Shut Out, by Kody Keplinger

Publisher: Poppy; 1 edition (September 5, 2011)

Format: Kindle Edition

Giiiiiirl, what are we gonna do? Our boyfriends are feuding, they’re leaving us stranded buck naked in the front seats of cars to go beat up one another, and we can’t have one conversation that doesn’t include the words “football-soccer-feud”. We need a plan, stat.

Two words for you: sex strike.

No joke.

Plot:

Lissa is tired of her footballer boyfriend, Randy, running out on her during some pretty heavy makeout sessions in his car. Problem is, Randy and all the other boys on the football team think it’s normal to leave their girlfriends naked and frustrated in motor vehicles just to satisfy some deep seated male craving for revenge. See, the football and soccer teams are feuding and it ain’t pretty. Both sides have been fighting for so long that they don’t even realize what they’re fighting about. Lissa has had enough and calls an emergency meeting of the girlfriends of the football and soccer players. Their goal: operation stop the feud. The only way they can devise to stop it is to withhold sex. For reals. The ensuing battle of the sexes is spurred on by Lissa herself and soccer stud, Cash Sterling, a boy Lissa has unresolved feelings for and the defacto leader of the boys. As these two egg each other on, and the sex strike lingers far too long for either side, we learn about how skewed society’s perception of male/female sexuality is and how relationships based on sex will easily crumble. The sex strike becomes a battle of wills between Lissa and Cash who are each letting their past interactions with one another dictate the present. In the end, their antagonism blossoms into genuine feeling and Lissa ditches Randy the dud and finally declares her true feelings for (and wish for sexy time with) Cash.

Review:

It’s no secret that Kody Keplinger borrows heavily from Aristophanes’ Lysistrata for this book. Heck, Cash Sterling is constantly pushing the play on Lissa in a misguided attempt to woo her so you know from

the get go that there will be no surprises. And to be honest, there aren’t. But it works all the same. This is a book about women using a sex strike to get what they want and their men doing their hardest to make the women as frustrated as they are. Shut Out very obviously aims to point out the discrepancies between societal views of male/female sexuality but it’s done in a heavy handed way. For example, Keplinger plays on those views by portraying the one sexually liberated character (Lissa’s bf, Chloe) as the product of a broken home and cheating father. Why are girls from broken homes always portrayed as sexually promiscuous? Keplinger’s just playing into stereotypes of good girls vs bad girls with this. What would have been more interesting would be using a sexually liberated product of a good home to prove that girls who sleep around are not byproducts of their environment and that sexually is dictated by a person not by outside forces. But I digress…Shut Out is most notably a love story set against the backdrop of a sex strike. The two main characters act as protagonist and antagonist for one another as their personal battle of wills ratchets the sexual tension higher and higher. It makes for squeal inducing moments, especially when Lissa decides to push Cash to his limit by finally making out with him and then leaving. What I find most interesting is that through the sex strike, we see the true personalities of the characters emerge–some, like Randy, Lissa’s boyfriend, are true to character: shallow football players who fool around because their girlfriends aren’t putting out; others, like Cash, are shown as the sensitive, brooding types who treat women with the utmost respect and actually care about feelings vs sexy time; the girls seem easily led and wishy washy while Lissa comes off as vindictive yet earnest at the same time. All in all, the love story set against the backdrop of a sex strike is an interesting plot device and it kept me wanting more as I was forced to wait to the very end to see if Lissa sticks with douchebag Randy or chooses the hunky Cash. We all know who the better man was of course (come on, Randy left her naked in his car! No self respecting YA fiction heroine would ever pick him)

Based on the following criteria:

How much did I like the heroine: 7. Lissa was pretty spunky and I find a certain amount of spunkiness endearing. It’s pretty impressive that she spearheaded a sex strike in order to get her man to fall in line but too bad we don’t find out til much later that she’s actually a virgin and not really giving anything up at all. On the plus side, she gets to fool around with a swoonworthy soccer stud named Cash. I guess I just wish I could have been her in high school.

How much did I like the love interest: 10. Cash! Swoon! He was sensitive, worked at the library (squee!!!), played soccer and probably had delicious soccer legs…

How believable is the plot: 7. Obviously pretty believable if Aristophanes was writing about the same scenario 2000 years ago. The modern updating makes the idea fresh but seriously, how long could a bunch of horny high schoolers hold off? Especially when the majority of them were dating soccer players (have I mentioned I have a thing for hot soccer player legs?)

How much did I like the writing style/editing/etc: 7. For being a writer of only 19 or 20, Kody Keplinger has an amazing grasp of pacing and does a fantastic job with her dialogue. She gets bonus points for plagiarizing an ancient greek playwright (props!) and her ability to deal delicately with an overtly sexual theme make this a great read.

How much did I want to keep reading: 10. Mainly I wanted to hear more about Cash and since we don’t see as much I’d have liked until the end, well, I was left panting! Would they or wouldn’t they get together?

Final Score: 8 / 10. Solid read for anyone who likes sex pushed in the face for an entire book. I admit it: I’m someone who likes it.

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