‘Adorkable’ Tastes of Cheese & Rape Culture

Oh, how I longed to like Adorkable.

Self-proclaimed nerd Sally Spitz is sick of blind dates. Between her Mom and best friend constantly setting her up against her will, Sal has learned to perfect the art of scaring men away on the first date. There’s only one guy she wants — Becks, her life-long BFF.

In a desperate bid to stop the constant stream of men, Sal has a proposition for Becks. All she wants is for him to pretend to be her boyfriend for a month, just to get a break from dating. But Sal’s real feelings for her fake boyfriend start getting messy, in the most predictable plot to ever exist.

Finishing Adorkable took over a month, but the challenge wasn’t in it’s length. At just 214 pages, this is actually an easy read — if you like cheesy, soul-destroying “romance” novels with a thread of rape culture. Author O’Gorman has clearly never heard of “show, don’t tell,” for the entire book breaks the golden rule. Page after page, we hear of how Sally likes Becks and her sadness that the relationship is fake. She whines and drones until you end up screaming “Fine, we get it!” at your Kindle like a crazy person.

adorkable-coverBut really, that’s practically the entire book in a sentence. Very little actually happens in what is effectively a short story with a lot of padding.

Thrown into the mix of this slow-moving novel are our two leads, cookie cut from the book of character stereotypes. To sum up Sal, she’s your typical under-confident geeky gal in love with her best friend. Meanwhile, Becks is the most popular guy in school and a football star. Because you know, the football star dating the dorky best friend and breaking the status quo is totally new ground.

Fortunately for Becks, his high-school fame allows him to protect Sal without hassle. He’s her white knight in a football jersey (and you’ll want to vomit for it). When he forces another guy to apologise to her, the taste of cheddar is strong. This is far too cheesy.

So, less than zero points for originality.

There was one aspect of Sally that I enjoyed. Her display of uncomfortableness with physical affection is never brought into question. Stereotypically, this is used as a hint of previous abuse. But for Sal, she is just generally nervous. In my experience, it’s quite unique to see a character become jumpy when her crush touches her, particularly as she has been so emotionally close with Becks for years. Personally speaking, I quite dislike the majority of people becoming physically close to me, so it was interesting to not have this written off as an after-effect of abuse.

Spoiler: Throughout Adorkable, you may feel uneasy by how Sally must force herself to stop flinching every time Becks touches her. It’s new territory for her, and she can’t believe what’s happening. But to keep up the act, she and Becks have “lessons” where they practice intimacy so she can appear more comfortable in public. Weird.

Perhaps this was to be a form of “character development,” but Sal doesn’t flinch when Ash kisses her outside of the library. Disturbingly, the entire section reads with undercurrent rape tones.

Leaning down, trapping me between his arms, he placed a hand on the bench on either side [of] my head.

I gulped as he studied my face. His resulting smile was pure bad boy, no nice guy in there whatsoever.

While I sat there in shock, he smoothly closed the space between us, his lips moving over mine.

Concerning, right? Sal has lost her natural instinct to flinch — an obvious sign of discomfort — and instead sits still. This reads as a form of assault, but in the next paragraph, O’Gorman writes “Ash was a great kisser.” Sal compares kissing him with Becks. How has Sal transformed in a matter of seconds from using language that screams discomfort to thinking of how great of a kiss it was?

A perfect example of rape culture if I ever saw one.

Avoid Adorkable if you’re lactose intolerant for it’s unbearably cheesy. This should not be available for young adults to read, who may confuse Ash and Sally’s kiss for romance. Even for a debut novel, O’Gorman should have known better. She clearly has no grasp on how dangerous the language used to convey this moment is.

A repetitive, unoriginal mess. Careful, you may roll your eyes so much that they’ll just roll out of your head. Adorkable is an amateur disaster at best.

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