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Tuesday, 29 March 2016

'Dreaming of Antigone' by Robin Bridges

*This review will contain spoilers!*

First things first, I want to say a huge thank you to Kensington Books for accepting my request to view this title on NetGalley, and to NetGalley for the service that they provide. 

'Dreaming of Antigone' is one of those novels that tries to deal with a lot of different issues, but only ends up touching upon them rather lightly. Our protagonist, Andria, is dealing with depression (well, I assume it's depression - she refuses to eat and suffers from insomnia, but it's never explicitly dealt with) following the death of her twin sister, Iris, six months ago. Andria blames Iris's boyfriend, Alex, for her death: he was a drug addict, and she thinks he's the one that caused Iris to go off of the rails and take the heroin that killed her.
I thought this book was going to deal with Andria coming to terms with Iris's death and forgiving Alex, but that happened pretty early in the book. In fact, you'd think Iris had been dead for a lot longer: Andria doesn't struggle that much! Her relationship with Alex is very love/hate (within the same chapter she goes from saying she could "so easily fall in love with this boy" to saying "I can definitely say I hate Alex Hammond") but it's obvious that they're going to end up together due to their mutual love of poetry and the shared loss of Iris, so there's no tension there.
Then I thought the book was going to deal with the allegations aimed towards Andria's stepfather, Craig, who is accused of having an affair with one of the girls on the school soccer team that he coaches. Paedophilia isn't regularly dealt with in YA, so I was surprised by the inclusion and I thought it would become a story of Andria trying to clear Craig's name... However, within a couple of pages the allegations have been confirmed through the discovery of Iris's journal, in which she recounts the multiple times that he sexually abuses her from the age of 12. So then I thought it was going to be a story about Andria coming to terms with the discovery of the abuse in her family, but she seems to deal with that quite easily too.
Can you see what I mean about the fact that 'Dreaming of Antigone' tries to deal with too much?! It doesn't really have a plot, just a bunch of mini plots. Will Andria get her driver's license, or will her epilepsy cause a seizure? Will Andria improve her grades or flunk out of school? Will Andria's dog live or die? Will Andria and Alex end up together? It's exhausting.
There were things I enjoyed about 'Dreaming of Antigone'. Andria's interests in astronomy were very interesting - I haven't read any other YA that included stargazing, and the descriptions are beautiful. The poetry quotes throughout were also nice, as I discovered some new poets that I hadn't heard of before and that's always something I'm going to enjoy. I hadn't heard the story of Antigone before, so it was nice to learn about that piece of Greek literature, and it's something I'm likely to read more about sooner rather than later, as the themes seem very intriguing.
I just feel as though Robin Bridges tried to do too much with this book. It's okay to just deal with one or two teenage issues, you don't need to tackle them all! It was a brave attempt, but it didn't pay off. It was the same all the way through (in the last chapter of the book, Iris's best friend Trista announces that she kissed her on the night that she died... Did we really need a random lesbian moment?!) and some of the inclusions definitely weren't relevant to the story. It feels like the focus of the story is definitely Andria and Alex's burgeoning relationship, but because all of the other plots are happening as well it's extremely cluttered, and I genuinely don't feel as though I read a novel rather than read a bunch of potential plot lines.

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