Before you read this book, ask yourself these questions:
- Are you okay with graphic sex scenes?
- What exactly are you expecting out of this book?
- Are you fine with unlikable characters, or characters that make decisions that you might not ever make? Even if they bend morals or values you’ve known your whole life?
USES FOR BOYS is the type of book that someone could completely hate or just fall in love with, but it really depends on what type of reader you are. Admittedly, it’s not the type of book that would appeal to many YA readers, especially if they’re expecting something completely different.
I’m still not quite sure what I think of Anna, but as the book progresses, you might find that Anna isn’t the most likable of heroines. At times, she’s cold to those who might really care about her, or just manipulative, in order to get what she wants. She also makes a lot of choices that might also be considered “dirty”. Because of that, I admit that I couldn’t quite relate to her character. To an extent, however, I still admired her. By the end of the book, you really can see how strong, loving, and supportive she could be, despite her past. She just goes through so much, just to have life push her back, yet somehow she survived. Her recovery was, in my opinion, remarkable.
What you expect of the book will also make or break your experience. Everything about the cover, and even some parts of the blurb SCREAM a fluffy, humorous, or somewhat happy story. Instead, USES FOR BOYS is much more dark and gritty. Throughout the story, you encounter alcohol, rape, heartbreak, runaways, and so many other things. In fact, you don’t meet Sam (who, as you can see from the blurb, is probably the positive part in Anna’s story) until about 60 or 70% into the book. Before that, Anna had suffered so much. The mood and story definitely weren’t fluffy, except for a few romantic moments with Sam. This is definitely NOT a beach read.
Of course, I’m not saying that’s a bad thing, but rather, maybe something unexpected. The plot might have a sad beginning, but it’s more of a story about learning to move on and recover, even after struggling so much. At times, Anna’s story is heart breaking, but it’s also moving and emotional. By the end of the book, you do also end up with a sense of hope for Anna, for a sort of “new beginning”, and a chance for happiness.
The language is probably my one qualm about the book. As the book went on, sometimes Anna’s voiced seemed detached and a bit jumbled. Sometimes the book also skips around in terms of order of plot events, making it a bit confusing for me. Sometimes some details are also skipped over, so I suppose you also have to infer what had just happened. For this, what I suggest is to read the first few pages, if you get the chance, to see if you’re fine with the language. Eventually, I got used to it, but it could be a bit taxing to get through.
And on an age-appropriateness note, USES FOR BOYS is probably a VERY mature YA novel, maybe even in the New Adult category. There are A LOT of sex scenes, some of them being pretty graphic…
Personally, I found that USES OF BOYS was a moving but very dark story about recovery. If you’re looking for a darker and different type of contemporary, you might want to consider Uses for Boys, although as always, I suggest reading the first few pages or checking the book out at the library to see if the book is for you (:
* A copy of this book was provided for the virtual blog tour. This did not affect my opinion of the book.