ttyl – Lauren Myracle

ttyl book coverOn The Cover: Told entirely in instant messages, this smart, funny novel is about the humor ;), hangovers :|, and heartaches :'( of high school, and the friendships that get you through it all.

On the first day of tenth grade, best friends Maddie (mad maddie), Angela (SnowAngel), and Zoe (zoegirl) vow not to let school stupidness get them down…or split them apart. But as the weeks pass and the instant messages accumulate, it’s clear that tenth grade will be a roller coaster ride of boy temptation, math torture, donut emergencies, and Queen Bee encounters. Then a jerky boy sends puppy Angela into the dumps, tough Maddie makes a mistake that has the whole school talking, and good girl Zoe gets in over her head with a flirty teacher. Will the winsome threesome make it through the year?

Published: 2004

Why I Chose It: I’ve wanted to read this book for a while. I was curious about how well the instant messaging format worked in novel form.

The Review:

I have mixed feelings about this book, because there were parts that were really interesting and parts that I really disliked. The instant messaging I found really easy to read. Myracle differentiated between the three girls by using different colours (black and blue), a bold effect, and different fonts. It was really easy to recognize who was writing, so I didn’t have to stop and read the handle in the middle of the conversation. It really helped with the flow of the dialogue.

However, I would have liked a time stamp attached to each of the messages sent. I know that it would make the page quite cluttered to have a time stamp, and that’s probably why they weren’t included – instead, headings were used in indicate the date and time of when the conversation began. But I didn’t like this. Generally a new heading meant a new day, but sometimes there were lapses of time in the conversation, and there would be a new heading. So while I assumed it was a new day, it was actually only later in that same night. I also found myself flipping back to the headings to try and figure out what day it was, so that I could try and establish a timeline throughout the story. I just felt like the conversations didn’t really convey the passage of time well, and that I struggled to connect to the headings that were provided.

As for the characters, I wasn’t that attached to any of them. At the very beginning I thought that they were pretty one dimensional. You had the mopey emo girl, the girl obsessed with getting high grades, and the girl who falls in love with every boy she meets. This did get better the further I got into the book, because through the dialogue you start to see the multiple sides of each girl, but it was pretty off-putting at the beginning. By the end of the book did I like the characters? No, not really. They’re three 15 year old girls. They’re incredibly immature and self-centered and really annoying at times. But I have to give Myracle credit, because it genuinely felt like I was reading conversations between 3 teenage girls.  She set out to create these characters and I admire how well she did that – even if I didn’t like them very much.

One of the big issues I had with the book is how dated it felt. It was written ten years ago, and I felt that even the page looked dated. There are also references to websites or social media that aren’t current and while I knew what the book was talking about, it just didn’t feel current. I also started wondering if teens even used a form of instant messaging, or if today they use things like Snapchat or Facebook messenger to chat. I don’t really know, it just made me wonder. Here’s a quick glimpse at what the page looks like for the novel:

Now interestingly enough, I’ve learned that Myracle actually republished this story in February 2014 with an updated look, and updated references. As far as I know she didn’t change anything to the overall story. I think that’s pretty interesting in terms of how many times you can republish the same book and market it to the next generation of tweens…But I digress. Here’s a shot of what the new pages look like in the 2014 e-book edition:

 

So, again, mixed feelings. I think that the instant messaging format is a very interesting way to tell a story, especially to get into some really nice dialogue between characters. But obviously there are difficulties with a format like this. It’s outdated quickly, and constantly needs to be updated to remain current with the next generation – something that may be more plausible with an e-book edition than a published book. I also feel that the content was iffy – the characters I felt were really immature, but the audience can’t be too young, as they make quite a few sexual references while chatting.

And yet I totally got into the story by the end. I wanted to know what happened! Plus I didn’t find the conversations were just regurgitation of what happened offline – they read like genuine conversations between two friends who needed to discuss what had happened. It didn’t feel forced at all, it felt very natural. I do think that Myracle has more to offer than what I found here, and I will probably check out her other work to see what else she’s done.

Rating: 3 / 5

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2 comments on “ttyl – Lauren Myracle

  1. I find it interesting that the author decided to update the book! That’s the thing with books heavy on pop culture references and slang, it becomes outdated so quickly! I’ve had my eye on this book for a while too (because I love epistolary novels), but the plot synopsis never really appealed to me.

    • Yeah, I wasn’t really sold on the story. It’s funny, though, I feel like the author was really capable to so much more – like maybe she was trying to hard to be a 15 year old? I really want to check out what else she’s written. But I did like the format (I agree, epistolary novels are awesome – I love fictional diaries and journals. Best.) It makes me wonder what else you could do with it (Other than 15 year olds…) :P

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