Saturday, May 19, 2012
Pink by Lili Wilkinson
Pink by Lili Wilkinson
My rating: 2 of 5 stars
Well, it was bound to happen sooner or later: an Aussie YA novel I didn’t enjoy at all! In fact, if not for my two wonderful readalong partners who made the experience not only bearable, but extremely fun, I would have given up after a hundred pages or so.
Ava’s parents are supposedly very liberal, and her girlfriend Chloe has an owerpowering personality. Together they’re pushing Ava into an alternative lifestyle she secretly hates. Oddly enough, all Ava wants is to wear pink and sing in a musical. She decides to move to a new school, where she plans to find a way of joining the in crowd, or Pastels, as she calls them. However, that doesn’t turn out so well for Ava. Instead of getting the role she wanted in the school musical, she ends up working with the stage crew, a group of misfits led by a boy named Sam. She ends up balancing three different lives and three different personalities, none of which are compatible with the others.
Characterization is where Wilkinson failed spectacularly. Having read A Pocketful of Eyes first, I knew that she was more than capable of creating more interesting and complex characters, which is why I have to conclude that she did this on purpose. But why? Every character in Pink is a walking stereotype: we have Ava’s intellectually snobbish girlfriend Chloe, playing the role of a lesbian feminist; Ava’s parents, so obsessed with being tolerant that they end up not tolerating anything mainstream; Alexis, the shallow blonde, perfect in everything she does; a gay friend, a secretly gay friend, a friend embarrassed by his rich parents, and in the end, Ava herself, completely devoid of personality.
Ava is one of the most self-centered, infuriating characters I’ve ever stumbled upon. The series of disastrous decisions she made in such a short period of time nearly drove me insane. Stories about personal growth by definition introduce a character that makes poor choices at the beginning, but finds a way to redeem himself/herself by the end. After one particularly bad decision, I’m afraid Ava reached the point of no redemption in my eyes.
Unfortunately, I doubt that I’ll be reading any more of Wilkinson’s novels. After reading two of them, I can honestly say that she’s not an author whose work I enjoy.