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Title: Bad Habits
Author: Flynn Meaney
Published: 11th of February 2021 – Penguin
Format: Digital (NetGalley) – 320 pages
“But, just because one group of people may be louder than another, it doesn’t mean their voices are more important.” – Bad Habits
Hello Hello! How are you?
I’m so excited to be posting my review of Bad Habits by Flynn Meaney today and kicking off the first day of the #UltimateBlogTour organised by Dave from @The_WriteReads. I don’t read that many YA contemporary books because I usually don’t get on with them, but as soon as I read the blurb, I knew I needed to try it, and I’m so glad I did! Keep on reading for my thoughts!
As always, thank you so much to Dave for letting me be on this tour, and thank you to the publisher for providing me with a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.
Hilarious, bold, sparky and surprising, this is the funniest feminist book you’ll read all year.
Alex is a rebel from the tip of her purple fauxhawk to the toes of her biker boots. She’s tried everything she can think of to get expelled from her strict Catholic boarding school. Nothing has worked so far – but now, Alex has a new plan.
Tired of the sexism she sees in every corner of St Mary’s, Alex decides to stage the school’s first ever production of The Vagina Monologues. Which is going to be a challenge, as no one else at St Mary’s can even bear to say the word ‘vagina’ out loud…
Bad Habits by Flynn Meaney is a hilarious and fun YA contemporary novel about Alex Heck, a young, feisty feminist who is at St Mary’s boarding school and trying to change everything about the place and the people. As soon as I read the blurb, I knew I was going to like it, but I didn’t expect to laugh as much as I did, so kudos to the author for that as I usually never laugh out loud while reading!
This book is set at a private Catholic school in Minnesota and it was a really great setting in my opinion as I suppose it might be one of the most conservative places you can find. I am not a religious person at all so to see how Alex kept flipping off the patriarchy, the school, the nuns and the priest made me cackle.
This is the second time I’ve read a book set in a Catholic school and I have to say that I much preferred this one as it felt a bit more genuine to me. it was really fun to follow Alex, Mary Kate and the other students as they went about their daily lives on campus and as Alex tried to break the whole institution down, one F-Bomb and “vagina” at a time.
Alex: Alex is the main character from this book and the only POV we get, and along the way, we learn a lot about her and the people around her, as she stumbles over obstacles, thinks about why she is trying to set up The Vagina Monologues, and experiences various relationships while getting into a lot of trouble. I loved Alex from the first line. Teenage me was quite like her, minus the purple lady-fauxhawk so I really identified with her, only she was a lot funnier than I was (and still am, aha!). I found Alex to be sassy, determined, strong-willed, with a strong sense of right and the need to understand sexuality, gender, identity and not be ashamed about these things. I love her and I loved to see her grow.
Mary Kate: Mary Kate is Alex’s best friend and roommate and she is the complete opposite of Alex. She is shy, an A-grade student, she follows the rules rigidly, is so embarrassed to say “vagina” even though Alex repeatedly reminds her that it is the anatomical term and she evens buys a massive bag of crisps to hide tampons in the shop. She was sweet and intelligent, but the fact that she was so naïve about a lot of things really saddened me because I know that so many of us are at this age. I remember that my sex-ed classes were a joke and other than teach us to put condoms on bananas and learn that girls had periods, we learned nothing else, which is a disgrace in my opinion. I can completely understand the way Mary Kate is at the start of the book and I’m so glad she had someone like Alex to stand by her side. I think Mary Kate grew the most in this book and I loved to see her become a much more confident young woman.
Pat: Pat was a fascinating character, and I didn’t quite know what to think about him, but I grew to like him and rooted for him and Alex. I loved that he helped Alex and got her a venue for her play. It was so great to read about them because they were so funny together!
Priests and Nuns: These characters were such a big part of the book that I can’t write a review and not mention them. To be honest, I found them to be very ridiculous and I laughed so much every time Alex stood up to them and saw them get into such states just by hearing the word “vagina”.
Feminism: I’m not sure I’ve read a book centred on feminism before, but after reading Bad Habits, I’ll definitely pick up more books with this theme in the future. I think this book was really interesting because it showed Alex’s feminism, but also the feminism portrayed by the people in her Feminist Club, and the opinions of people all around her.
Body positivity and sex-positivity: This is something I am 1000% for and I get so angry to see people bully and shame others for their appearance. I was a little bit angry reading this book when people basically melted into the ground and fainted on hearing words like “vagina”, “fuck” and others and especially the fact that everyone went to see Alex when they had questions or issues. It just goes to show that so many out there are still so embarrassed and ashamed about their bodies and their sexuality, and that is not okay. I think this book has the potential to start so many important and long-overdue discussions on these topics and I’ll force this book into as many hands as I can.
The importance of knowing and accepting oneself: This is also such an important theme and one I have personally struggled with my whole life. I’m on the heavier side myself and have always had issues with my body, my weight, my appearance, and it’s only now that I’m starting to accept myself that I can see how important it is to know that however you are, you are enough.
High school setting and teenagers: I also don’t read that many books set in a high school and with teenagers going to school and such as I generally read mostly fantasy, but it’s a theme that I’ve read more of lately and really enjoyed. We didn’t get much of a high school and classes setting, a few mentions of homework and classes, but this book was focused on Alex trying to set up her play of The Vagina Monologues on campus and everything that happened in the dorms and when Alex and Mary Kate were going about their lives.
Theatre/Play: I used to do theatre/drama in high school (for 9 years!!) and I miss it so much, so seeing Alex trying to pull off her play and change people’s ideas and opinions was great to read about! Theatre can be so fun and can bring a lot of questions and discussions to people who maybe didn’t think of them before. Just like books, movies, documentaries and other sources of culture and knowledge, theatre is so important and something I personally adore. I loved hearing about The Vagina Monologues, and I totally want to read this play now.
Humour: This is something that I usually shy away from in books because let me tell you, I think myself hilarious when I’m clearly not and I don’t get jokes, like never. I’m that annoying friend who’ll analysis a joke before laughing and say “that doesn’t make sense” when it’s supposed to be funny. I hardly laugh when reading because things just don’t seem funny to me, but this book MADE ME LAUGH! I can’t count the number of times I chuckled and laughed out loud reading Bad Habits and that really shows how great the humour is in this book. It’s clever, reactionary, funny, witty and just great fun!
MY THOUGHTS AND RATING
Overall, this was a fantastic, funny, sensitive, important, poignant and great book that I enjoyed from start to finish and laughed out loud about numerous times. A lot of moments in this book had me mentally cheering the characters on and I was just hoping that Alex would get her play the way she wanted, that Mary Kate would get her walk around the lake and her boyfriend even though I thought her wish was a little ridiculous, and I wanted Alex to crush through the patriarchy and smash down those prejudices and restrictive ideals.
The writing style was so fluid, it read so easily and fast. I was immersed in this book and had a great time reading it. The author’s prose was a joy to read and I salute her for making me laugh so much. The book was written in such a funny, witty, snarky and clever way that I couldn’t help but be fully engaged in it and root for the characters! I will definitely be reading more books by this author!
I gave this book 4.5 stars, you can find my full ASPECTS rating below. I struggle with YA contemporary usually, but this was a great book and I enjoyed it thoroughly. Just missing a little spark and maybe a little slow at times, but I highly recommend this book to YA contemporary fans who love witty prose, complex and interesting characters with strong ideals and important topics and discussions.
Thank you once again to Dave, Flynn and Penguin for allowing me to be part of this tour, it was such a great experience!
That’s all for now, I hope you enjoyed reading this post, see you soon, stay safe,
ABOUT THE AUTHOR – FLYNN MEANEY
Flynn Meaney grew up in Mamaroneck, New York, ten minutes away from Pelham, home to the fictional Finbar Frame. She graduated from Rye Neck High School, where she participated in every nerdy activity imaginable, including Mock Trial, Academic Challenge, literary magazine and the school band. Flynn’s hilarious high school friends and their conversations preserved in letters, emails, and notes passed in class have provided endless inspiration for her YA writing.
Flynn went on to study Marketing and French at the University of Notre Dame, where she spent many Saturdays standing on bleachers in the freezing cold cheering on a losing football team (Go Irish!) and also took her first creative writing workshop courses. She studied abroad in Paris and also at University College Dublin.
After graduating from Notre Dame in 2009 with President Obama as her commencement speaker (and successfully sneaking snacks past the Secret Service under her graduation robe), Flynn moved back to New York to study poetry at Hunter College and hang out with her vampire-obsessed friend Lucila, whose comment “Now that vampires are so hot, we can stop tanning” planted the first seeds of the idea for Bloodthirsty.
In 2012, Flynn finished her degree at Hunter College and her second YA novel, The Boy Recession. Bad Habits is Flynn Meaney’s third book.
Flynn’s Links: Website
Atmosphere – 6
Start – 7
Pacing – 7
Ending – 7.5
Characters – 7.5
Theme – 8
Style – 8.5
Total = 51.5
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