Book Review of Uses for Boys by Erica Lorraine Scheidt

Posted December 24, 2012 by Kara in Uncategorized / 18 Comments

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Release Date: January 15th, 2013
Pages: 240
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
Source: NetGalley

Summary from Goodreads: Anna remembers a time before boys, when she was little and everything made sense. When she and her mom were a family, just the two of them against the world. But now her mom is gone most of the time, chasing the next marriage, bringing home the next stepfather. Anna is left on her own—until she discovers that she can make boys her family. From Desmond to Joey, Todd to Sam, Anna learns that if you give boys what they want, you can get what you need. But the price is high—the other kids make fun of her; the girls call her a slut. Anna’s new friend, Toy, seems to have found a way around the loneliness, but Toy has her own secrets that even Anna can’t know.

Then comes Sam. When Anna actually meets a boy who is more than just useful, whose family eats dinner together, laughs, and tells stories, the truth about love becomes clear. And she finally learns how it feels to have something to lose—and something to offer. Real, shocking, uplifting, and stunningly lyrical, Uses for Boys is a story of breaking down and growing up.


Review:  There is no easy way for me to say this that is going to make what I have to say come off any nicer, so let me just lay it out there. For me, this book was just terrible. I say ‘ for me’ because I already know that some readers connected with this book. I didn’t. I thought it was pretty much useless and failed at every point it tried to make. I do appreciate what the author tried to do here, but her approach was a complete fail. I am going to try to articulate my problems, but it’s difficult, because if you do not think the way I do, this review is going to not make a whole lot of sense to you. But whatever.

Poor, Anna. Her life sucks because her and her mom used to be really close, but now her mom is gone most of the time, more concerned with hooking a new husband than spending time with her daughter. To pass the time and because Anna needs attention, she has sex with boys. Lots of boys. And there is a lot of REALLY graphic and uncomfortable sex. But before I get to that, I want to discuss Anna’s character.

I can understand why a girl who is being neglected at home would turn to affection from boys because this is the only place she can get it. It’s just that her character failed to connect with me. I didn’t like Anna. I didn’t even really sympathize with her situation, and I felt bad about that because this girl has a whole set of issues that I should have cared about, but man. To me she was really unlikable, weird, and not relatable. At all.

And then there was the whole thing with her friend Toy. I just didn’t understand the point. I can’t talk much about this at all without revealing spoilers, but I would just like to ask those that read this book and liked it, what was the point of the whole Toy storyline? Why was it there? I feel like I am missing some connection I was supposed to see. I know what the reader was supposed to think, but then there was the end, and because of the way it ended, I was just left feeling confused. But for me, this was just another point that failed to connect with me.

At first I liked the writing style. But then, when I realized it just felt like a jumbled up mass of a character’s thoughts (and a character I didn’t even like), I checked out. At that point I just wanted it to be over. I think the author has a unique way of writing and I liked her flow of words, but I don’t feel it worked properly for this book, nor did it convey the messages in her writing in a meaningful way. First person present tense is a hard POV to write in, and unless you are a fantastic writer, it usually turns out poorly. That was the case here. This book just did not work for me at all.

Now we come to the part I hate talking about. The sex. I know some readers will disagree with me, and that’s totally okay. I am not offended if you think I am wrong on this point because I know it is a matter of personal taste. So feel free to sound off in the comments. Just don’t be disrespectful about it. That’s all I ask. Okay, moving on. The sex was WAY TOO graphic in my opinion. There was too much of it as well, and I didn’t feel the writing needed to be as detailed as it was. It was vulgar and felt like teenage porn. I am not against sex in YA books, I just think there is a limit to how far it should go. This was blunt, distasteful, and I don’t think I would be comfortable with a young teen reading this. Maybe a mature teen, but even that is iffy. To understand how far the book went, you would have to read it, and if you did, I would like to hear your thoughts. It made me very uncomfortable, and I guess that was the point of the narrative, but what can I say? I didn’t like it. I don’t have a quote for you, and perhaps I should have grabbed one, but I have already deleted this off my Kindle and moved on. But I really feel this should not be classified as a YA novel.

Before I go, I just want to say that my review here is my opinion. And it is only one opinion. I know that this book has connected with some readers, but overall, I think it is failing to connect with its audience. The early ratings and reviews on Goodreads, for the most part, reflect that. Not everyone is going to like everything they read, and I certainly didn’t like this. Unfortunately, I can’t recommend it. It wouldn’t be honest of me to do so. But if you usually disagree with my reviews, then you should try it for yourself.

Also, what is WITH the cover? It makes you think this will be a fun book. It’s not. NOT at all. I don’t think the cover matches the narrative in any way, shape or form. I love the cover, but not for this book.

1/5 Dragons

18 responses to “Book Review of Uses for Boys by Erica Lorraine Scheidt

  1. Amy

    Sorry that you didn’t like this one. I have it to read and I am hoping I like it more. Fortunately I had seen a few reviews so I already know it’s not a cute fluffy read. Sex in books doesn’t bother me, but if it’s marketed to YA then it should stay within what is okay for that age. Thanks for the honest review Kara. I hope that I enjoy it more than you did. Happy Holidays!! 🙂

  2. Thanks for the honest review Kara. But this book reminds me of new girl by paige harbinson. That book was not for everyone. i’m so exited for this one . eeep . it even on pre order. sorry to hear you did n’t like it

  3. Thanks for the review-I completely understand all the points you are making. I have a review copy of this to read soon and suspect I may have similar thoughts to you.

  4. I know you don’t hand out single dragons to books too often Kara, so for sure I’ll stay away from this book. Excessively graphic sex to the point of exploitation doesn’t appeal to me at all, nor does the poor quality writing and characterization as well. Sorry you had to slog through this mess, Kara, but excellent review as always. 🙂

    • Yeah, that was the issue. It wasn’t the sex itself, it was the descriptions and tone of the writing I didn’t care for. I just feel it went too far and that the author did it for the shock value. Not my thing at all.

      Thanks, Leanna.

  5. Well, I have not heard many things about this. Though, I absolutely adore the cute cover. And I think there is a LOT of potential in this novel to express many different teenage problems and find solutions that make sense for them.
    I am disappointed that you did not like this, but I will definitely try it sometime.
    An honest, thoughtful review, Kara!
    Your constant reader,
    Soma
    http://insomnia-of-books.blogspot.com/

    • I hope you have better luck with it than I did, Soma. I think you are right on with the potential this one had. For me though, it failed and the points it was trying to make.

  6. I got declined on Netgally and was bummed but now I’m wondering if maybe it was a good thing! I do still want to read this, I want to know what I think of the scenes you describe as being too graphic and see if I agree with you! And, you’re right about the cover – I hadn’t noticed until you mentioned that it looks fun, but why are they draped in fairy/Christmas lights? Odd!

    Great, honest review, Kara!

  7. Oddly enough, even though I really trust you and April, I really want to try this book. I am so curious to see what those sex scenes are like and if they are as creepy and uncomfortable as you say. Also, it might help me decide how I feel about the whole sex in YA issue, because currently I don’t know where I stand. I’ll probably get it from the library at some point and DNF once I’ve gotten the idea.

    • I don’t blame you for wanting to try it. I’m actually really glad you are. I’m dying to know what you think. For me, I think sex in YA is completely necessary if it fits the storyline. It definitely fit the storyline in this book. But I didn’t feel it needed to be as graphic as it was. That added nothing, in my opinion. If anything, I feel it took away from the emotions I was supposed to be feeling. Meh.

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