Most high school sports teams have rivalries with other schools. At Hamilton High, it's a cival war: the football team versus the soccer team. And for her part, Lissa is sick of it. Her quarterback boyfriend, Randy, is always ditching her to go pick a fight with the soccer team or to prank their locker room. And on three separate occasions Randy's car has been egged while he and Lissa were inside, making out. She is done competing with a bunch of sweaty boys for her own boyfriend's attention.
Then Lissa decides to end the rivalry once and for all: She and the other players' girlfriends go on a hookup strike. The boys won't get any action from them until the football and soccer teams make peace. What they don't count on is a new sort of rivalry: an impossible girls-against-boys showdown that hinges on who will cave to their libidos first. But what Lissa never sees coming is her own sexual tension with the leader of the boys, Cash Sterling . . .
Writing for young teens comes easily to Kody Keplinger - what with her being a young author herself. While I found some themes displayed in the novel a little out there than most young adult novels explore, but she still does a fantastic job in portraying the teenagers of today and the reality of what they experience in their everyday lives. Not to mention there are plenty of lessons to be learned from this book. But what I love most about Keplinger's two novels - this one and her debut novel The Duff - is how she writes in her down-to-earth and hilarious banter that is real and honest.
Loosely based on Lysistrata by Aristophanes, Kody Keplinger manages to pull her own twist to the story, modernize it and in the end make it her own tale. A twisty, sarcastic, high school battle of the sexes tale. What begins as a silly game of pranks to stop the rivalry between the football and soccer teams then turns into something completely out of the teenager's control . . . which then reflects towards the girls who want to put a stop to their boyfriends once and for all. In order to stop their boyfriends and the other teams from going too far, the girlfriends of the boys decide to go on a sex strike and you can imagine the boy's reactions when 'no-sex' is involved. *insert horror face here* I don't particularly want to compare this novel to Keplinger's debut, The Duff, but I can clearly see some similarities between the two novels as sex is the stronger theme in the novel. But with that said, SHUT OUT stands on its own and I enjoyed the majority of the novel.
There are several things that stood out to me in SHUT OUT. For one, it's the feminine power the girls have on their side and I'm all for it. Being a total feminist to the bone, I admire the way the girls handled things however withholding sex isn't exactly the way to go, considering most of their boyfriends were jerks to begin with and weren't exactly great boyfriends either. However, like I said before, I'm a full supporter of girl power. On the other hand, another element I enjoyed was how well-written the sex issue was explored. Most young adults completely shy away from this path of teenage sexuality and sometimes that's a good thing. We, after all, don't want too much raw details. In the novel SHUT OUT, sex was handled nicely however at times I didn't like how open the girls were about their sex lives but perhaps in American society they are less inclined to silence than what I've experienced with 'girl-talk' back here in Australia. We're different I guess. But on a whole, Keplinger handled it with enough grace and integrity to allow me to enjoy it.
When it comes to the cast, I don't mind admitting that I didn't particularly connect to the main character, Lissa. I did and then I didn't. If she were a real character, I know we wouldn't be friends . . . probably because of how she let's her boyfriend, Randy, treat her. If it were me and I had a boyfriend like that disrespectful jerk, he would've been ditched long ago. With her being a little blind-sided by Randy's ways and with her character also having a few negative parts about her, but Lissa was still a decent character and in this case my frustration with her was needed to understand the story better and her for that matter. You'll get what I mean when you eventually come to read this book yourself. With the other supporting cast, I didn't mind Lissa's friends and the jock's girlfriends. Much like Lissa, I wouldn't be friends with these crowds of girls but they were enjoyable to say the least. But let's talk about Cash - the boy everyone is going to love no matter what. Seeing the romance coming from a mile away, there's no denying how freaking hot Cash is. He has a cool name, he has some charm, he's funny, and unlike most jerk boys in the novel, he actually respects Lissa as a person. Thank the Lord. *bows to invisible people* I loved Cash completely and the romance between him and Lissa was really super sweet which readers will fall for immediately.
Overall, I highly recommend SHUT OUT to readers of Kody Keplinger's first novel or any readers who love a good old sometimes-funny and sometimes-sexy contemporary YA novel. While it didn't win my heart as much as Keplinger's The Duff novel, but it follows close behind and it will entertain you on many levels as you reach the final page. I'm definitely looking forward to see what Kody Keplinger comes up with next with her third novel, A Midsummer's Nightmare, which is due sometime this year!