Review: Grow Up by Ben Brooks

Published by Penguin
Released April 24, 2012
272 pages
Where I got it: E-galley received from publisher via NetGalley
Rating: ★★☆☆☆

Description (from Goodreads):

Hailed as “one of the most hilarious and well-observed accounts of teenage debauchery you are ever likely to read” by the trendsetting British lifestyle magazine Dazed & Confused, Ben Brooks’s Grow Up is a shocking, stylish, and very modern coming-of-age story.
As Jasper J. Wolf careens through high school, his list of to-dos includes: get high with friends, seduce the hottest girl in school, and, last but not least, expose his stepfather as a murderer. But as growing up soon teaches him, what he wants and what he gets are often wildly different—and decidedly unexpected.

I was really excited to read Grow Up. Looking back on it, I’m not sure why this was, other than I loved the cover art and the description sounded really good. However, there’s a big difference between the way a book is marketed and the book itself. After the first couple of chapters, I started feeling really ambivalent toward this book, and that feeling grew as I read on. There are a lot of funny parts. For instance, the main character, Jasper, has it in his head that his step-father murdered his first wife. Throughout the story, this is woven in anytime he encounters him, and it’s hilarious.

However, Jasper is also a jerk. A big time jerk. So much of what he says and does it utterly immature, and misogynistic on top of it. It was more than not being able to relate to him: I wasn’t able to sympathize with him or even like him. He starts off the book by taking drugs and sleeping with an overweight girl he doesn’t like. Then, he sends messages to her and her parents about her being pregnant in order to shame her and get her in trouble. While I understand that there are guys that act this way, I want nothing to do with them. Jasper’s language is crude, and he tries to shock people constantly. He orders white supremacist stuff to read and wear to his therapist meetings. I think Brooks is going for edgy, but it just comes across as pathetic, immature, and disgusting. I love the voice, but hate what he’s saying.

On top of that, there were two events that just made me sorry I’d read the book. Item 1: A cat is murdered, senselessly, and without meaning much to the plot. Why!? I hate any time a cat is murdered in a book, and this just turned my stomach. Item 2: Jasper drugs and date rapes a girl. He starts to feel badly about it, but his best friend assures him that it wasn’t rape, because pretty much all girls who have sex at parties are wasted anyway, so what was different? It was despicable, and I just couldn’t accept that Jasper never learns a lesson and never has any sort of punishment for the poor way he treats most women.

Grow Up gets points for humor, but overall, I really didn’t like this book. I wish it had retained the style, but had a main character I could enjoy.

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