Wednesday, 8 May 2013

The Fine Art of Truth or Dare by Melissa Jensen

About the book
The Fine Art of Truth or Dare is a young adult book by Melissa Jensen. It was published by Speak on 16th February 2012 and the book is 380 pages long.

Plot Synopsis
At the elite Willing School, Ella is pretty much invisible but she doesn’t mind at all. Best friends Frankie and Sadie keep her more than occupied and she wouldn’t want to be friends with anyone else. She also has a love of art and the unappreciated 19th-century painter Edward Willing. Still though, Ella wants what most other girls at school do – Alex Bainbridge. While her friends think he is shallow and self-centred, Ella believes there is more to him than that.

Ella’s ability to nearly fail at French sees Alex become her tutor, something which she cannot believe is happening. During their sessions, Alex proves that he isn’t who everyone thinks he is. Ella has a shot at getting what she always wanted but is she ready to pay the price?

What I thought
The Fine Art of Truth or Dare is a book I have had on my wishlist for quite some time now (along with god knows how many others) and I recently had a time of purchasing at random.

Melissa Jensen tells the story of Ella, a teenager who is an outcast at school. She only has two friends, has a strange obsession with a dead painter and has large scarring on her body due to an accident as a child. I absolutely loved Ella’s friendships with Frankie and Sadie and how close the three of them were. The title of the book comes from the three of them playing Truth or Dare every time they go out to eat together, which is quite often. The game was a fun way of getting to know each of the characters more, especially as truth was used more than dare.

Ella as a character on her own was also great. She’s very quirky, has a large Italian family and her love for art is quite obvious. The whole thing with the dead Edward Willing was a little too strange for me for the most part of the book though. However, I do think that this was an inventive way for Ella to express herself. She talks to the dead painter out loud and has whole imaginary conversations with him. This allows Ella to work through her feelings and her experiences though and in a way I have never seen before. Ella has quite a lot going on in this book due to her family, friends, project on Edward Willing and her new tutoring sessions with a guy she is crushing on. Sometimes though, there was a little too much going on.

As Ella has liked Alex for quite some time, she is both terrified and happy at the prospect of him tutoring her. She doesn’t want people to know though because she’s afraid of what they might say about her. Ella’s scarring has a lot to do with her confidence levels and also how the other girls at school see and treat her. She doesn’t think she’s good enough to be spending time with Alex, even in a tutoring environment. The build-up between Ella and Alex was cute enough and it was nice to see the whole book not completely be about the romance. The more time they spend together, each character begins to see the other for who they really are, rather than who they thought they were. This book has a great moral lesson of not judging a book by its cover which was a nice addition to the rest of the plot.

While I did find this book a little strange in parts, I did like it. It isn’t my favourite contemporary read but it is cute and different.

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