Thursday, May 19, 2011

Review: Class Collision

Annette Mackey
Young Adult
283 pages
Outskirts Press
Available Now
Received from author for review

David has always been privileged and wealthy, he doesn't know anything different. He's used to having servants wait on him, a doting mother to shower him in praise, and an older brother to stay hidden in the shadows while he's in the limelight. With his extravagant lifestyle has grown an attitude to match, and David often takes pleasure in tearing down those around him for no other reason than to cause them pain.

That all changes when he and his brother Alex are kidnapped, held for ransom, and brutally beaten. In a failed escape attempt, David is left behind, distracting his captors so his brother can run to safety. Presumed dead by his family, David is forced to deal with the reality of the Great Depression, and for the next several years until he's sixteen, he struggles day to day just to survive.

In the course of his search for a new job David meets Linda, the daughter of his new employer. Though she's beautiful, she has an attitude similar to the one he had when he was younger–indifferent to the thoughts and feelings of those around her and seemingly only interested in selfish pursuits. Like David however, there's more to Linda than her prickly demeanor, and in each other they find something for which they didn't know they had been searching. The cruel reality of the time in which they live begins to puncture the small bubble of happiness they're forming with one another however, and they realize they must make a decision that will irrevocably change the course of their future.

Don't let your first visual impression of Class Collision deter you from picking it up. Though outwardly this book appears a bit bland and uninteresting–its cover ultimately reminiscent of a collegiate textbook–what awaits us in between the pages is far more intriguing and engrossing than first glance might suggest. This is a powerful and compelling read, one that illustrates for us the many types of abuse, our eyes forced brutally open as we bear witness to characters who both dispense and endure punishment with either a sharp tongue or a closed fist. Class Collision is a beautifully executed character study, showing us just how truly complex human nature is by putting both the protagonists and the secondary characters in difficult situations that leave us feeling a little like scientists on the other side of the glass, studiously watching enthralled as their reactions to their circumstances shock, anger, please, and confuse us simultaneously.

Both David and Linda are individuals who incite warring emotions in us, at times infuriating us to a degree where we're not sure we'll ever connect to them personally, and then slowly revealing new facets of their personalities that allow us to better understand their thoughts and actions as they begin to earn our respect. Many times in young adult fiction, characters meet another person who makes them want to change, but their progression into this new state of being is seemingly instant as they shed the old persona with ease and pull the new one on with no lingering remnants of the previous personality left in tact. Primarily with David, but certainly with Linda as well, the mental and emotional progression is believably gradual–the old habits and bothersome flaws never fade completely but instead rear up now and again even as they both attempt to remedy past mistakes, making the two of them individuals whom we see honestly and clearly without being blinded by the beauty of their fictional perfection.

Along with two perfectly imperfect main characters, we are also given a monstrous villain, for lack of a better term, in Linda's father Gordon. While venom spews from his mouth regarding his "rights" as a father and vicarious pain radiates from the places his fists make contact, an intense loathing begins to stir in our guts and travels to our lips to curl them in disgust as our only form of protest against his actions. For those who love to read stories where the characters inspire intense emotional reactions and exist in shades of gray that make it impossible to reduce them to a one-word label other than to say they are not-so-simply human, then this is the perfect read. We are left with the wide open expanse of possibility laid out before David and Linda, and I'm certainly looking forward to seeing where their drive and determination takes them next.

Rating: 4/5


  1. I'm glad you mentioned about the cover, because I think I may have seen this book reviewed before, but overlooked it because of the cover. I like the fact that the characters don't change right away... that's definitely more realistic than most stories. This sounds like quite an interesting and thoughtful read!

  2. I agree the cover does make it look like collegiate textbook and therefore I would probably walk past it. It is nice to know that underneath it is an interesting story with characters that you get emotionally invested it. Great review Jenny :)

  3. Ahhh...your review is almost as good as the book itself...:)I remember reading over the winter and I loved how David grew throughout the story. I think its been very overlooked this year.

  4. Oh...I like the sound of this one. Fabulous review Jenny. So, this is a series?

  5. Ashley - The cover doesn't do the book justice. I actually think it might have a new cover now which is good:) I really enjoyed the story though!

    Nic - It was so different from my normal paranormal reads which was really fun. Such good characters:)

    Tina - Thanks! And I agree, this one deserves a little more buzz:)

    Tori - I know there is definitely a sequel, I'm not sure if there are more after that though:)

  6. It's sad when a great book gets overlooked because of the cover. I am glad to hear that Class Collision has a great story with characters that you could connect to.
    Thanks for the review!

  7. Sometimes the covers just don't do the book justice! I am glad that you overall enjoyed the book. It's always great to get some good surprises!

  8. I do confess to seeing the cover and thinking sorry but no. But then that is cos I am a horrible coverlover ;)

  9. Ha! I had the same thought when I saw the cover--"is this educational?"
    Glad to hear Class Collision was a powerful read!

  10. Have you see the cover update? Pretty boy lying down? *le sigh*

    Lovely review, Jenny. I'm not sure if I'm ready for the emotional entanglement this book is bound to inspire, but I have had my eye on it for a long time now, and I got it on my Kindle, so I really have no excuse now, huh?

  11. "Class Collision" is so different from my normal paranormal reads. I love shady characters because there is so much discuss and analyze. This one definitely sounds like it's up my alley and will put it in my TBR pile. Thanks for reviewing this Jenny, I would've not known about it at all.

  12. I probably would have passed on this book by the cover alone. If it wasnt for your review I wouldnt know that there was such a compelling story in between the pages.

  13. The cover wouldn't have inspired me either. I love a dastardly villain. Thanks for the review. I would have never checked this one our otherwise!

  14. Misha - I definitely would have past right on by this one based on the cover, but I'm so glad I gave it a chance:)

    Savy - Exactly! I would have been missing out if I let the cover stop me.

    Blodeuedd - It can't be helped sometimes, but the story is great.

    Lauren - It looks educational doesn't it! I swear I have some history textbooks that look just like it, but this was way more entertaining:)

    Missie - I just saw when I went to do my post last night. MUCH better:)

    Rummanah - I hope you give it a try, I liked all the character complexity:)

    Jenny - Glad I could bring this one to your attention!

  15. I keep reading all these reviews of adult novels and I am beginning to see I really should expand my reading addiction. I don't know if I would have passed it on the cover, but it does have a bit of an educational look to it. Great review!

  16. LOL! I was thinking... what does that cover remind me of and then I read your review. Perfectly thought! It does look like a college book. I do like to read a book where the characters are complex and you get to see different layers. I also like a "good" villan to really get things going. Hm... sounds like something I might enjoy! Brilly review as usual!

  17. I'm such a cover whore... This would definitely be a Nookbook. (I know... I'm a horrible person!) Good thing you love me!

    Totally separated at birth!

  18. Jan - It's a YA book I believe. The characters are teenagers:)

    Melissa - I wanted to punch this guy in the face, especially when started going off about his "rights". Punch. In. The. Face.

    Ashley - Me too, I can't help it! And I do adore you:)

  19. Great review. I love a good character novel. It's nice to have people that you feel strongly about. I really hate this cover though. It's pretty, but totally inappropriate for the subject.

  20. I added this to my wishlist after Melissa recommended it and said not to judge it by its cover. So, it's good to see that you liked it too. I like that both David and Linda change gradually because that does it make it more realistic. Great review, Jenny!

  21. Alyssa - You're welcome, hope you give it a try!

    Alison - The cover does nothing for me, but there's a good story behind it:)

    Zahida - I like how imperfect both David and Linda are, they had to make me work to like them and it was kind of rewarding when they finally won me over:)

  22. Thanks so much for the review - your right I have passed over this book before and now see it with a new perspective - on the wishlist it goes!