L.S. Murphy’s YA contemporary romance, Pixelated, blurred some lines in the name of love, but ultimately left me disatisfied

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L.S. Murphy’s YA contemporary romance, Pixelated, blurred some lines in the name of love, but ultimately left me disatisfied

 I gave this book three stars, but other readers may not judge it as harshly if they aren’t looking too closely at the messages it does or does not send.  This is a Bloomsbury Spark publication which means it is only available in ebook format, but it is also more reasonably priced at under $4.    

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Goodreads Summary

Senior Year. Middle of nowhere. What’s the new girl to do?

For Piper Marks, the answer is simple. She’s determined to have her photography rock the cover of National Geographic someday, and moving to Clarkton, Iowa for her last year of high school is not going to stop her. Even if her usual subjects have changed from bright lights and skyscrapers to fields, cows…and more fields. 

But when photographer at the local paper quits in a huff, she steps into his spot. Her new job keeps Piper busy capturing tackles, and zooming in on first downs and end zone dances, not to mention putting her directly in the path of varsity football star Les Williams IV. Her new friends warn her off, but she can’t resist the pull she feels toward this mysterious country boy. But this small town is keeping a secret, and it’s one that could destroy any chance they have to be together. 
It’s up to Piper to decide what to do with the distorted truth. Can she risk exposing her heart? It might be worth it, ’cause Les is about to change her world from black and white to fully saturated color. 

My Thoughts

Pixelated was suppose to be a sweet YA romance that left me feeling lighthearted.  In some ways it was, but as I began to write my review it got me thinking way too hard about what should have been a fluffy read for a sleepy afternoon.  Piper is a narrative voice that most teens will appreciate, with the blend of insecurity and assurance that plagues most young adults. She has a life change that makes her question her place in the world, despite the fact that she has a true sense of herself.  This is a universal experience.  Just when you think you have it all planned out, something can come along and take that feeling away. I think it was important that she retains enough of herself to weather the storm and come out on the other side without anything she really has to be ashamed of.  In that sense, I enjoyed her journey and her resolution.  Then came the deep thoughts.  This book does perpetuate the myth that if you just stick around long enough, his love will eventually get him to break up with her for you.  I hate that myth, and the fact that a YA book empowers it, even if I don’t think that was the author’s intention.  Also, the romantic interest, Les, is a toad.  Even hot, sensitive guys that you are attracted to and feel a soul connection to can be toads, and he is one.  Trust me.  Finally, I felt that some important themes lost their way in the course of the book. The question of friendship is raised several times, but ultimately it fails to leave a clear mark on Piper.  She learns that her ideas of friendship aren’t what they should be, but she never makes the investment in those relationships like she should have.  Her new “friends” are still doing all the work with little reward, even at the end.  This holds true in her relationship with her parents, which still feel glossed over for the purpose of resolution.  Ultimately, I think this is a book that can be appreciated for its simple, predictable road to a happy ending.  It just didn’t work that way for me.
I received an ARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. 

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About queenbook

When the final bell rings, I stash those messy piles of essays and analysis assignments in a desk drawer and I head home to a pile of good books. My kids and dog eat too many chicken nuggets and the house could be neater, but as long as I get my daily read, I guess we are doing all right. When I was twelve and fifteen and eighteen and twenty, I believed I needed to get out there and do those things I had just been reading about, which ended in disaster, tears, a tattoo that scares me every time I catch a glimpse of it in the mirror, and the realization that some of us are meant for action, and some of us are meant to critique the pace of action in a book. I read primarily YA fiction as I have a rather hulking classroom library and a hundred high school readers to engage daily. Nothing makes me happier than coming to school and finding an impatient teenager waiting by my door to turn in a book and get another one just like it. I adore a good zombie, a medieval princess, or girl assassin (I would like them all in one book if you are a writer looking for some inspiration). I add historical mystery to my wish list a year in advance, and you should get out of my way when the next Outlander book comes out. I have an embarrassing fondness for rock star books, but only if they don’t get too trashy and embarrass me. My favorite book of all time is The Blue Castle by L.M. Montgomery. My book boyfriends include Gilbert Blythe, Alonzo Wilder, and Jamie Fraser. They are mine and you can’t have them.

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