Rated Reads

Never Eighteen

by Megan Bostic

Rated: DIRT

Seventeen-year-old Austin is dying and convinces his best friend to spend a weekend driving him around Tacoma and Pierce County to visit friends and acquaintances; he has messages for everyone. Conveniently, each one of his contacts has a problem that Austin knows about, and Austin knows just what to say to try to help this person or that person overcome their particular difficulty. Also conveniently, the entire spectrum of teenage problems is represented in his circle of associates. This journey is his final farewell to everybody, and he sincerely wants his intimates to see themselves as he sees them.

Megan Bostic’s first novel has a very thin layer of altruism, with a small nugget of mystery, surrounding a core of very dark, very disturbing situations that her high-school-age characters all seem to think are perfectly normal. And there really isn’t a plot at all. Yes, the protagonist makes some small difference in the lives of some of those that he visits, but there is no real development of any character. I picked up this book because of the local flavor, and I sincerely regret it. I am amazed that this work was even published; it is the poster piece for the difference between talent and ability: a person that can write is not necessarily a writer.

Rated: DIRT. Absolutely unbelievably foul language and first-person viewpoint of teenage sexual intercourse. Yes, yes, everyone assumes that all teenagers speak and behave like this, but those of us who actually spend time with real teens (that are not our own children) have a little bit different perspective. The subjects of the discussions between Austin and his friends are also pretty hard to swallow; can one group of teens REALLY have ALL of those kinds of experiences? Is our society truly that twisted?

— Reviewed by Craig Smith

Craig Smith is chief medical officer of Tacoma Cat Hospital. In addition to providing book reviews on Rated Reads, he podcasts about feline health issues through iTunes and www.tacomacat.com.

4 Responses to Never Eighteen

  1. Bret says:

    Really? Dude, are you a prude? What is your vast experience with teens? I’m a teacher, I actually spend time with teens, not cats. In fact, the characters in this book seem to be the same demographic as the ones I teach. Yes, they do have these problems, and oftentimes within the same social circle. Yes, they do speak that way. The way Bostic represented their conversations is pretty representative of the way they speak to each other among themselves. Next: Teens have sex. This isn’t that kind of book, however. You make it sound like every detail is written there and the book is nothing more than a porn-fluff piece. Nothing could be further from the truth. Bostic touches on the subject on one case, and then leaves it alone for the reader to fill in (which says something about your imagination, my friend). In another case, the events are well implied, but not graphic (again, I have to question your own thinking.)

    Rating of your review: DIRT.

  2. Bret, we appreciate your input as a reader. However, I will point out that the whole point of this book review website is different from other websites: we’re trying to give a perspective on the content of books we review. Some readers simply do not care to have to read books that are filled with detailed sex or vulgar language, regardless of whether those things are “true to life” or not. And we’d also like to have the opportunity to know what’s in a book before our teens read it. And no, ALL teens do not have sex or speak in vulgar terms. We’re just here to share this information with other readers who don’t want to read filthy material.

  3. L Denehy says:

    Dear Mr. Smith…

    I am not sure if you are aware of this, but Never Eighteen is a work of fiction, and that does require the reader in some cases to accept things that are not necessarily as they would be in real life. Perhaps that is why Austin has the ability to touch those around him in the way he did — something you have difficulty believing in. I have been in school libraries for the past 17 years, and although it is sad to say, many students do have lives that are filled with strife-filled, sad, lonely and dark experiences — and these kids worlds are not in urban settings, but rather in middle-class America. Megan has woven a story around Austin (and in many ways his friend Kaylee) as they face some of these troubles and try to make them better. Isn’t that what we tell our children? Be kind to those around you? Help others? Do unto others as you would have done unto you?

    As for the vivid sexual scenes and foul language, I respectfully disagree. Do they have sex? Yes. BUT it is in no ways as graphic as it is in the many of the books out there. It was portrayed quietly, calmly, lovingly and most importantly, NOT IN DETAIL. The reader, if tuned in, simply knew.

    Megan Bostic’s book Never Eighteen touches on many troubling subjects in a kind, gentle and humane way — leaving those who have read it in a better place. It has been a favorite of my students for the majority of this year — boys and girls alike — and has made for great conversations. I, like them, feel better for having read it. Unfortunately, and respectfully, I think you missed the point. The loss is yours.

  4. Shana says:

    I think is book was inspiring and uplifting. I never thought for a moment that there was anything vulgar about it. This is exactly what teens face on a day to day basis. I have two kids and would love for each one of them to read the book. I think Bostic has amazing talent and I highly recommend this book to any teen ager or adult. I cant wait for Bostics next book.

  • Never Eighteen
  • by Megan Bostic
  • Rated: DIRT
  • Genre: Young adult
  • Reviewer: