“sy”-as-in-“my” ko-sa) is a junior in high school. She belongs to an
exclusive clique of girls called the “Queens.” The leader is her best
friend Niko. Their friendship has been strained lately because
Tom—Sykosa’s first boyfriend boyfriend—has gotten all serious about
making her his pretty Prom princess. That is if he ever gets around to
asking her. Before Prom, there’s a party at Niko’s cottage where
parental supervision will be nil. He wants to have sex. She doesn’t. He
sometimes acts like that doesn’t matter.
has a secret she has never told anyone about. Although, some people—Tom
included—know anyway. It happened last year and it was big and she’ll
cry if she talks about it so she’s done talking about it, okay? Never
mind, it’s nobody’s business. Except it keeps happening, and it never
stops. She doesn’t want to deal with it. He does. She sometimes acts
like that doesn’t matter.
It matters. “
I wanted to love Sykosa. The premise spoke to me, I like the fact that it’s a YA set in current reality (instead of making everything a metaphor because it’s supernatural), I like the fact that it involves a Catholic Parish school and the main characters are Asian (both very far from my experience), and I like that the author is young, new, and from Seattle.
Parts of it I did- there were a few witty turns of phrase, and some aspects of Sykosa’s thoughts/obsessions/observations about her relation to her BFF and her mom struck me as very accurate to my own experience as a teen, and unique in the world of YA. The two main characters are nicely complex, as well. And clearly there’s an all-too-often-occurring nod to the roles we play when something is implicitly “owed”.
- jumping timelines, which got confusing;
- constant hints to a bad incident that happened in the past (which, spoiler alert, we never find out what it is….very frustrating);
- switching between third person and first person voice made every “she” a confusing one (reference to Sykosa? Niko?);
- absolute lack of male characters as anything but a function (where is Niko’s dad during all of this??);
- conflicting character drives in a seemingly-contrived way (Niko pushes boundaries because she needs a mother to set them and love her, and lacks that, but Sykosa’s desires seem to be muddled and mostly nonexistent);
- Sykosa having conflicted sexuality in truth but not in words, and this never getting pointed out (she’s so coldly removed from joy or desire with a boy, but constantly obsessing over female body parts and using more masculine/removed/derogatory terms for them);
- the language (which was shockingly foul when used in private- I cussed a lot as a kid, but mainly when trying to impress others and sound older, never in my everyday train of thought, especially with regard to the body parts of someone I love)