . . . it was certainly a very well thought out book and beautifully-written, leaving you with a very calm feeling by the time you reach the last page of the book. And I liked that feeling.
The main thing I loved about YOU AGAINST ME was the switching of points of view between the two main characters, Ellie and Mikey. Both of them are going through a very difficult time and it was great to see what's going through their minds, comparing their sides of the story and the two worlds they live in. As for the romantic relationship itself, the way it builds between these two characters . . . finally for ONCE it felt realistic and believable and it kind of reminded me of a Romeo & Juliet style of a relationship, but with a more modern day feel to it. Sometimes the characters were selfish and stupid, but as the pages kept on flipping and you suddenly become addicted to the storyline, you can then completely understand why they did what they did and I'm glad the way things turned out.
Now as for the general topic of the book - that being rape - that again, like the relationship itself, seemed very real to me too. Rape is a very sensitive issue that we talk about and explore in today's society and sometimes when it's portrayed in young adult books, it can also become quite a frightening and uncomfortable discussion. Especially nowadays. But not for me, not when it comes down to this particular book. I think the author, Jenny Downham, wrote the issue of rape with complete seriousness and most importantly she wrote it in a way that sympathizes with all of the characters involved. For that being the families that have to suffer along with the victims, and for that I was grateful with how well written that was!
While the ending didn't exactly resolve everything, but it leaves the reader to question things on their own terms and decide for themselves what would've happened if all the questions were answered. I like those guessing endings if they're done well and it definitely was. Nonetheless, YOU AGAINST ME is a fast-paced and a beautiful love story in its own way! With the likes of love, loyalty, and courage being displayed throughout the book . . . it only goes to show that you would do anything for family and protect those you love the most! It was bloody brilliant!