Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Review: Catching Jordan by Miranda Kenneally


Review: Catching Jordan by Miranda Kenneally
Rating: Fun football, non-traditional protagonist, being friends with boys, romaaaance, some characters you just love and some you want to shake very roughly in the hope that the merest trickle of common sense permeates their very thick skulls. All in all, an adorable and fun read with only minor issues.
 
Catching Jordan (Hundred Oaks, #1)
 
ONE OF THE BOYS

What girl doesn't want to be surrounded by gorgeous jocks day in and day out? Jordan Woods isn't just surrounded by hot guys, though-she leads them as the captain and quarterback of her high school football team. They all see her as one of the guys and that's just fine. As long as she gets her athletic scholarship to a powerhouse university.

But everything she's ever worked for is threatened when Ty Green moves to her school. Not only is he an amazing QB, but he's also amazingly hot. And for the first time, Jordan's feeling vulnerable. Can she keep her head in the game while her heart's on the line?
 
I was completely sold on the premise of a female quarterback who only hangs out with a bunch of guys. I LOVE football, and though I'm not remotely tomboy-ish, I've got a twin brother and all my cousins are boys, and as kids all we did was climb things and throw things and beat each other up, so I love reading books about boys and girls as friends. In those respects, Catching Jordan didn't disappoint. The plot and prose are uncluttered, unflowery, and flow with ease.
 
With eeeeease
 
In which Gillian takes a politically correct detour your are most definitely allowed to skip
(However, in some instances, the sexual politics of Jordan's high school made me a little… well, wary, I guess? Don’t get me wrong, the book wasn’t offensive in anyway, and obviously it’s dealing with the very traditionally-gendered culture of Southern high school football, but I pursed my lips a couple of times. Don’t worry, I’m not putting on my rant-y pants or anything. (I always give warning when I put on my rant-y pants.) I’m only mentioning it because I noticed it, and I always mention the things that bother me. But I’m sensitive to that kind of thing— the usage/definition of the word “slut” and the casual employment of a derogatory term for lesbian. While the slut thing is dealt with somewhat by tomboy Jordan, who grows to be pretty comfortable with herself in that regard, the homophobia thing wasn’t. Which, you know, gets under my skin. Again, this book is NOT HOMOPHOBIC. Neither is Jordan, nor is the author, I'm sure. And it may be realistic for Tennessean cheerleaders to toss those words around pejoratively (um… no offense, you lovely, open-minded Tennesseans out there, I’ve been to  your state and it’s swell), but I would have liked one moment where Jordan was like, “Whoa, not cool.”)
 
Okay. Back to our regularly scheduled reviewing. Especially since Jordan is pretty kickass about putting misogynists in their place when it comes to her playing football. She’s a bit too judgmental of other girls, which is understandable, though, considering a couple of the cliché cheerleaders are MEGA HEINOUS BITCHES.
 
 
Jordan is driven and passionate. She wants to play college ball at Alabama, even though her NFL QB Dad doesn't approve, but football is her life, and she's going to make it happen no matter what. That's kind of determination is really easy to admire. I rooted for Jordan from the get-go. Hanging out with a bunch of emotionally stunted boys, though, makes it hard for her to express her feelings, which is why she takes up journaling. I loooved Jordan's little poems, which show up at the end of nearly every chapter. They were blunt and beautiful and made me love her more. Well, except when she said this:
 
“Still, writing’s a weak thing to be doing. At least compared to playing quarterback. Or eating those scalding 911 wings that made me and Ty cry at the Titans game.”

Jordan, girl, I’m really starting to become fond of you. Don’t make me punch you.

But it’s okay, I never had to punch her because Jordan's way cool. Her love of writing grows, and she becomes more comfortable with who she is, both by herself and in all of her relationships. Watching Jordan blossom was one of the best things about Catching Jordan. I loved seeing her come into her own and find her place in the world. All in all, there were three things I absolutely loved in Catching Jordan: Jordan’s journey, the football, and Sam Henry.
 
I was raised in a family of football fanatics. My brother, dad, and I scream vicious obscenities at our TV every Sunday. My mom openly wept one year the Patriots lost the Super Bowl. And you will not utter the word “Packers” in my presence for at least six months if you know what’s good for you. So naturally, I loved being in the mind of a quarterback and being a part of a fictional team. If you’re not remotely interested in football, then honestly, you might not get this book. The love of the game is a big part of it. But then again, there are hot boys and romantic misunderstandings, so I say give it a try regardless.
 
Jordan’s teammates are another highlight. I loved the sense of camaraderie amongst all the boys and “Woods”, as they call Jordan. She’s their quarterback, captain, and friend. She’s a highly respected member of the pack. It was honestly pretty sweet. But none were as sweet as one Sam Henry, Jordan’s adorable and funny best friend, even though he was the one I wanted to shake the most, and rather violently. People in this book are astoundingly oblivious about very obvious things, Henry and Jordan in particular, and to some extent Jordan's dad. Most of the drama centered around their ability to perceive things clearly, and they were all in desperate need of a good get a grip friend. But I really loved all three of those characters, so I gave them the benefit of the doubt. Plus, Henry and Jordan's friendship was really beautiful, with a lot of hilarious, affectionate banter and a lot of history. He's totally the hot guy friend/brother combo thing you wish you had.
 
That character that didn't work for me at all was Ty. I just couldn't grasp him. I didn't really see him in my head. I never felt what he was feeling, like he wasn't real. It was like reading him through a veil, or something. He just fell flat.
 
He butt fumbled, if you will (SORRY JETS FANS)
 
And since I was pretty much shipping Henry and Jordan from page one, even though he wasn't even a love interest, no matter how hot and sweet and swoony Ty was, I was pretty much just like, "Go awaaaaaay, please, I have shipping to do." Ty and Jordan's relationship escalates pretty quickly, which I didn't have a problem with, but some people might, so, fair warning. Also, there's some language, if that bothers you.
 
Which I guess leads me to the few things that didn't work for me. A lot of the dialogue was pretty on the nose, and all in all just lacked a little bit of that magic that's impossible to define. I was very interested in the plot, the football, and Jordan's relationships (with the huge exception of her and Ty's), but some of the secondary characters lacked personality. I also didn't like how people assumed Jordan was stupid, because she was a jock, and worst of all, I didn't like the moments where Kinneally made her seem dumb on purpose. I mean, she wasn't stupid, clearly-- she was actually pretty intelligent, particularly in her journal-- but little moments were put in just to prove her scholastic ignorance. Like so:
 
JJ: She’s a good lay. What’s a four-letter word for a past Russian leader?
Jordan: How the hell should I know, man?
Me: Tsar! TSAR! It’s tsar, you fools. Effing dumb jocks.
 
 
Of course I'm being unreasonable, because not everyone has the same knowledge base as everyone else, and yes, this has NOTHING to do with the quality of the story. But I just want to say, not all jocks are dumb, and if Kenneally hadn't included those moments, the thought wouldn't have even crossed my mind.
 
And just to thoroughly pick some nits, I did not appreciate the fact that Marie and Carrie were the names chosen for Jordan's two female almost-friends, simply because putting them back to back on the page like that is like a tongue twister. Marie and Carrie? Marrie and Carie? Marie Curie? BRAIN HURTS. (Tangent: I once critiqued an MS where someone had a character named "Mel" and another named "Meg". I lasted ten pages until I was like, "I CANNOT. YOU HAVE DEFEATED MY EYES".)
 
In the end, this book was refreshing and super fun. I just adored Jordan's football team, her determination, and her adorable best friend. The ending of this book is so flipping cute I just about died. If you're a football fan, I highly recommend this one. And I'm pleased that there's a bunch of semi sequels, as I will surely be checking them out, despite my nits.
 
No, I have no idea what this is either, BUT I LIKE IT.


 

18 comments:

  1. I really liked this book. I completely agree with you when it comes to Tys character being a little flat. I was also shipping her and Sam from the beginning. I didn't have very many problems with this book, but now that you pointed a couple things out, they are starting to bother me as well (I can't unsee them). It was definitely a cute read that I just adored. I did read her second book in this sort of series and enjoyed it as well. I will definitely check out the rest of them. Great review and I love the gifs as usual.

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    1. Why thank you! Did you like the other books in the series? I'm thinking of checking them out when I have the time (which... judging by my TBR list might sadly be never)

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  2. Ah, darn. This looked so good, but now I'm almost positive I will hate it. The problem with guys and girls being friends: Everyone always makes them a couple in their minds. Readers are no different. So this thing with Henry, even though he wasn't a love interest, was inevitable, I supposed.

    I'm glad I read this review. I'm more of a fantasy/sci-fi reader anyway, so me liking this was a long shot. I need more than the cliché teen-romance-I-don't-know-what's-going-on to drive plot. Give me action any day! So, thank you. :)

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    1. SPOILER SPOILER Henry is totally a love interest. I'm just saying it wasn't *immediately apparent* that he was one.

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    2. Well... now I'm interested again, haha. So, as a person who LOVES spoilers, did your shipping work out or did she end up with Ty in the end?

      As a side-note, am I the only one who hates all the weird naming going on in YA? What ever happened to names like Claire or Sarah? Now all we get are names like Evangeline and Anastasia. Probably why I like Henry already over Ty, haha.

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    3. Pshh, I know better than to spoil the book on my own review! But I am SO WITH YOU on the names. Henry was actually his last name, his full name being Sam Henry, and Ty was short of Tyler. I don't think Ty or Tyler are too weird, but there are some strange names popping up in YA nowadays. Or even worse, strange SPELLINGS. I don't mind if that's your name in real life, but it always looks contrived to me when it's in a novel.

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    4. Darn. Guess I'll have to look it up on wiki or something, haha. Yeah, I love unique names in real life, but in books it always screams, "LOOK, MY CHARACTERS ARE COOL BECAUSE THEIR NAMES ARE COOL AND I AM COOL!" If an off-brand name is explained (like, maybe the character is an alien) then I'm great with it. It's when humans get the really fancy naming that bugs me, haha. And the spelling. Good God. I am SO with you there.

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  3. I read this one purely out of curiosity, and boy am I glad that I am a curious person. Catching Jordan was a brilliant read. I am a huge nerdy, tomboy so a female quarterback was irresistible. The characters are absolutely the prize of this book. Miranda Kenneally is a genius! Thank you for your awesome review~

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    1. Yay for nerdy tomboys! I too was sold by the female QB. Awesome and not done before.

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  4. So excited to read this one! I won a copy of Stealing Parker a while back but haven't read it yet because I want to read Catching Jordan first (even if they're more companion novels than a real series, I'm weird and just have to read books in order, haha).

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    1. Me too! I hate reading books out of order. Even when they're not straight up sequels, I can't do it.

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  5. I think that the football team made this book as well! They were fun and cute and the humor was refreshing and light as you said!

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    1. Looooved the football team. Best part of the whole book.

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  6. I have read so much about these books, I absolutely cannot wait to read them!! :)
    Thanks for your review

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  7. It looks like an interesting read. There aren't many sport type books and they can be hit or miss, but it does sound interesting. My undergrad uni there was a girl who pushed hard to be on the football team. The boys really liked her and pushed to get her on the team, but people were worried for her safety. She was allowed to join for a few home games and wowed the crowd.

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    1. See, that would be a GREAT YA novel! That girl sounds awesome.

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  8. I won a copy of this and a friend of mine recommended that I read it as well:) So excited to read it:D

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