Alice Oseman, born in Kent in 1994, is an English author. Her debut novel, 'Solitaire', was published in July 2014.
Solitaire follows Tori Spring, a pessimistic 16-year-old who likes to sleep and likes to blog. When her school comes under threat from a group of anarchist online bloggers, she is pulled out of her comfort zone and is forced to face up to real life. It’s a story about the difficulty of forming and holding onto friendships; struggling to keep yourself together; learning to be okay; being able to see the people that surround you as whole beings with full lives and difficulties; and learning that fantasy is not reality.
Solitaire is an example of young adult fiction at its finest: unflinchingly honest, touching, gritty, funny and heartbreaking. It's a raw, realistic glimpse into school and life, which tackles powerful themes and social/emotional issues. Much of the insight given comes from Oseman herself – she wrote Solitaire at age 17, making it one of the rare young adult novels actually written by a member of the demographic it's intended for. It truly feels like secondary school, with melodramatic teenagers and students hating homework and life, which comes straight from the fact that Oseman is barely out of her teens herself.This is something that makes the book stand out from other contemporary YA coming-of-age stories and adds an interesting dynamic to it.
The novel is ultimately character driven, which works well as the characters and their relationships feel three dimensional and well fleshed out. It’s easy to feel involved with and get invested in the storyline. Tori, in spite of (or maybe because of) her unrelenting negativity and pessimism, makes for an oddly endearing and hugely compelling protagonist. She has a bad attitude and knows it, and watching her develop and evolve as the world around her changes is captivating. Even minor characters are given the chance to develop, and feel well rounded as they come to life on the page.
Solitaire is an all round enthralling novel, easy to pick up and impossible to put down. Though some may feel the tone is slightly too gloomy or cynical, I’d recommend it to anyone who enjoys authors such as John Green and Stephen Chbosky.