Book review: Shut Out by Kody Keplinger

Synopsis: Most high school sports teams have rivalries with other schools. At Hamilton High, it’s a civil 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.

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.

And Lissa never sees her own sexual tension with the leader of the boys, Cash Sterling, coming.

Review: Loosely based on Lysistrata by Aristophanes, Kody Keplinger puts a thoroughly modern spin on the age-old battle of the sexes. What begins as a way to stop the football and soccer teams from maiming each other in a decade-old rivalry turns into a coming-of-age feminist power struggle. Lissa becomes the unlikely leader of the movement after her (detestable) boyfriend takes part in a prank that may have seriously injured another student.

There are several things about Shut Out that stood out to me, and the first is fleshed-out characters. Each has his or her own voice and motivations, which is especially crucial to understanding Lissa, the main character. She has some unlikable traits, but because we know why she has these traits, we forgive her and keep rooting for her.

However, there is one thing about Lissa that comes as a surprise, and I applaud Keplinger for her genius twist — one I was glad to see because it made Lissa even more relatable to a segment of girls that might otherwise have felt a bit awkward with the material.

Another element¬†that stood out was Keplinger’s handling of feminism. It would have been easy to be heavy-handed or even political, but she doesn’t go there. Instead, she raises questions and provides a variety of equally valid answers through the different girls aligned with Lissa’s cause.

And finally, there’s Cash. I don’t want to spoil it, so I’ll just leave you with this: If shelves and shelves of beautiful books turn you on, this is definitely the book for you!

Shut Out is in stores today.

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