Extreme Kissing by Luisa Plaja
|Extreme Kissing by Luisa Plaja
|Reviewer: Carly Bennett
|Summary: Extreme Kissing is every bit as exciting and romantic as the title suggests. Well-written and fast paced, with twists and turns at every corner.
|Date: April 2009
|Publisher: Corgi Children's Books
|External links: Author's website
Meet Carlota and Bethany, two best friends who embark on an extreme adventure to try and escape both the pressures of exam revision and, more importantly, the secrets they are keeping from each other. Carlota is the rebel, a Spanish beauty with a wild past and a stepfather from hell. Bethany is the good girl, the one parents trust and the one with the long term boyfriend. Who won't text her back.
It's a month until the beginning of their GCSEs and Carlota and Bethany both know they need to get away from their problems, if only for a day. Bethany can't shake the feeling that her boyfriend (of seven months, two weeks and a day) might be cheating on her. That and the fact she's late. Meanwhile, Carlota can't stop thinking about Yves, her dreamy ex-boyfriend from Brussels and the reason she was moved to school in England.
Carlota comes up with the idea of Extreme Travelling, where each activity is determined by the pages of a magazine and together, the two girls head for London, armed with the latest copy of Teen Spice. Cue run-ins with the paparazzi, live performances on a TV talent show and Kisses Etcetera in the back of a limousine.
I devoured Extreme Kissing in one grey afternoon, smiling from beginning to end. Plaja's humour is subtle and the dialogue between the girls is spot on. The idea to write the novel from the point of view of both girls is genius and I think this is where the novel's main strength lies.
On the outside Carlota may seem crazy, erratic and spontaneous but, particularly in the final chapters, we get to see the real Carlota, who isn't quite what she seems. Her vulnerability is what makes her so likeable and Plaja did a great job of creating a character that felt so whole, it was like reading about one of my friends.
Bethany's dry sarcasm is hilarious and, for me, much funnier than Carlota's more obvious sense of humour. Everything about Bethany is more understated and, at first, the contrast between the two girls worried me but it is brilliantly executed and makes the book so enjoyable. One of my favourite scenes is when Bethany and Carlota are posing as tour operators on a London bus and I feel this scene is the perfect example of Plaja's humourous writing:
The bus moves off and I take a deep breath. I'm not scared, anyway! 'If you look to your left you'll see a road…and several other roads coming off it.' Bets is smirking, but I don't care. I'm doing really well! My voice is ringing out loud and clear and only a bit crackly! Besides, so what? 'And you'll notice some buildings. Tall ones. Very tall!'
'Lots, Steve's going to chuck us off the bus as this rate,' Bets says quickly.
'I shush her with my hand. 'People working in that building make a lot of money. And they spend it at Harrods or something.'
'See, it's easy!' Bets doesn't need to worry. The bus turns down a busy dual carriageway and I add, 'Note the cars below. There are blue ones, red ones and white ones. Those are the colours of the British flag.' That's sure to be a tourist pleaser.
Bethany and Carlota are both so real, so authentic, that I couldn't help but be drawn into their lives, their secrets and their pasts. I laughed at their embarrassing moments, I celebrated their triumphs and, by the closing chapter, I'm not ashamed to admit I had shed one or two tears.
What I liked so much about this book is that it stands out among the hundreds of other teen fiction books that share similar characters and a similar story. Extreme Kissing is real. The secrets the girls are keeping and the challenges they have to overcome are issues that teen girls face every day. I'm so pleased that Plaja chose the ending she did, it just reinforces the strength of the novel and reminds us all that, however desperate a situation might seem, there's always hope.
I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to The Bookbag.
For more hilarious teen fiction written in the first person, I'd suggest My So-called Life: The Tragically Normal Diary of Rachel Riley by Joanna Nadin or Planet Janet by Dyan Sheldon.
You can read more book reviews or buy Extreme Kissing by Luisa Plaja at Amazon.co.uk Amazon currently charges £2.99 for standard delivery for orders under £20, over which delivery is free.
You can read more book reviews or buy Extreme Kissing by Luisa Plaja at Amazon.com.
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