December 26, 2014

Girl Defective - Simmone Howell

Girl Defective Simmone Howell book cover
Girl Defective by Simmone Howell
Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: September 2, 2014
Source/Format: Publisher (Thank you!) || ARC

This is the story of a wild girl and a ghost girl; a boy who knew nothing and a boy who thought he knew everything.

It’s a story about Skylark Martin, who lives with her father and brother in a vintage record shop and is trying to find her place in the world. It’s about ten-year-old Super Agent Gully and his case of a lifetime. And about beautiful, reckless, sharp-as-knives Nancy. It’s about tragi-hot Luke, and just-plain-tragic Mia Casey. It’s about the dark underbelly of a curious neighborhood. It’s about summer, and weirdness, and mystery, and music.

And it's about life and death and grief and romance. All the good stuff. (from Goodreads)

Whenever I’m faced with something abstract or unusual, it usually takes some time to come to terms with how I feel about the subject in question. Such was the case with Girl Defective. The interesting thing is that I know that many other readers might not feel this way. In fact, just eyeing the summary, one might even say that it seems like a pretty run of the mill contemporary tale. But, for me, Girl Defective was populated with oddball characters and scenarios that toe the line between real and dreamlike. And all of that, combined with some pretty heavy stuff, makes for something unique.

It is the characters, really, that worked for me in Girl Defective. There’s an abundance of exaggerated personalities, and yet, it somehow manages to still read as real as any other contemporary. Skylark (nickname: Sky) Martin is a girl of many facets, with a taste for music and adventure, a practical mind and incredible loyalty. She narrates the way any teenager would: at times, she’s practical, and at other times, she’s lost in her own mind. Her world consists of her home, her dad’s record shop and the people in her life – her father, her rambunctious little brother Seagull (aka Agent Gully), her worldly and enigmatic friend Nancy and the mysterious Luke, who is hired to work at the record shop. The cast of characters do feel like caricatures of themselves, true. But it’s undeniable that, at some point, they began to matter to me, as I had grown attached to them and concerned for their welfare.

When it comes to story, Girl Defective is a real tangled web. There are quite a few plot threads to follow – Nancy’s mysterious life, Luke Casey’s deceased sister, Agent Gully’s case as he tries to figure out who broke their windows. (And these threads do have surprisingly darker twists sometimes.) But the one that stood out the most to me is watching Sky work things out with her family and their future. It’s a struggle many readers, myself included, will relate to, and what was most familiar to me amongst everything else going on.

Really, Girl Defective was a very different reading experience, as I don’t think I’ve read anything quite like it in a long, long time. Though I didn’t fall completely in love with it, there are definitely things I liked about it – particularly this memorable cast of characters. If you’re looking for something new to try, then definitely give this one a shot.


  1. Love your review, Alexa! I've been wanting to read this book for some time now because of how unique it sounded and I'm so glad you confirmed that. I'm also drawn to books whose characters stand out and reading your insights, I think Girl Defective might work out well for me. :)


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