Eleanor Updale reviews The Opposite of Chocolate by Julie Bertagna and gives it a battering...
Beware the reviewer who begins her review by telling us that her 14-year-old daughter didn't like the book. "She didn't get to the end. She was defeated by pretentious prose and a story that manages to be predictable and unbelievable at the same time." Who is reviewing the book? Mother or daughter? And since the events in the book only begin to stretch credulity as it reaches its dramatic denouement, if the daughter didn't finish it, what exactly did she find unbelievable? We're not told.
Nor are we given any examples of "a wearingly self-conscious writing style". Updale says, "There are too many contorted metaphors, irritating repetitions and clich?s, and time and again the narrative flow is arrested by paragraphs pointing up the messages." Such criticism would carry more weight if it were accompanied by a sample of a contorted metaphor or irritating repetition.
It is quite clear from reading this review that Updale has read the book with a bee in her bonnet about 'issue-led' fiction ("grim, didactic psychobabble that has dominated teenage fiction for too long"), and as a result completely misread this particular novel, which is not in any way intended as a work of social documentary realism.