The Exact Opposite of Okay by Laura Steven | Review

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Rating: ★★★★★

Release Date: March 8th, 2018

Trigger Warnings: racist comments, homophobic comments, sexism, slut shaming, asshole guys, creepy older men, depression, anxiety, revenge porn, the death of parents, sex (not graphic)

Pages: 335

Publisher: Electric Monkey

Genre: young adult, contemporary, romance, feminism

Goodreads blurb:

Izzy O’Neill is an aspiring comic, an impoverished orphan, and a Slut Extraordinaire. Or at least, that’s what the malicious website flying round the school says. Izzy can try all she wants to laugh it off – after all, her sex life, her terms – but when pictures emerge of her doing the dirty with a politician’s son, her life suddenly becomes the centre of a national scandal. Izzy’s never been ashamed of herself before, and she’s not going to start now. But keeping her head up will take everything she has… 

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R E V I E W

I went in to The Exact Opposite of Okay expecting absolutely nothing. I didn’t think I would even like it. I’d read the first page on my Kindle at least seven times and gone ‘eh no thanks’ before I finally decided to completely jump in. I absolutely loved it. It is one of the most organically real and raw stories I have ever read. The main character is not a person you’re even meant to necessarily like. However, this book exposes so much of the ingrained sexism I had. I hadn’t even bloody noticed and now I am going out of my way to change. This is a feminist novel without ever saying the word. It is a book that makes you evaluate your own personal views.

The Exact Opposite of Okay tells the story of Izzy O’Neill through blog posts written by the main character herself. The story is told in days and different times, leaving you feeling as if you’re getting an inside view on Izzy. This story took a turn that I did not exact and I was here for it. All is going well for her until a site is created that starts leaking her sexual experiences, including photos. It’s absolutely disgusting. This person manages to hack the phones of several people to leak even more information. Neither of the boys who are involved in this is ridiculed. Only Izzy. She is labelled a whore and a slut. It is fucking disgusting. Not a single person wants to stand by her, apart from her best friends Danny and Ajita. The story follows the slut-shaming and utter loss that Izzy feels while also having he deal with her best friend Danny’s romantic interest (in which she doesn’t reciprocate). This book is literally just such a delightful and amazing look at the world. The realness of it literally took my breath away and left me sobbing. Not only that but this book also shows what it’s like to not be that smart and to maybe not want to go to college. I know YA books focus largely on this but it’s not everyone’s dream. I don’t want to say too much because I really want people to read this book.

Time to jump into what I liked and didn’t like about The Exact Opposite of Okay (spoiler alert, I loved it). Hopefully, some of these reasons will help with your decision to pick up this book.

what I liked

SUPPORTIVE FEMALE CHARACTERS

Betty (Izzy’s grandmother) and Ajita are the supported female characters I want in my life. Ajita literally throws kiwi fruits at people in support of her best friend and Betty screams down the school. These two female characters are kickass. Not to say that Izzy needed the help but sometimes it is nice to have that support.
Also, in situations where slut-shaming and revenge porn are the centre of the story some authors struggle with giving the main character a supportive group of friends and family. I really think the author did an amazing job with this one because she included both while also having Izzy go through her own struggles internally.

UNLIKEABLE MC

Okay, it’s not that Izzy is unlikeable. It’s that I know a lot of y’all hate female characters who aren’t nice and the social stereotypes. Not everyone, but a lot of y’all. Izzy literally doesn’t care what anyone thinks of her. She is strong, she is badass, and she will do whatever the fuck she wants with her body. An icon, honestly. Izzy does go through some character development throughout this book but at the end of the day she doesn’t change her fundamental values despite all the ridicule she is facing from people.

SO REALISTIC

I’m truly blown away by how realistic this book is. I truly can’t believe it. I can’t talk a lot on the slut-shaming because despite the fact I experienced it (hello girl who told my entire year 12 class I was a slut and made everyone hate me) I don’t feel as if I experienced it on this level. The big thing I found realistic in this was Danny. Danny and Izzy have been best friends since childhood and at the beginning of the book he realizes he likes her. He goes out of his way to shower her with gifts in a very ‘white male privilege’ kind of way. He is a classic ‘nice guy’ and if I haven’t come across SO MANY of those in my life. It was terrifying to see how well the author wrote this particular part of the story and it was truly eye-opening to a lot of my own personal experiences I had brushed off.

SEX CURIOUS MC

I did write a whole blog post on this (YA is maturing and it’s good, click here) but it just feels so good to see a female main character to be having sex. It feels weird to write but girls can do whatever the heck they want with their bodies. The disappointing thing is that there is slut-shaming but Izzy isn’t ashamed of the fact she’s had sex. It is not a terrible thing to have sex. If you want to, do it. If you don’t, don’t do it. It is just so delightful to see something so normal represented in fiction. For anyone wondering, the sex is not graphics. Izzy mentions it in her blog posts.

ROMANCE IS THERE BUT PERFECT

I was really scared that the romance would take the center stage throughout The Exact Opposite of Okay. It didn’t. There were hints of romance and what’s to come but nothing that makes you go ‘bleh’. I think the author interwove it into the story very well, not giving it the spotlight and allowing Izzy’s struggles to shine through in a way that breaks your heart.

what I didn’t like

NEEDED THIS STORY TO BE LONGER

I wrote up these likes and dislikes straight after I finished this particular book. Only problem is on this particular dislike is that I’ve just found out this book will has a sequel. So disregard this. The second book will show Izzy dealing with romance, friendships and what to do after high school.

Overall, The Exact Opposite of Okay is a book that is going to stay with me for some time. It is truly deep and eye-opening. The story is one that is completely unique. I can happily say I recommend this book completely and will be shoving it into everyone’s arms I can. The Exact Opposite of Okay is one of those novels that will hopefully change YA fiction for the better. 

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Happy reading everyone!

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6 thoughts on “The Exact Opposite of Okay by Laura Steven | Review

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