The Exene Chronicles by Camille A. Collins

exene chronTitle: The Exene Chronicles

Author: Camille A. Collins

Genre: Young adult

Pages: 302

Format: eBook (ARC)

Other: GoodReads, Amazon

Grade: D+(2.5 /5)

Description (from cover):Lia is fourteen and loosing her best friend. First there’s tension between Lia and Ryan over Ryan’s new boyfriend Neil, then one day, when things don’t seem like they could get any worse, Ryan suddenly disappears. Exene Cervenka, punk rock high priestess and front woman of the legendary LA punk band X, is the only person Lia feels she can “talk” to. Through letters and poems, Lia talks to Exene everyday. Lia is also one of a small handful of black kids in her San Diego suburb of Coronado. She can relate to Exene, but if they were to ever meet, would Exene be able to relate to her? Through difficulties and triumphs, and with the searing soundtrack of Exene and her band as her chief inspiration, Lia learns one of life’s most elusive lessons; how to be true to herself.

Quick Review

  • Realistic characters
  • Overly poetic prose that was difficult to understand
  • Problematic handling of adult/child relationship

Detailed Review

Lia and Ryan are fourteen and the best of friends; they do everything together. But when Ryan gets a new boyfriend and disappears, Lia struggles with the disappearance of her best friend and the racism that comes with being one of the only black kids in Coronado. She turns to her idol, a rock musician, by writing letters and poems to her. 

Based on the description, this book sounded amazing. A missing girl? Cool, there’s some mystery. Representation? Diversity is so important! And a classic coming of age story? Heck yes!

But in reality, I found myself disappointed. 

This was a very quick read. It took me about two hours. There were some things that I found interesting. I liked how the format of the stories because they reminded of The House on Mango Street. And Ryan and Lia definitely felt like real teenage girls in that weird and awkward stage of being a new teen but still a kid, so there were moments that were definitely relatable , like when the girls become obsessed with the band X.

But I also found a few things problematic.

Collins’ writing style was a little too poetic for me. It was too elaborate, too ornate. I found myself getting lost in the writing, and I had a hard time comprehending what the writer was actually trying to say.

And I also found some of the content a little problematic. The relationship between Neil and Ryan was gross because Ryan was fourteen, and Neil was twenty-one. But the author doesn’t really seem to look into the problems surrounding that, at least not enough. It was entirely uncomfortable.

Ultimately, this isn’t a book I’d rush out to read. I’m not going to remember it in a week, and I’m probably not going to recommend it to friends. But hey, if you need something to read, it isn’t bad.

*I received a copy of this from  Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.*

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