Monday 9 March 2015

Book Review - Love Bomb

Love Bomb
Author: Jenny McLachlan
Series: Ladybirds #2
Genres: Contemporary | Childrens, Young Adult
Release Date: 12th March 2015
Publishers: Bloomsbury Childrens
No. Pages: 304
Source: Review Copy - Bloomsbury Childrens
Betty Plum has never been in love. She's never even kissed a boy. But when H.O.T Toby starts school it's like Betty has been hit with a thousand of Cupid's arrows. It's like a bomb has exploded – a love bomb!

More than ever Betty wishes her mum hadn't died when Betty was a baby. She really needs her mum here to ask her advice. And that's when she finds hidden letters for just these moments. Letters about what your first kiss should feel like and what real love is all about..

Is Betty ready to fall in love? Will she finally have her first kiss?

The following review may contain spoilers concerning earlier books written by the same author.
If you have not read these previous works, please proceed with caution.

With most reviews, there's a defined overruling emotion that I have throughout, and an overall feelings towards the book in question, but on this occasion, with Love Bomb, I don't have that joy, in fact, this review may just turn heads, and I've done that a few times already in the past. To put it in plain and simple terms, Love Bomb could have and would have been, in my eyes, a perfect book, a book with the right amount of humour and snark, with beautiful friendships and relationships between friends and family and a real sense of growing up and coming to terms with loss, damn, it might even have become the first favourite read of 2015, but alas, I was stopped in my tracks by one page, and that brought this book, and myself, back down to earth. It affected me on a whole other level.

Before we get to that unfortunate event, I'd like to talk about how this book is really, otherwise, the perfect teenage read exploring love, friendships and what it means to lose someone you love and McLachlan explored these features perfectly. Betty was a wonderful character, we'd already met her and got to explore her character a little in Flirty Dancing, but to see how her home life was, with a single parent, her father no less, was a lovely change, and the inclusion of little letters for each Birthday left to her from her mother was really quite wonderful too. The relationship that was between Betty and her mother, even through the letters, was utterly beautiful, you could honestly feel the love that her mother felt for her just leap off the page and how painful it was for her to leave Betty. I admit, I cried a good few times, it's definitely not just your easy, laid back type of childrens romance. Even Betty's relationship with her father and how they developed to include Rue, how they developed together, each accepting change and difference, but learning and slowly becoming comfortable with the changes in their lives, it was explored well, honestly and emotionally, and I related to it a lot.

Even Betty's fellow characters and friendships were just as wonderful to read about. Betty and Kat's friendship was really one of a kind, it was really honest and down to earth, really sweet and really reminded me of my own high school friendships, and the inclusion of Bea and Ollie from Flirty Dancing was also really pretty darn lovely, but nothing beats the sweet and adorable friendship to more relationship between Bill and Betty - they were ust the most adorable friendship in this novel, a really honest and sweet one, listening to each other, appreciating each other, seeing the beauty within someone on the inside and feeling safe and at home with someone, and just what they'd do for one another, it was just so beautiful and beyond cute, I don't have enough words. It's fair to that I was never a fan of Toby, he was constantly a jerk in my eyes, but one characters development I did like was Pearl's, compliments of Betty, watching their broken friendships start to mend, seeing how Betty's decisions and actions affected Pearl and her choices was wonderful to see, and I really cannot wait to see where McLachlan takes Pearls, and Kat's stories in the future novels in the series.

For those wondering exactly what brought this book down a whole star, highlight the following, but be warned, spoilers.

I instantly took a disliking to Toby, as you know, from the minute he came on the scene, but it's so much worse than that. When Betty goes to a party at Toby's, expecting her first kiss, he gives her a tour of the house and eventually, they end up in his bedroom. Betty is CLEARLY uncomfortable and he either a) doesn't notice or b) doesn't care. He then 'playfully pushes' Betty back onto the bed, gets on top of her and starts kissing her, while Betty is MORE THAN CLEARLY distressed by the whole scenario. When she pushes him away and tells him no, he shuffles his hair and talks about how Betty is 'so weird', laughs and then walks away.


What Toby did was wrong, it's the basis of rape from where I'm concerned. Betty never invited him to kiss her, neither did she look comfortable or as though she wanted to be there, yet he continued to make her feel uncomfortable, use her and then address her as though the whole scene was her fault, making her feel to blame, belittled and not important. This is how rape victims feel, they feel to blame, feel as though they did something wrong, as though what they did or didn't do is the fault, that they're wrong somehow. I don't care that the actual scene was more about kissing than sex, that's not what matters, what matters is the message it's sending to young girls.

Later, through one of her mother's letters, Betty does get given the 'you're better than boys who break your heart, you're beautiful and people love you for you' talk, but that doesn't render what happened not important. Betty was used, a victim, and suffered from a terrible ordeal, she hide herself away from her friends and family, felt as though as wasn't good enough and felt used. The actual depth of this issue was not explored enough, there wasn't any punishment for Toby after what he'd done, Betty didn't talk to anyone properly about the situation and eventually, it was shrugged off as an 'experience of teenage years', but I couldn't help but feel as though this is what gives young girls the wrong impression, that they are to blame and that it's them that has done wrong, that they shouldn't speak to someone about these things. This one scene ruined what was a perfect book for me otherwise, and I admit, I may have personally reacted differently than other people would, but it really bugged me on a personal level, and affected the entire read..

This book was a really lovely, adorable and cute novel, and the relationships throughout the novel made this as beautiful as it was. The inclusion of the letters from Betty's mother and the little life lessons, from accepting girlfriends to your father, to having your heart broken, to finding what love is like, and how it fills you up and feels like home, even how you can be your own person, it really was a really enjoyable read, despite my issues with it. It's not just for the younger generation, the writing is simple and highly enjoyable, and the humour and snark involved is enough to make anyone at least smile - I love reading more laid back and innocent novels, and this is exactly one of them. McLachlan, you've got yourself one dedicated fan.


  1. Great review. The curious person in me had to highlight and see what made you pause... SPOILERS BE DAMNED! I have to agree with you though, reading that myself would really annoy me. I think that should either have been properly addressed or at least pointed out how not right that was. Definitely agree it sends the wrong message and completely see why that would ruin the book for you a little bit.

    1. SPOILERS BE DAMNED INDEED, but you can see my point which I'm thankful for, I was convinced this was just all me and I was imagining it, but no, it was there. Otherwise though, it was wonderful!<3

  2. I got this one as a surprise in the mail yesterday so I'm very curious about how I'll take it. I haven't read Flirty Dancing yet (but I think I don't have to, right?) I do love a bit of humour and snark and I'm glad this book has plenty, but I'm quite concerned about this off putting page. For once in my life, I didn't highlight the spoilers (I'm very tempted to!) But I'm bookmarking this and definitely coming back once I've read it. Fantastic review, Amanda! x

    1. You don't have to read the first book no, they're separate stories with cameo's of characters in, but each is it's own little story, it should be fine Jess! Good luck though lovely x


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