Book Review: Fly on the Wall by E. Lockhart

At the Manhattan School for Art and Music, where everyone is “different” and everyone is “special,” Gretchen Yee feels ordinary. She’s the kind of girl who sits alone at lunch, drawing pictures of Spider-Man, so she won’t have to talk to anyone; who has a crush on Titus but won’t do anything about it; who has no one to hang out with when her best (and only real) friend Katya is busy.
One day, Gretchen wishes that she could be a fly on the wall in the boys’ locker room–just to learn more about guys. What are they really like? What do they really talk about? Are they really cretins most of the time?
Fly on the Wall is the story of how that wish comes true.

I’m sitting on the bus this morning, and I don’t feel like reading the book I’m currently reading, so I flicked through what I had on my kindle, and landed upon Fly on the Wall by E. Lockhart, and decided to start that. I read my whole journey to work, and when I go to turn my kindle off, I see I’m at 33%. 33%?? In like 40 minutes? Oh wow, I might finish this book today I think. But also, not much has happened in a third of the book. Not a lot at all.

Anyway, I go on my lunch and I pick up my kindle and start reading again…. and she’s a fly??? I didn’t think the title would be so literal. And then she’s a fly for about a third of the book, in which, yet again, not much happened.

So unfortunately, I was a little disappointed with this book, mainly because very little actually happened plot wise. And I found the writing style to be a bit of a jumble – why did it need italicised sections for her thoughts when it was written in first person anyway?

The bits I did enjoy weren’t explored enough for my liking. Titus obviously had severe body image issues and that is something that is so rarely even mentioned for male characters or in society at all, that it would have been perfect for Lockhart to bring that issue to attention and talk about that more. The way that the ‘Art Rats” casual homophobic language is called out is also an amazing thing that happened, because it’s something I’m sure we’re all guilty of, and while we might not associate it with actual LBGTQ people, it’s still harmful and needs to be stopped. So that side of the story, I was behind all the way. But the majority of the book was just nothingness. I’m sure the reason I read it within a day was because it was short to begin with, but then I was able to skip pages that were just full of the thoughts as a fly which were not interesting or necessary, and because through skimming through them I could tell that ‘so and so came in for second period, then someone else for third, the exact same thing which happened yesterday.’

So yeah, this wasn’t the kind of book I was expecting, I’ll admit that. I thought it would be straight up contemporary YA, without this detour involving the main character being a fly for half the book. I really have adored We Were Liars and The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks, and so had high hopes for this one too, but I’m afraid it fell short for me. I rate this book 3/5 stars. I’m still really looking forward to her next one though!

Katie x


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