BOOK REVIEW: Shut Out by Kody KeplingerShut Out by Kody Keplinger
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Most high school sports teams have rivalries with other schools. At Hamilton High, it's a civil war: the football team versus the soccer team. And for her part, Lissa is sick of it. Her quarterback boyfriend, Randy, is always ditching her to go pick a fight with the soccer team or to prank their locker room. And on three separate occasions Randy's car has been egged while he and Lissa were inside, making out. She is done competing with a bunch of sweaty boys for her own boyfriend's attention.

Lissa decides to end the rivalry once and for all: She and the other players' girlfriends go on a hookup strike. The boys won't get any action from them until the football and soccer teams make peace. What they don't count on is a new sort of rivalry: an impossible girls-against-boys showdown that hinges on who will cave to their libidos first. And Lissa never sees her own sexual tension with the leader of the boys, Cash Sterling, coming.

“Because.” Cash’s fingers stilled, resting lightly against the back of my head, which didn’t hurt anymore. He looked down at me for a long second before continuing. “Because I want to see you with someone better than him. Someone who will see how lucky they are to have you.”
I bit my lip, nervous but determined to ask my next question. “Do you happen to have someone particular in mind, Cash?”

4 days, three (attempted) books, and countless exaggerated sighs later, and I can’t get this author’s characters out of my head. You heard me right-I have read two other books since finishing DUFF and nothing compares. I even tried to break back into my normal genre….but nothing seemed to stand up to the quirky inner dialogue of the heroines that this author creates. And, I’ll be the first to admit it, her male leads are unforgettable. First, Wesley. And now, Cash Sterling??? Seriously?? I mean, no, they aren’t amazing or crazy memorable, but they are sweet, endearing, kind-they fall hard for the female leads and they have the confidence and cockiness that gives them that sexy little edge that I have been missing, lately. My point to all this?? I read two other books, fully, before this, and I literally skipped their reviews (don’t worry, I’ll go back to them this week) to write this one. Because when a book makes me feel good…that’s all that matters-and this book made me smile ear to ear.

“Lissa,” Cash said slowly, drawing out the A at the end of my name. “Correct me if I’m wrong, but…Did you just mark a typo in your book?”
I bit my lip. “No. Of course not. Why would you say that?”
“Because you just marked something on the page with a red ink pen-like the ones teachers use to check papers.”
“No, I didn’t.”

5 stars. Sigh. It feels so wrong, but oh so right. I went to put a four, because, come on, how juvenile is this plot?? More than once I tried to imagine any one of my friends picking this up and not rolling their eyes…unsuccessfully, I might add. But then I thought to myself, WTF do I care what people think??? When I have a specific book type in my head, it’s literally the only kind of book that will get a good rating from me. Lately? My choice of poison has been high school drama, sexy boys who have the sweetest touch of possessiveness while not 100% being in a relationship with the main girl, and fun friendships that keep the main character afloat. I dunno. It’s perfect for my mood right now.

“It’s not silly,” he said. “What’s silly is my deep-seated and unreasonable fear of fish.”
I frowned. “Fish? Like food?”
“No, that doesn’t bother me so much. Fish that are alive. I can’t swim in lakes or rivers or anything besides a swimming pool because I’m always convinced the fish are swimming all over me…all slimy and…ugh.”
I laughed, and Cash smiled.
“We all have our quirks,” he said. “This is yours. You wouldn’t be you without it.”

I think the reason I’m so skeptical as to whether other people I know would love this story (I know most of my friends are like me and could overlook any idiosyncrasies and dumb shit in DUFF, because, well, Wesley) or not is the amount of cliches that overflow in these books. I mean, I’m the QUEEN of not liking cliches (Hmm well, no, maybe not, but I roll my eyes sometimes, I swear!!) but for some reason, this author makes the stupidest things, like, say, this war they have going on in the book, seem almost charming. And my biggest warning to anyone who trusts my thoughts or reviews??? This book is dangerously cheesy. It has alll the cheese!!! But only the best kind of cheese.

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So, here’s the plot, in a nutshell. Lissa has a douchey boyfriend, Randy. Randy is on the football team. The football team and the soccer team have this epic (not so epic, it’s more moronic-me and the girls agree on this front) rivalry that’s been going on for years and years….and, while the biggest problem the girls see is that the boys put this childish rivalry ahead of ‘together time’, it’s becoming more than that. People are kind of getting hurt-it’s no longer just an emotional thing. And so, after being put second for the final time, Lissa decides enough is enough. She gathers all the girlfriends of the football and soccer players and induces a strike. What kind of strike, you ask?? Well, it’s simple: No more sex until the rivalry is over. *insert eyeroll* Right?? It sounds soooo juvenile. And, in a way, it is. But then again, I didn’t find it to be so-this author has a way of making it all seem…authentic. Authentic as any teenage melodrama could be. And, hold the eye rolling, I actually really enjoyed this plot. It put the skeezers in the lime light and showed what boys were truly in love with their girls….and what boys just wanted an opportunity to be with certain, aforementioned girls, like, say…Lissa??

I could just make out the boys’ retreating backs as they skirted across Ellen’s backyard and out toward the gravel back roads of Hamilton. The moonlight framed their silhouettes, and for a moment, one paused. I could see him turning his head back, but he was too far off for me to recognize his face as he looked at the house. At the window. At me.
Somehow, I knew it was Cash.

Cash. Cash Sterling. What a sweetheart. He got under my skin, deep. I won’t say he weaseled his way deeper than Wesley in my heart, but he got a nice little spot in the corner, saved all just for him. He was the guy always in the background, always secretly supporting Lissa and helping her when she fell. He was the guy that when her heart got broken time and again, he silently helped her pick up the pieces. I absolutely adored the way he treated her, the way he looked at her. I loved the way he was, just in general. I only wish we’d have gotten more time with him…though, the way it all happened seemed to be perfect, just as it was.

My body was riddled with electric shocks as his kisses grew more intense. My fingers grasped at his short brown hair, pulling him to me. I’d never felt like this, like I wanted to climb into another person’s skin. Like I wanted every inch of him to touch every inch of me, to twine myself around him and never let go. I’d never kissed anyone this way.

So, yeah. I really enjoyed this. It had tons of stuff that was moronic, naturally, with that kind of plot…but I loved it, all the same. The biggest problem I see people having is the assumptions. Assuming it was all a game. Assuming ‘he’ thought he was too good for her. Assuming that kiss wasn’t real. Not talking to each other about what they really felt for one another or what happened in the past…it’s a killer. But, eh. I enjoyed this WAY too much to nitpick. It is what it is-I paid for cheap thrills and wanted petty high school drama. I got it. *singing voice* Drammmaaaaaaaa.

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