“It’s ’86, the era of Pop Rocks, Jelly shoes, and big hair bands. Rachael O’Brien’s freshman plan seems simple: Attend a southern college away from her hometown of Canton, Ohio, earn a degree, party, and meet cute guys—hopefully acing the latter two.
But being threatened by a jealous She-Devil, avoiding the advances of a thirty-something redneck, and discovering an art fraud scheme mess with her “to do” list. On top of her troubles at school, Rachael finds herself forging a new relationship with her emotionally shaken father after Mom abandons the family to pursue a psychic calling.
Bad decision-making, law-bending behavior, and surprise romances make freshman year challenging in Paisley Ray’s DEEP FRIED AND PICKLED quick-witted, south-of-the-Mason-Dixon romp.”
I really loved the characters, Macy especially.
It captured the feeling of going to college really well. I felt like I want to go back to college and live in the dorms (and considering I just graduated, the fresh horror of the dorms should have been enough to stop that feeling).
I liked that there was so much going on, what with her mom leaving and so much drama at school plus the art stuff.
I think that there should have been a little more focus on the crazy stalker thing at the end. I just personally thought it was amazing twist, but then it was over almost as soon as it started.
Personally, I wasn’t as invested in the art thief story line, but that’s just because I don’t really care about art. If I found out some big scandal like that had happened in my hometown I’d just shrug, so that’s kinda what I did in the story, but I did like the action and drama that went along with it.
Would I recommend it?:
Yes! The author (who was really friendly, by the way) offered this book in exchange for an honest review and said that a lot of older women liked the story (as in, the women who had been young during the time this book is set in) but being 21 I think that this book is really good for anyone who is college-aged. Basically, if you’re worried about starting college, nothing is going to be as bad as Rachel’s first year.
Shelled and Shucked, book three in the series, is free right now on Amazon through the 27th, so snag it now while it’s hot!
I was born for one purpose. My duty in life is to provide nourishment to the Peelers, to help fuel their lives by giving my own. My life was dark for some time, a flash of brightness before I and my brothers were taken away from our home. I don’t know how much time passed between then and now, but here I sit surrounded by my brothers waiting to be chosen, to be given my chance to live.
I am still a young creature, firm and green like my brothers. I know that now, in the Choosing Place, is a critical time for us. If we are allowed to age on these shelves, we will die uneaten. Our coats will rot and we will turn to slime and there will be only regret and despair until there is nothing more. Our lives will be a waste.
We are thrown carelessly into a basket by a Peeler, all of my brothers and I. I am filled with joy to know that we have passed this critical test. We circle the Choosing Place as distant cousins and foreign things are thrown into the basket next to us. We come to the Gates of Freedom in the Choosing Place and the Handler puts us in bags for the Peeler.
One Heroine: Jennifer James, burdened by brains, struggling to release her Inner Babe
One High School: London Road Comprehensive, a no-hope English school in a no-hope English town
One Prize: A scholarship to the elite St. Willibald’s College [Jennifer’s idea of Paradise] offered to the winner of a tacky reality TV show, Down The Bog
and . . .
A Thousand Complications: Like Jocasta, the crazy feminist mother; Tallulah, the blond rival from hell; Marcus, the guy with green eyes; and above all, the actual real reality that Jennifer’s chances of winning are less than Mega-Zero.”
So basically, there’s this little nobody girl whose school is put onto a reality TV show. Nobody Girl gets to be one of the students on the reality show and so cameras follow her around at school and she has the chance to win a completely paid scholarship to some rich kid boarding school. Nobody Girl struggles in the competition because she is, essentially, a nobody, but with some help she pulls through and makes it to the end of the competition. Drama, silly names, and even more teenage drama will accompany Nobody Girl as she fights for the prize.
Overall, it’s an amusing read if you don’t think too much about it. It makes fun of reality shows and provides an afternoon’s entertainment (or longer, depending how fast you read).
There are some interesting characters. There were only a few times when a name was mentioned and I had to think hard about who that person actually was, despite the large cast.
It did the diary thing pretty well. You still could feel like it was a real story, but there was a lot of narrating rather than just showing what happened just because of the style.
Jeers (possible spoilers):
Jennifer James is a bit of a Mary Sue. Her only flaw is being bad a gym and being shy and nervous. In my opinion, shyness/nervousness/clumsiness is the first thing writers go to when they realize their female characters have no flaw. The whole time I was a bit annoyed with how generic she was.
Jennifer’s little brother is a prop. Sorry, but I don’t like it when authors add siblings just to give the main character more depth. It’s mentioned once that her little brother is just starting school, then never mentioned again. He’s basically there because she once took him to the park and that helped her interact with a boy.
Jennifer’s parents were having serious martial problems and it’s all solved because Jennifer told her dad to buy her mother flowers. I just wasn’t satisfied by that part of the story. I wanted to know more about her dad, why he was so quiet and more about his job and how the move from Jennifer’s old school affected the family. Her mom went from being INSANE to completely normal from a bouquet of flowers and a concert even though she almost had an affair? It was just all very unrealistic.
I didn’t like the love interest one bit. I just didn’t feel his appeal. I feel like the entire reason that Jennifer chased him was because he had green eyes. That was it. I liked the boy she rejected much more and the way that plot line resolved itself left much to be desired.
The text talk. Oh god, the text talk. Jennifer is supposed to be this really intelligent girl who wants to get into Oxford but she sends txts dat lok lyke dis. No, worse than that, actually. It was painful.
Would I recommend it?:
Only if you could borrow it or buy it cheap. It isn’t high-quality reading, just something to pass the time that you don’t have to think about it. It wasn’t super bad, but it didn’t stand out at all. Overall, it was a novel with an interesting (though unrealistic) premise and a meh execution.