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Belle's Bookshelf

"With a dreamy far-off look, and her nose stuck in a book..."

Currently reading

What Maisie Knew
Henry James
My Friend the Enemy
Dan Smith
Worlds of Arthur: Facts and Fictions of the Dark Ages
Guy Halsall
Preloved - Shirley Marr First things first, I have to get some disclaimery stuff out of the way: I received a copy of Preloved from the author, because I won a competition to have a cameo in the book. BAM that's right I'm like totes famous. The reason I'm mentioning this is not to brag (much), but so that I won't be accused of sekrit bias. Well, maybe I still will be, minus the sekrit part. But I promise I would have loved this book just as much if I had just randomly picked it up at a book shop. Bookworm's honour.That's right, I loved this book. Like any good nerd, I have a passion for '80s pop culture. Preloved not only features a protagonist with an affinity for '80s pop culture (we first meet her when she is dressed up as Princess Buttercup from The Princess Bride - be still my heart!), but it also features a ghost from the '80s. A hot boy ghost from the '80s. Oh heeeey there Preloved, I think you might be my book soul mate. Can we be BFFs?Speaking of BFFs, Amy is, like, totally tubular ('80s slang FTW! Uh, I mean - righteous, dude!). She was feisty and smart, but what I loved most of all was that, as she mentions herself, she is the kind of character who is normally relegated to sidekick status, while her bestie, Rebecca (more on her in a sec) is the star of the show. Not so in Preloved, and it is so refreshing. So many YA books these days seem to have characters that are same old, same old, so when a uniquely awesome protagonist comes along, it's, like, bitchin' to the max (are you sick of the '80s slang yet? NEVER! Oh, that's just me?).As for Rebecca, wow, I couldn't stand that girl. She is so pretentious and self-centred, and I caught myself thinking, "Amy, why are you friends with this airhead?!". But of course, I totally get it. I was the sidekick in high school to a girl who would ditch me when someone cooler came along, did things just to be seen as cool, craved the attention of boys (and got it), and subtly put me down to make herself feel better. I didn't really see it at the time - she was just my best friend. But in hindsight, wow. It's no wonder I wanted to reach into the book and shake Amy for putting up with Rebecca's crap - but, of course, she has to realise for herself that she's worth more, and this became one of my favourite parts of her journey.Another of my favourite parts was Amy's relationship with her mum. At the beginning she has difficulty connecting with her mother, and doesn't have a lot of tolerance for her mum's extensive superstitions (which, BTW, were another fun, unique aspect of the book), but as she finds herself actually being haunted, she has to increasingly turn to her mother for help and comfort. I loved seeing their relationship grow and develop as they learned to understand each other better. I felt for Amy's mum and her fear of losing her daughter. It was so real and incredibly touching.I just realised I've gotten pretty far into my review and I haven't even talked about Amy's love interest, Logan, yet. I think this is because, while there is definitely a love story there, Logan and Amy's relationship functions less as the main plotline and more as a vehicle for Amy to grow and explore her own life and how she feels about herself and the others around her. There is no "ZOMG, INSTA-LOVE, 2GETHA 4EVA" crap here - and I loved it.The only complaint I have is that I wish there was more - certain parts seemed very brief and I would have liked more details, especially regarding the backstory with Logan and the flashbacks to how he died. But Preloved as a whole was a lot of fun. It's unique and quirky, but it also has a lot of heart. It's such a refreshing read; I'd definitely recommend it to anybody who is tired of the same tedious YA stories and characters that keep appearing. Basically, Preloved is totally radical, dudes!This review appears in full on my blog.