ABOUT THE BOOKSo, I’m DD and I’m going to be rich and famous because I’m making a film on (hold the phone still, will ya?) high school life. All the secrets, fights, crazy exam pressure, brainiacs and show offs (not you, not you!). Only, everyone wants to be the star (hey you, get out of the frame!). It’s got drama and hysterics, historics, sorry, histrionics. And my mom’s got Mr Horns. And I still haven’t got a boyfriend or a dog. And then, the lurker appears. And it all gets super scary. And he’s coming closer – so I’ve gotta run. Fast. Bye! See ya inside!
- Uncool is a funny, light-hearted look at a year in the life of DD – your average eighth standard student with crazy friends, a mixed-up family, and plenty of internal turmoil. DD wants to be a documentary filmmaker, and has decided to use her phone to film the whole of her life in eighth grade. She keeps a record of her relationships with friends, classmates, and teachers at school, and of her tumultuous home life – her father has been out of the picture since she was little, her older sister is by turns mean, friendly and secretive, and her mother is a workaholic who is trying to get her romantic life back on track. Amidst all of this is the “lurker”, a mysterious figure who keeps appearing outside DD’s school and trying to follow her. This book attempts to capture the workings of DD’s adolescent mind as she faces what life throws at her over the course of the year.
- Uncool is a good introduction to the YA/coming-of-age genre. It deals with issues that will resonate with many young adult readers. From the stress of exams to the confusion and insecurity that comes from having an inattentive parent, the book tries to address a wide range of teenage anxieties.
- The book is a refreshingly visual take on the usual YA diary-entry style format. Whimsical cartoon illustrations accompany most text sections and provide a welcome balance to the rush of thoughts inside DD’s head.
- The book chooses to be unconventional in other ways as well. For one, there is no simple ending that neatly ties up all the conflict points in the plot. Many issues are left open-ended and unresolved. This is a mature choice on the part of the writer, as it reflects the constantly transforming nature of young people’s lives. After all, how can a person’s story possibly end at eighth grade?
- Some scenes in the book are very nuanced and well-conceived. A conversation between DD and her teacher, and brief dialogue exchanges with her friend Sam are particularly complex and sensitively written.
- The book, however, is frustratingly short on detail. Many of the characters are underdeveloped and we know very little about who they are, aside from the brief moments when DD describes them. Even her relationships with her so-called best friends, Sam and Ami, feature so little in the book that we don’t really see why they are best friends. DD’s mother and sister are treated similarly. They are interesting characters, and at the centre of much of what DD goes through, but we do not get a sense of their motivations. The exams, DD’s father’s backstory, and DD’s interactions with her crush Surya could also all have been fleshed out much more. Without this extra weight, the book lacks emotional impact and feels somewhat scattered.
- Ultimately Uncool doesn’t tell a very original or fresh story. Its protagonist, much like that of any coming-of-age story, is intelligent but a misfit, her family is broken, her crush is a shallow boy who prefers to court the most popular girl in class, and her friends are generically kind and spunky. The book uses age-old tropes without reinventing them too much, and despite its quirky narrative style, fails to explore ideas or themes that aren’t already well-established in the YA pantheon.