Just Listen is the third Sarah Dessen book that I have read this year, the first two being Lock and Key and This Lullaby. I have to admit, there’s a warm comforting feeling that I get from Dessen’s books. Even though the novels often tread into dark territory, there’s something about them that make them such pleasant reads. Dessen’s works sidestep some of the issues that plague similarly themed young adult titles. For example, there is a prominent romance in Just Listen, but even though Owen does his best to help Annabel through her problems, he’s not presented as a magic bullet and it’s Annabel that must find solutions to her own issues. I enjoyed the way the book explored the often complex world of female friendships. I think we’ve all known a Sophie growing up, someone who you can’t help be drawn to and care for even though the friendship is not always good for you. I also can’t admire the skill at which Dessen handled certain topics and themes which under a more heavy handed pen, who have seemed like an after school special.
Of course, as I’m quickly finding out, the weakness of Sarah Dessen books is the fact that when you’ve read one Sarah Dessen book, you’ve pretty much read them all. She tends to revisit certain character types and storylines time after time, but she does such a damn good job in delivering that you almost don’t mind. Her characters are wonderfully fleshed out and easier to relate to than you’d think (I may not be a gorgeous teen model, but like Annabel, I’ve never done well with confrontation, especially as a teen). Her stories feel true to life and honest. Not to mention her books are always very well paced. You never feel as if the story is running so fast that it’s out of control, nor does it ever drag.
Just Listen is a great example of great Sarah Dessen book. Although the repetitive nature of her novels is a problem, I found it didn’t bother me as much as it did with This Lullaby. This may be due to the high quality of the story, or simply to the fact that I read This Lullaby very soon after I read Lock and Key, meaning the issues were more apparent. Interpret that how you’d like. I look forward to reading Other Sarah Dessen books in the future.
Rating: four and a half stars
Length: 371 pages
Other books I've read by this author: Dreamland, Lock and Key, This Lullaby
Next I will be reviewing Sense and Sensibility (the graphic novel version) by Jane Austen and adapted by Nancy Butler and God’s War by Kameron Hurley
xposted to temporaryworlds, bookish, and gooreads