Thursday, December 4, 2014
Review: Top Ten Clues You're Clueless by Liz Czukas
Review: Top Ten Clues You're Clueless by Liz Czukas
Release date: December 9th, 2014
Source: e-ARC via Edelweiss
Length: 304 pages
Rating: Funny, bantery, Breakfast Club-y fluff
Top Five Things That Are Ruining Chloe’s Day:
5) Working the 6:30 a.m. shift at GoodFoods Market
4) Crashing a cart into a customer’s car right in front of her snarky coworker Sammi
3) Trying to rock the “drowned rat” look after being caught in a snowstorm
2) Making zero progress with her crush, Tyson (see #3)
1) Being accused—along with her fellow teenage employees—of stealing upwards of $10,000
Chloe would rather be anywhere than locked in work jail (aka the break room) with five of her coworkers . . . even if one of them is Tyson. But if they can band together to clear their names, what looks like a total disaster might just make Chloe’s list of Top Ten Best Moments.
Whenever you super love a debut, there's always that teeeny pessimistic voice in the back of your head that wonders if maybe this was a fluke. Afer adoring Liz Czukas' Ask Again Later positively to pieces, I was scared that her follow-up, Top Ten Clues You're Clueless, wouldn't wow me as much. But after two Czukas books, I can now declare that she is the kind of writer I know I can rely on to instantly up my mood. Her books are consistently voicey and bright. They have wonderful humor and zany escapades. They're those awesome feel-good teen movies where everything goes so hilariously wrong--and then it all goes so hilariously right.
While TTCYC wasn't as cramazing a read as AAL for me, I still enjoyed it immensely. It has so many elements that I love, starting with a heroine with a hilarious and endearing nerd voice. Chloe is the new kid at school and is a painfully lonely. She's also a compulsive listmaker, always jotting down these hilarious lists about her life circumstances and observations. She really wants to make friends, but she's so spazztastically in her head that she can't figure out how to do it. On Christmas Eve, she goes to her job at Goodfoods Market. When a box full of money for charity goes missing, suspicion falls on Chloe and the five other teenagers who work in the shop--none of whom really like or know each other. They're confined to the break room to wait for the police to show up. They all swear they're innocent.
It's The Breakfast Club in a grocery store.
I am a SUCKER for friendship stories like this, and it's in the friendships that this book totally shines. (Also in Chloe--funny, adorable, bookish Chloe with her easy blushes, diabetes, and self-deprecating humor.) She also is a big reader...but she READS YA AS WELL AS CLASSICS! YOU GUYS. This is monumental. She actually referenced the Gallagher Girls series, and it was awesome. I can think of no other "bookish" heroines who make YA references beyond Harry Potter. Usually all they read is Bronte and Austen and Fitzgerald and zzzzzzz.
Chloe's got a crush on nice guy Tyson, who is African-American. There's Micah, home-schooled genius boy with a heart of gold who I just want to gather up in my arms and give a big old hug. There's Sammi, a girl with a serious attitude, cocky Gabe, and beautiful, private Middle Eastern Zaina. It's a pretty diverse bunch of kids, and I loved the way they played off each other. It's totally Breakfast Club, except they're also trying to solve a mystery, plus they're stuck in a grocery store for hours, plus it's Christmas Eve.
Watching these kids bond was SO MUCH FUN. Learning all the weird behind the scenes of the grocery store and working there and the oddball customers was a laugh a minute. Seriously, it made me want to run to Whole Foods and ask for a job (and maybe some chips or something) because it sounds like the people watching is tremendous. I mean, when they all go for an impromptu race around the empty aisles I laughed for about ten minutes.
While I REALLY loved all the characters, I wanted a bit more from a couple of them, mostly Tyson and Zaina. Gabe, Micah, Chloe, and Sammi, though, were totally popping off the page. There might have been one or two problematic things said during that one convo about what everyone at school thinks of Sammi (I wish one character had said, "So WHAT if they think she's gay?"). Then there's the ship, which was perfectly nice--because Tyson was perfectly nice--but I didn't ship it like burning the way I did in Ask Again Later, which was at serious OTP levels. (I actually think Chloe had more accidental chemistry with Gabe of all people). The focus of this book isn't on the kissing, but the friendships. It's one day, and it's all about the bonding and this new foundation of friendship after going through one tremendous day together. They're veterans of Goodfoods, yes, but they're survivors of the Great Christmas Eve Heist, too. And then they band together to SAVE THE DAY. My feeeels.
I also figured out the main mystery and a few of the side ones, but that didn't lessen my enjoyment one bit. The book is less about "Who took the cash?" and more about these different teenagers with vastly different world views and personalities bonding during one crazy night. It's about going "AW" and "SQUEE" and giggling and your insides turning to puppies and rainbows and Christmas hams and shopping car races and brand new friendships. This book is delightful.