Review: Nina Is Not Ok by Shappi Khorsandi

Challenge criteria: A book written by a comedian.

(Disclaimer: I was sent this book by Netgalley and the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This has in no way affected my opinion of the book, nor the outcome of the review.)

Blurb:

Nina does not have a drinking problem. She likes a drink, sure. But what 17-year-old doesn’t?

Nina’s mum isn’t so sure. But she’s busy with her new husband and five year old Katie. And Nina’s almost an adult after all.

And if Nina sometimes wakes up with little memory of what happened the night before , then her friends are all too happy to fill in the blanks. Nina’s drunken exploits are the stuff of college legend.

But then one dark Sunday morning, even her friends can’t help piece together Saturday night. All Nina feels is a deep sense of shame, that something very bad has happened to her…

Image via Penguin

What I liked:

Any fan of Louise O Neill will like this. Though given the subject matter, I’m not sure like is the appropriate word.

Nina is instantly not a very likeable character, but that only adds to this book. You’re gripped almost instantly to try and make as much sense of her actions as she makes.

It also shows just how much value teens weigh on the opinions of their friends.  Nina refrains from telling her friends they’ve upset her, and it brings you screaming back to when you kept quiet just to keep on your friends’ good side.

As well as that, Zoe and Alex’s relationship shows perfectly the behaviour of teens in relationships, especially how when allegations come out, the hurt partner can be quick to stand by their beloved rather than admit they might not be perfect. Nina’s friend Beth, who stands by Nina through the ordeal, is one of the very few wholly likeable characters in this book.

This will hopefully open the discussion again to slut shaming, and victim blaming, things we desperately need to leave behind.

What I didn’t like:
This book is full of quite unsettling moments. Between Nina’s behaviour at her 18th, to her tirades in the local with Dave, it’s quite hard to sympathise with her. You don’t like Nina, and at times you just can’t like her. You know how horrible she is to her family, to her friends, even to herself.

I felt Nina’s sexuality could have been handled a little easier. While knowing she was young and hormone driven, it was also a tough read to hear some of her thoughts about her teacher, her friend’s parents.

Also, there were a couple of grammar errors, spelling mistakes and word omissions that I felt interrupted the flow if how I’d read the book, as I’d had to stop to piece together what was actually being said before I could move on again.

Out of five:

Four. It’s a high four too, as this book is gripping and a great read, but very very unsettling. A horrifying mirror image of what society is like nowadays, this is one book that you definitely need to read.

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