Firsts ARC Review -- Buffy The Virginity Slayer


Firsts | Laurie Elizabeth Flynn
Release Date: January 5, 2015
Publisher: Griffin Teen (St.Martins)
Genre(s): Young Adult, Contemporary
Pages: 320
Edition: E-ARC
Source: Publisher
Rating:
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble



Seventeen-year-old Mercedes Ayres has an open-door policy when it comes to her bedroom, but only if the guy fulfills a specific criteria: he has to be a virgin. Mercedes lets the boys get their awkward, fumbling first times over with, and all she asks in return is that they give their girlfriends the perfect first time- the kind Mercedes never had herself.

Keeping what goes on in her bedroom a secret has been easy- so far. Her absentee mother isn’t home nearly enough to know about Mercedes’ extracurricular activities, and her uber-religious best friend, Angela, won’t even say the word “sex” until she gets married. But Mercedes doesn’t bank on Angela’s boyfriend finding out about her services and wanting a turn- or on Zach, who likes her for who she is instead of what she can do in bed.

When Mercedes’ perfect system falls apart, she has to find a way to salvage her reputation and figure out where her heart really belongs in the process. Funny, smart, and true-to-life, FIRSTS is a one-of-a-kind young adult novel about growing up.

I received a review copy courtesy of the author/publisher. This does not affect my opinion or views regarding the book whatsoever.

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REVIEW

There's A First Time For Everything
and this much scandalousness in YA is definitely one of them.
For me atleast. I think . . .  

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Whenever I hear the word " controversial  " surrounding a book, I squeal, I drool, I flail around like a fish out of water, I shake my fists in the air while screaming HURRAH because HELLO, controversy in YA is always deliciously exciting. Firsts jumped on my radar for this aspect alone, and when reviews finally started rolling in saying things such as, " I love how fierce Mercedes is, " or " This subject matter is way too much for it to be YA, " I knew that this title would either be one readers loved or hated, there would be no in between. Well, that's what I thought at first. After I finished the book, I had no clue what I wanted to rate it. It was a pretty good read, and I liked how the subject matter was used, but I did have a few issues with the overall story. So now here we are, me fighting against my mushy brain to coherently share my thoughts on this title, and you, witnessing another conflicting review from yours truly.

Here goes nothing


Sexual Prowess 
I'm no stranger to sexually active characters in YA, but Mercedes definitely raised the bar high for her grand entrance. From the first chapter alone, Laurie (the author) makes her mark, showing us she isn't afraid to push the envelop, or to do what's outside of the " norm " for YA. While some readers struggled to like Mercedes and her * cough * promiscuous ways, I found myself enjoying how she embodied sexiness, how she roared like a lioness, and was completely in control. For the first 10%, she was strong, very sure of herself, but then a light switched off, and her strong personality turned into something completely different, something I had a hard time connecting to. 

While I don't relate to Mercedes, in the beginning I definitely connected with her character. I really loved reading from her perspective, from the eyes of someone who has the " idgaf " attitude down to the T, but even though this is what made her likable for me, her being so shut off emotionally is what turned me off a bit, causing the " character to reader " string to unravel between us.

Great Wall Of China
Watching Mercedes go from a girl who not only owned her situation, but had full control over it, spiral out of control was as interesting as it was frustrating. She was so shut off, dealing with issues stemming from her awful parents, (her mother was the worst) and in result, she relied on sex to uplift herself and to keep those deep rooted issues at bay. It's actually quite funny because her having enough sexual partners to count on both hands didn't bother me at all, but her pushing away Zach, (the male interest) definitely did. It was as if she had this huge wall built up, so strong it could withstand any natural disaster, and that completely drove me nuts. Zach was good for her, (a little too good in my opinion) and I just wanted to shake her shoulders and scream, " get your shit together Cedes, he likes you! " But of course sister girl wasn't hearing me. I loved Zach's character because he was so understanding and caring, especially during the mist of a situation no young guy, (or probably any guy for that matter) wants to be apart of. He had her back from beginning to end, I just wish it didn't take a last minute development of character for her to realize that.

Wrap It Up * Pun May Be Intended *
I know you're secretly whispering, " but it doesn't even sound like she liked the book " but honestly, I really did. The descriptive writing had such a nice flow, and I loved how Mercedes's voice stood out, commanding you to take in her words, her thoughts. The characters were carefully placed, each of them playing an important role within the story, and even though the absurdity of some situations were far fetched and caused the plot to go haywire a bit for me, the story had it's strengths which allowed me to come out with a decent reading experience.

My advice for anyone who is curious about reading Firsts, is to not let the subject matter turn you off or chase you away. One of things I appreciate about this novel, about Laurie really, was how she wrote about the reality of many teens in this generation. I loved how sex positive the story was, and how realistic it handled the topic of sex. (Well some scenes atleast) As readers we're always screaming for something different, something that will stand out from the mediocre or receptiveness we've been experiencing, and well, Firsts delivered that. Mission accomplished people.

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