This review is spoiler-free.
“Leah.’ Mom shakes her head. ‘You’ve got to stop doing this.’
‘Burning everything to the ground whenever something goes wrong.”
Published: 2018, by Penguin.
Format: eBook/ARC from Netgalley
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, LGBT, Romance
Contains: Strong Language, Alcohol, Anger, Body Image, Crude Humour
I received a copy of this book from Penguin through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
‘Leah on the Offbeat’ is the sequel to bestseller Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda, following Simon’s best friend, Leah Burke, as she discovers her own sexuality whilst trying to survive high school.
I’m honestly torn on how to review this novel, as much as I was when reviewing the previous instalment of the Creekwood series. However, with this one, I felt as if I’d have more of a chance, Leah being a character I resonated with in Simon vs. However, I kind of felt a little disappointed.
Albertalli’s strongest points is her ability to create wonderful, fun-loving characters that you can’t help but love. However, in this instalment, I felt as if something had changed, their characters becoming dramatic plot devices to create any kind of negative scenario possible. Leah’s character makes multiple bad decisions throughout the book, making her the seemingly antagonist of her own novel, whilst Nick’s character became an accomplice. Abby, Simon and Bram managed to save some kind of adorable fluffiness to the tale, the evolution of the couple was adorable to read, yet I found myself wanting to read more of them rather than Leah; I couldn’t route for her at all. This meant the plot line suffered, in that there was hardly much there to use. In Simon vs, Simon is blackmailed in order to keep his sexuality a secret; In ‘Leah on the Offbeat’… there was nothing, nothing except the character’s journey towards graduation, and she happens to suddenly fall in love along the way. For a book with an easy to read writing style, it took me over a week to read; I had no interest in it.
I feel as if the writing style also didn’t assist this, Leah’s outspoken tone was reflected in the writing too much, making it incredibly irritating to read. Although, this was replicated in Simon vs. it was something that prevented me from enjoying it back then and continues now. The constant need to remain ‘relatable’ to the audience was clear in the narrative, referencing countless modern media and using slang terminology to show the age of the protagonist felt unnecessary at times and something more suitable for film rather than literature. I can understand the need to remain relatable to the audience, yet it became annoying and hindered my enjoyment deeply.
Overall, as much as I love the characters of Creekwood, it wasn’t enough to keep me entertained, which is a shame considering the diversity and light-hearted romance the story provides.