Happy Valentines day to you all! What a wonderful day to dedicate to loving yourself, your romantic halves, friends and of course smashing the Patriarchy! Today is my stop on The Write Reads blog tour for the fabulous Bad Habits by Flynn Meaney!
Hilarious, bold, sparky and surprising, this is the funniest feminist book you’ll read all year.
Alex is a rebel from the tip of her purple fauxhawk to the toes of her biker boots. She’s tried everything she can think of to get expelled from her strict Catholic boarding school. Nothing has worked so far – but now, Alex has a new plan.
Tired of the sexism she sees in every corner of St Mary’s, Alex decides to stage the school’s first ever production of The Vagina Monologues. Which is going to be a challenge, as no one else at St Mary’s can even bear to say the word ‘vagina’ out loud . . .
I gotta tell you, a big SFF geek like myself really doesn’t make a habit these days to read outside of maybe 3 genres. YA contemporary books most of all. But as someone who had purple hair until a week ago, wore motorcycle boots until they were leaking and went to the most rigid of Catholic primary schools, this book was basically in my lane when the idea entered the authors head. This book was everything that I would look for in a book like this. Sarcasm, tampons being thrown at idiot dudes and some old fashioned rage at all things that repress the masses.
The characters are absolute standouts here. Alex is a rebel both with a cause and without one, but she is unapologetically herself. It’s something I do see a lot more in fantasy these days but for me to pick up a book outside my comfort zone and see a main character just as ballsy was absolutely wonderful. What I really loved was Alex and Mary Kate’s relationship as both best friends and room mates. There is a strong, caring bond between them both that I just think was very positive in a few ways. Mary Kate is a very clearly an opposite to Alex being both an attentive student and a little more conservative in her behavior (basically she doesn’t vandalise anything or call the priests and nuns names) but she isn’t afraid to remind Alex when she is out of line. Alex does well to remind Mary Kate of blatant sexism and how she doesn’t need to be ashamed of her bodily functions or buying tampons she has to buy for the same function. There is love, definite frustration at each other and genuine solid friendship and I was very glad to see it as the main relationship in this story instead of a romantic one.
There is a lot to be said for the great discussions this book has on sexism, religious orders causing opression and the general bias towards sport in the American education system but I do have to mention the ignorance of students who chose to embrace either chastity over being sexual or just general privilege. I give credit for the fact it doesn’t go unmentioned in the book, Alex definitely gets called out for making people uncomfortable and generally forgetting her own privileged position but I do think it would have made this book go the full distance to see Alex not only stick up for women being able to say ‘vagina’ without shame but respect those who might not be either straight or as sexual as she is. There is definitely a turning point towards the end and if there is ever a sequel, I do think the author would approach these things a lot more head on.
One thing I can’t take away from the book is just how much it made me laugh. The book is very funny and I do think the humour was very well placed because I am someone who does need comedic relief. Especially when tackling heavy topics like the stories tackled in the Vagina Monologues. The jokes always landed for me, even unconventionally funny parts were timed super well and balanced the emotion of a moment perfectly. Sometimes, some things that are wrong with society are so bizarre that you have to laugh at them just to cope.
I’d like to thank both The Write Reads for having me on the tour and Penguin Random House for sending me a digital copy of the book in exchange for a review. Bad Habits is out since the 11th of February. Thanks for checking in folks! Happy reading!