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I've been thinking of reading the Internet Girls series since ttyl first came out in 2004. The covers are cute and I tend to like these sorts of teenage epistilatory novels.
When I mentioned once that I wanted to read the series the person I was talking to said I shouldn't bother. I wouldn't like them, I was told. I don't know if this person honestly though I wouldn't like it or if I was being protected from the discussion of teenage sex.
I ignored the warning and borrowed the book from my library last year when it was on display for Banned Books week. Yes, last year, as in 2009. I have a list of books I want to review that is seven pages long, single spaced. Ttyl has been sitting at the top of the list for just over a year.
After checking it out, I took myself and the book to a nearby coffee shop. I got myself a Frappé to cool down. We were in the middle of our typical early October heatwave. So there I sat, sipping cold coffee through a straw until I had finished the entire book.
The book is about three friends in tenth grade: Angela (SnowAngel), Maddie (mad maddie) and Zoe (zoegirl) who share the news and argue about stuff and try to keep each other out of trouble all via instant messages. In the book there's talk of religion, sex, adults trying to take advantage of teens and the more mundane aspects of tenth grade.The book has its dramatic moments and some ones that made me cringe because I was worried for the characters or annoyed at their poor decisions.
That said, I have two small quibbles with the book: the slang and the typesetting.
There are times when the slang doesn't flow right and doesn't feel genuine. The author tries to stick with actual slang and sometimes that works and sometimes it falls flat because the context is wrong or pacing is off. My favorite example of teenage slang is the mostly made up stuff that Georgia Nicholson speaks in the series by Louise Rennison.
The typesetting is annoying because it's too fancy. Each character has her own font and her own color. Plus the emoticons they use look nothing like any of the little icons that Yahoo!, AIM or iChat or similar IM options use. Nor are they the text emoticons either. Instead they are custom jobs for the fonts and they look out of place. I realize that chat text can be modified to a custom font, color and size these fonts are just too fancy for the typical chat window.
In light of those two quibbles, I've given the book a 4 out 5 instead of the full 5 stars.
Comment #1: Saturday, November, 6, 2010 at 03:53:23
Oh never heard of this book. Sounds somewhat interesting. humm Have a good weekend!
Comment #2: Wednesday, November 10, 2010 at 16:55:35
You'll find it in the young adult section if you're interested. Happy reading.
Comment #3: Saturday, November, 6, 2010 at 08:32:56
I found the "IM-speak" unbearable after awhile. Honestly, I've no clue if that is really the way teenaged girls talk to each other but after awhile it Really got on my nerves.
Comment #4: Wednesday, November 10, 2010 at 16:57:38
The constant typeface and color changes got to be hard one eyes. As far as the actual slang used in the IMs it felt dated and forced. But those two annoyances aside, I did still like the book.
Comment #5: Saturday, November, 6, 2010 at 09:15:10
Great review! Yeah, I'm not a fan of "fancy" in a book. I want to lose myself in the words, not be impressed by how pretty or colorful they are.
Comment #6: Wednesday, November 10, 2010 at 17:00:19
Colored inks can really add something to a book, such as the contextual clues that the red and green give in The Neverending Story but here for what amounts to a bunch of text messages the use of a different color and typeface for each characer was overkill and a visual distraction from the story.