An Unlikely Superhero

Cinnamon Girl

If I drew my life right at this moment, I’d want it to look something like this brilliant comic-book panel from Wonder Woman: Spirit of Truth.

Officially out on the 11th Feb, here’s a review of a book that will head straight to the top of your YA TBR list – I promise! If you’re not already captured by the amazing title to this debut YA novel, the premise should certainly grab you – a viral YouTube video announces the end of the world and that one town, Eden Valley (a quiet town in rural Australia), is the only place safe to be. Living in Eden Valley, and content with her small-town bubble, is Alba – a rockabilly dressing, comic-strip drawing, bakery inhabiting teen who is about to encounter the most important summer of her life.

Told from the viewpoint of Alba, this laid-back narrative is both incredibly easy to read and incredibly difficult to tear yourself away from. At its heart, it is a simple coming-of-age story but there is an extraordinary premise that drives the action and is effortlessly woven into the narrative to create a heart-warming, hilarious and universally relatable story.

One of the main reasons why I became completely engrossed in this book is the awesomeness of Alba. She’s an amazing protagonist – marching to the beat of her own drum and not caring who watches, and yet she is still incredibly sweet and vulnerable. She is wonderfully self-assured, self-deprecating and has a brilliant sense of humour – basically, as a twenty-something, I aspire to be just like her! Keil  doesn’t shy away from breaking the mould of the picture-perfect protagonist by having Alba as a confident and curvy teen. Her appearance is a huge part of who she is, how she dresses and her refreshing attitude to life and the best thing about it is that it isn’t introduced as an ‘issue’ – it’s one small aspect to a pretty amazing character: no more, no less.

Keil breathes life into every character of Cinnamon Girl and Alba, Grady and their friends are so perfectly formed that they jump off the page. It’s a cleverly drawn portrayal of how one external event becomes the catalyst and metaphor for these characters’ coming of age and how they work out what they want from life, friendship and love becomes completely addictive! There is a romance to the novel that will have you cheerleading the moment you realise what is happening but it’s far from a clichéd or gooey type of YA romance. Keil has written her characters with careful consideration and as such their situations and feelings are so authentically portrayed that you ride along with them without a second thought.

The Incredible Adventures of Cinnamon Girl is a contemporary novel with a unique concept that makes it as refreshing as it is funny and as comforting as it is unpredictable. I would love to read this as a graphic novel – the comic references and artistic creations of Alba make it a prime candidate this awesome format – and I also think it would make an amazing indie film (providing Hollywood doesn’t prettify the characters beyond all recognition). Keil has headed straight to the top of my ‘authors to watch’ list with this beauty!

4 star

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