Gin Price,
On Edge
(Poisoned Pencil, 2015)

Gin Price's On Edge is very much a young-adult book, and it will likely appeal to its target audience more than it did to me.

I did find the glimpses of the graffiti and parkour enthusiasts interesting ... although the book is oblivious to the effect these activities have on the community at large, focusing only on the rivalry between them.

I also liked that the groupings described are not strictly racially based.

Still -- even though the protagonist is a girl -- the "crews" are almost entirely male; she is the only girl in the parkour group, and there are apparently no girls in the graffiti group. There also is NO mention, except for glancing references to the gymnastics group, to anything girls do together. And, naturally, our protagonist is both better than and rejected by the gymnastics group; a typical "exceptional female" story, where "you're not like all the other girls" is high praise indeed.

The romance was also really problematic. Haze/Bren (almost everyone has an array of names) supposedly adores her, but goes into a jealous fury whenever he sees her interacting with another male. And, worse, she finds this adorable. Since such unreasonable jealousy and attempts to restrict her from interacting with other males is a serious warning sign of future abuse, I did not find it cute at all.

Also, in the tradition of the very worst romances, her lust for this guy overwhelms all the danger signs he's displaying. Since the kisses are fabulous, he is OBVIOUSLY a Good Guy.

It would have been a better book if it had taken this stuff seriously, rather than just glossing over the issues and offering a "solution" that made very little sense in the end.

In short: it is edgy in many ways, but it is also seriously retrogressive (and borderline misogynist). I could have forgiven some of this if the plotting had been tighter and led to a more coherent resolution.

book review by
Amanda Fisher

2 July 2016

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