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Solitaire, by Alice Oseman, HarperCollins, RRP£7.99, 400 pages
Solitaire is an extraordinary novel for a 17-year-old to have written but, maybe, Alice Oseman, like her protagonist, has an old head on her shoulders.
Book-hater Tori Spring has no friends except ones she despises, listens to Aimee Mann and Elvis Costello and blogs about her chronic pessimism. “Trying too hard at this point is a waste of energy which might otherwise be spent on lovely things such as sleeping and eating and downloading music illegally. I don’t really try hard to do anything.”
Two things rock her world: an imperviously cheerful boy who sets out to change her, and a set of internet-based hoaxers calling themselves Solitaire, who target Tori’s school. In neither case is her scornful pose an adequate response. Oseman leans heavily on the pathetic fallacy, the book is overlong and the motivation of the hoaxers strains credulity. Yet she has captured her characters’ rage, humour and insecurity with aplomb.