Lissa is sick and tired of her quarterback boyfriend Randy ignoring her come football season due to Hamilton High’s long time rivalry between the football players and the soccer players. Lissa sends out an email to the girlfriends of the football and soccer players and comes up with a plan to end the rivalry once and for all. The answer? A hook-up strike. As long as the rivalry is going on, Lissa and the other girlfriends will deny their boyfriends the action they’ve come to love.
A few weeks into the strike, things begin to change. The boys don’t cave in, and instead, they turn the strike into an all out war between girls and boys. With Lissa as the ringleader for the girls, she tries to remain strong, but after a sticky situation with Randy and unexpected sexual tension from sexy soccer player Cash Sterling, Lissa isn’t sure the strike was the best idea to begin with.
It’s safe to say that I am 100 percent obsessed with Kody Keplinger and will pretty much read anything she writes from here on out based on how much I loved her first novel, THE DUFF, and her sophomore novel, SHUT OUT. Impressed doesn’t even come close to the word I would use to describe Keplinger’s writing. I am just so in awe that someone so close to my age can come up with these amazing ideas, write such wonderful books and have them published.
The concept of SHUT OUT comes from the Greek myth LYSISTRATA; so clearly while I wasn’t paying attention to classics and Greek myths in high school English class, Kody Keplinger was buzzing with fantastic book ideas. But seriously, the idea of this book fascinated me. I love how Keplinger was able to take a concept from such an old story and completely breathe new life into it. The rivalry had me intrigued from the beginning, and when the girls rallied together against the boys, I was completely hooked.
I adored Lissa. What a fantastic main character. In both SHUT OUT and THE DUFF, I really admire Keplinger’s ability to create real characters. Characters I can relate to. I can hear their voices as I read, and that’s one quality I absolutely love and crave in a good book. One of my favorite parts of the book was Lissa’s discovery that what started out as an all-out war over an old rivalry delved so much deeper into issues like sex, peer pressure and self-worth. I enjoyed watching Lissa change and grow throughout the novel. She went from someone who I really liked from the beginning to someone I absolutely respected and rooted for all the way to the end.
Another thing I loved in SHUT OUT was the close friendships that developed between Lissa and the group of girlfriends involved in the war. The slumber party scenes were pure fun and made me wish I had a bigger group of girlfriends. It was interesting to see this group of girls who previously were not friends because of their boyfriends become friends and learn more about themselves in the process due to the rivalry. I also particularly enjoyed getting to know Lissa’s best friend Chloe whose voice struck me as so real, I wished she could have jumped off the page and become my best friend. Her sense of humor and attitude towards boys and life were so spot-on.
If there’s one thing Keplinger does better than almost any author I’ve read recently, it’s writing a damn sexy male main character. I fell head over heels in love with Cash Sterling (swoon swoon) from the very beginning of the book. Besides his amazing name (which Keplinger pokes fun at in the book) Cash had all of the attributes I would want in a boyfriend. Sweet, funny, smart (the boy reads books! A lot!) and handsome…he’s pretty hard to resist.
I also appreciated the relationship between Lissa and her father. I have a soft-spot for books about fathers and daughters who have strong relationships, and it’s something I’d like to see a lot more of in YA. Lissa’s family situation made me so sad, but I love how she was able to make the most of it by really taking care of her father and brother. On the flip side, I loved how obvious Lissa’s dad love was for her.
Oh, and as a bonus? Much of this book took place in a library. With one pretty s-e-x-y scene in the bookshelves. Lissa and Cash both work at the local library; this small fact just added to my adoration of this book.
In my review of THE DUFF, I wrote that Keplinger had written a game-changer in YA. I still stand completely behind that argument. I love that Keplinger pushes the envelope and discusses topics that many might consider taboo in young adult fiction. Plus, I love that she doesn’t push the envelope just to push the envelope. She does it for a reason. She gets readers thinking and questioning the norm, because after all, if there’s one thing I’ve learned from Keplinger’s novels, it’s that normal just doesn’t exist.