Author: Glen Sobey
Genre: Contemporary // YA
Goodreads rating: 3.35
My rating: ⭐
Crystal Rose, a 17-year-old high school junior, and her younger brother were abandoned by their drug-addicted mother fifteen years ago in an Alaskan Native village, an event which Crystal resented for years. However, when she learns that her mother was raped in high school, Crystal declares war against a society which reduces girls to their looks, forcing them to feel worthless without the approval of guys.
While living in a small Alaskan town, she starts The War Blog website, along with her best friend and crush Kato—a brilliant Native boy—attacking everything promoting female objectification and offering ways to fight back, all supplemented by her original songs. Crystal rises from nothing in the wilds of Alaska to become a champion for change, risking her life against men who would force her to keep silent. She faces her parents’ abusive past and fights for a better world.
Disclaimer: I was given an ARC of this book by Netgalley and the publisher (thank you!) in return for an honest review
Well this was a big yikes
When requesting The War Blog I didn’t know this was written by a man, I kinda assumed it was a woman when I started, but when I found out it was written by a man I had a lightbulb moment because um yeah that explains a lot. Not saying that a man can’t write a good feminist book! They can! But this guy can’t!
I have a lot of thoughts and my mind is all over the place, so let’s turn this into a list review.
💛 First of all, the writing was really bad. I wasn’t surprised to find out the author had never written a book before, because that was pretty obvious. The War Blog needs an incredible amount of editing, especially when it comes to the pacing, which honestly gave me whiplash. Everything was happening all at once and so very fast it was hard to keep track. Conversation topics changed within seconds and were brought up unnaturally, characters showed up out of nowhere… Actually, pretty much everything came out of nowhere. It’s not funny how many notes my ARC has saying ‘??? WHERE DID THIS COME FROM’ There are no natural transitions anywhere. I often also found myself quite lost and wondering if I had missed something. The fact that there are so many characters also didn’t help. I could barely keep up with who was who, and I read most of this in a day.
💛 The dialogue was so cringeworthy and unnatural. For example:
”You are staying tonight?”
”Yeah. My usual spot in the guest bedroom, where I’ve slept more than half my life.”
??? Crystal knows that?? She was there?? It’s her house?? This is all just for the benefit of the reader but it felt so forced. Who talks like that? Why would you mention that? I wrote like this when I was nine y’all
💛 Events were also just summed up a lot? Making the writing very dry (which it already was to be honest) and there was no emotion in the writing at all. I honestly didn’t care what happened.
💛 Crystal’s grandmother hugs Kato and that’s the exact moment Crystal decides to describe her grandmother’s past beauty?? Like what??
💛 This!! Is!! Not!! A!! Feminist!! Book!! Crystal slutshames and bodyshames and there’s emphasis on girls’ and women’s bodies, especially their breasts which felt very odd to me (there’s a scene where a girl puts two erases in her shirt on her nipples?? And it’s supposed to be funny??) until I found out it was written by a man
💛 When Crystal’s grandmother tells her Crystal’s mom had many boyfriends, the first thing Crystal says is ‘So Mom was a slut?’ like jfc
💛 There’s also this wonderful quote: ”Maybe she fought her childhood trauma by acting the tough girl. So why did she choose pink underwear to flaunt?’‘ (earlier she bent down which revealed her thong) Like are you kidding me? She also shamed another girl for wearing tight leggings and her little sister for wearing a tank top. Crystal doesn’t support other girls at all, unless they fit a certain image.
💛 Crystal’s grandmother also says that ‘there’s no getting through this’ about sexual assault and rape, and this is never addressed. Personally I really don’t find this a good message to send to young girls. I get where she’s coming from and why she says this, but at no point is this message debunked and is it shown that you can get through an awful, traumatic event like sexual assault and/or rape, that you can get better.
💛 Crystal tells Kato that her fighting back against rape culture is ‘different than advocating for Natives. This will be an attack on what most people consider normal’ – um, I’m pretty sure racists think the way they treat Natives is normal? It just really rubbed me the wrong way, as if Crystal’s fight is harder than Kato’s.
💛 A lot of the women in this novel are in abusive relationships, which Crystal doesn’t understand. I quote: ”I could never understand why battered women stayed with their abusers. Maybe Angie had no sense of worth apart from her man. I felt very sorry for her.” Like fuck off? I can’t even express the anger I felt when reading this.
💛 Crystal also kept on outing her best friend which she’s never called out for
💛 Crystal’s brother tells her she could never be a cheerleader because she’s too skinny and NO ONE calls him out for that?
💛 It was also very uncomfortable to read how Crystal, a white girl, decided to criticise sexism in Native culture and I just don’t think it was called out enough? To me it reeked of White Saviour Syndrome. I can’t speak for Natives of course, but I did want to mention it in my review.
Some actually feminist books that The War Blog wishes it was and to read instead:
💛 My Whole Truth by Mischa Trace – Powerful, gripping, heartbreaking. Seelie Stanton is arrested for murdering the boy who attacked and raped her, showing how messed up our world is as she gets bullied, shamed and attacked for saving herself. Read my review here
💛 Sadie by Courtney Summers – Sadie follows the titular character as she goes after the man responsible for her sister’s death, and West McCray, who’s trying to figure out what happened to Sadie. Sadie is not a happy story, but it’s an important one. It’s not just the story of Sadie and Mattie; it’s the story of all the girls in the world who end up dead or missing simply because they’re girls. Read my review here
💛 Moxie by Jennifer Mathieu – The War Blog‘s blurb actually reminded me a bit of Moxie, but boy does it wishes it was like Moxie. Vivian also decides to fight back, but it’s actually done well because you know,, Vivian doesn’t look down on and shames other girls. I loved seeing Vivian start a revolution at her school and no longer taking shit
💛 Saints and Misfits by S.K. Ali – Saints and Misfit has a perfect balance between heavy and light moments. Despite dealing with attempted sexual assault and fighting back, it was still overall a fun and light read.
💛 The Nowhere Girls by Amy Reed – I didn’t really connect with this one as the writing style wasn’t my cup of tea, making it hard to connect with the characters, but that doesn’t take away from the fact that it’s a powerful story about rape culture. Despite what to me felt as a passive writing style, I still got chills while reading this one
What is your favourite feminist book? Let me know in the comments!