Saturday, July 23, 2011

So Shelly by Ty Roth

Title: So Shelly
Author: Ty Roth
Publisher: Random House Children's Books
Release Date: February 8, 2011
Date Read: July 11, 2011
Rating: 4/5 stars 

Until now, high school junior, John Keats, has only tiptoed near the edges of the vortex that is schoolmate and literary prodigy, Gordon Byron. That is, until their mutual friend, Shelly, drowns in a sailing accident.

After stealing Shelly's ashes from her wake at Trinity Catholic High School, the boys set a course for the small Lake Erie island where Shelly's body had washed ashore and to where she wished to be returned. It would be one last "so Shelly" romantic quest. At least that's what they think. As they navigate around the obstacles and resist temptations during their odyssey, Keats and Gordon glue together the shattered pieces of Shelly's and their own pasts while attempting to make sense of her tragic and premature end.
This is a textbook example of how not reading the summary can make for a better reading experience. I had absolutely no idea what So Shelly was about and based on the cover I assumed it was some sort of paranormal romance. Instead I was completely surprised when it was an angst-filled contemporary romance.

I absolutely love analytical reads. You've probably noticed if you're a follower but the majority of my reviews are really wordy and intellectual. I love analysing my books to look for symbolism and character development. Books like So Shelly already have the analysis waiting on the pages for me and deciphering it even further is almost like a gift. While some reading might find that the intellectual writing takes away from the heart-breaking dialogue and romance I argue that it adds an extra oomph to the tragedy.

I found many circumstances in the novel to be highly unrealistic or improbable based on today's social norms and typical teenage behaviour and was all ready to complain for the rest of the book until I read the epilogue/author notes. Ty Roth tried to mirror Shelly, Keats, and Gordon's lives as much as possible and back in the 1800s, they led very... interesting lives. I don't think it would've been as much of a tribute to them if he'd edited them out but it made for a very scandalous novel.

If you didn't like reading Frankenstein in English or hate poetry, please try So Shelly. Reading about the lives of the authors in a semi-fictional world inspired me to read more of their works and I absolutely fell in love. YA literature is a great way to introduce teens to great topics especially other authors' works. Oh! And if you loved Bright Star as much as I did, this is the icing on the cake. 

Favourite Quote: "He ignores me because he loves me."

Recommended: How to Say Goodbye in Robot (Natalie Standiford), The Secret Year (Jennifer R. Hubbard), Thirteen Reasons Why (Jay Asher), The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks (E. Lockhart)


  1. I've been dying to read this book for ages -- and now I'm even more excited! I love intellectual reads, and this sounds very Gothic and haunting. Great review!

  2. Thanks for sharing your thoughts! I tend not to read book summaries because I feel it gives away a lot of the book or it can be misleading lol. This book sounds interesting, I will have to pick it up eventually!

  3. I've been waiting for this one to come in at the library for a while now. I'm so glad that you enjoyed it! I can't wait to read it myself. :) Thanks for sharing your review!

  4. I've always thought this must be a paranormal romance! It sounds like and interesting and different read. Must check it out! :)

  5. angsty contemp? I swear, I would've never guessed :p this one seems really different from the 'typical' contemp,, not sure if it's for me but it looks interesting :) great review! And you guys read Frankenstein in English? Wow:p my school never did any of that!

  6. I thought it was a paranormal too. I loved Frankenstein defo going to keep a look out for this one thanks :D

  7. I bought this one a while back because I was so intrigued by the Shelly, Keats, and Gordon tie-in, but I haven't gotten around to reading it yet. I'm hoping to get to it in the near future though, especially since you enjoyed it so much. Thanks for the review!


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