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  • ARC Review: Eliza and Her Monsters by Francesca Zappia
  • ARC Review: The Secrets We Keep by Trisha Leaver
  • Review: A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas
  • Review: Titans by Victoria Scott
  • Review: Karmic Hearts by Jhing Bautista

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

ARC Review: The Oracle of Dating by Allison van Diepen

Special thanks to Net Galley for the copy!

I know Kai has written a review of the book here, but I just had to write my own.

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This book was highly recommended by Kai. She said the main character reminded her of me. That being said, the expectations have been set high. A story that kinda parallels my lovelife? This has got to be good.

Title: The Oracle of Dating
Author: Allison van Diepen
Pages: 256

Summary:

No one at Kayla’s school knows she’s the famous Oracle of Dating—the anonymous queen of dating advice, given through her own Web site. Kayla doesn’t even have a boyfriend. Two relationship disasters were enough to make her focus on everyone else’s love life. But then her advice backfires on her own best friend. And Kayla starts to seriously obsess about Jared Stewart—the very cute, very mysterious new guy in school. Suddenly, the teen queen of advice needs her own oracle of dating--and she knows just where to find one...

There was minimal skepticism before I started The Oracle of Dating. I was doubtful of the capabilities of a sixteen-year-old running a dating advice service. And to actually earn money from it? That’s stretching the believability of the story quite a bit. But setting aside my skeptic self, I finally satisfied my curiosity and started reading the story which I am supposed to be able to relate to.

The first chapter began with a list, a New Year’s Resolution (in September) to be exact. That quickly got my attention, not the list itself, but the randomness that Kayla wrote.

For a sixteen-year-old, Kayla is quite level-headed and a cut above the average in her school. She’s quite popular. Generally, everyone likes her. She’s surrounded by a good mix of friends. Kayla is living a pretty normal life, despite keeping a secret. She is THE Oracle of Dating, the master behind the website of the same name.

In typical teen fashion, Kayla falls for brooding, almost social outcast artist, Jared. And in true high school drama, Kayla is conflicted with her feelings for him. She knows she’s attracted to him, but she’s also unsure if Jared feels the same way. She keeps her distance from him, yet finds herself more drawn to him than ever. She sets rules and boundaries, only to break them eventually. And we understand her, because it’s Jared.

Like a two-for-one bargain, Jared is more than just an artist who can draw really, really well, he also plays in a band. He has the genetic makeup of a loner, but none of the rebellious teen persona we read most often about, despite coming from a broken family and being in foster care for most of his adolescent life.

The Oracle of Dating is more than just a YA fiction with a happily ever after. It also serves as a teen self-help or guide book to dating. Aside from giving advices to clients, Kayla also writes essays where she gives tips and insights on first date kisses, flirting, speed dating, and other relationship stuff.

Still, being the Oracle does not mean that Kayla is always right. She can’t help getting personal with her advices. It makes her real and more human. Her flaws endear her to us. Her emotions are raw. We can’t deny the affinity as she goes through the ups and downs of her somewhat complicated relationship with Jared. As an outsider, we may consider her worries petty, but through Kayla’s eyes, we remember how hard it is to like and fall for someone without the assurance of being liked back. We agree with her when she says, “Attraction is often accompanied by delusion.”

Interesting to look out for is Kayla’s relationships with her family, particularly with her stepfather and her big sister. I don’t have a sister that’s why I kinda envy Kayla and Tracey’s bond, despite their ten-year gap. With her stepfather, it is heartwarming to see Kayla finally break down the wall and finally acknowledge his existence in their lives.

Not only are the main characters relatable, but the minor characters as well. If we can’t picture ourselves in them, we can see one of our friends instead. We all know a Viv whose parents are strict, a Sharese who’s pining for a Mike P., a Ryan guy friend whose sexuality others find questionable, and an Amy whose boyfriend Chad is an extended part of the gang. If I were Kayla, I can easily point out who among my friends share the same personality with these characters.

The book’s cute and fitting cover easily attracts YA fans. It’s not too formal that one may mistake it for a self-help book, given the title. At first glance, I know I would immediately pick it up at the bookstore without hesitation.

The Oracle of Dating offers a fresh take on the typical high school romance dilemma. The story does not rush the ending, but it does not necessarily slow down the pace with redundant scenes. Conflicts are resolved one by one, that as the whole thing plays out, you don’t have to worry about the ending being too jam-packed with resolutions that the main point gets lost in all the clutter.

As all teen fictions go, we know Kayla and Jared’s roller-coaster ride of emotions will eventually lead them to each. But like overly-used cliché, it’s not the destination, but the journey that matters. And surely, Allison van Diepen delivers a delightful story with lots of humor and fun, spoonfuls of lessons, and a great deal of life and love.

Content (plot, story flow, character):


Stunning: Worthy of a Goddess' Praise!

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