Juno is scared of a lot of things. Climate change, urban foxes, zombies – the usual. So when she goes on a skiing holiday with her mum’s adrenaline-mad new husband and his tearaway twins, she doesn’t hold much hope of surviving. Then she meets Boy. Gruff, hairy and thrill-seeking, he’s everything Juno doesn’t like. Or is he? Juno’s about to discover there’s nothing more scary than falling in love.
Love and Other Man-Made Disasters was on a list of recent summer releases that I wrote a couple of weeks ago, and I’ve been meaning to write up a review for a while, so here it finally is! There were so many aspects of this book that I loved, so I’m very happy to be able to share them.
For a start, I loved the protagonist, Juno, and the way the book opens: with a list of things she was scared of. There was a range of things on the list, from zombies to failing her A Levels, and the last two things lead into the story – namely, her parents’ divorce, and having to go on a skiing holiday with her mother, stepfather and stepbrothers. It was a great way to introduce the story and one of Juno’s main characteristics, and kept me interested right from the beginning.
Another reason I loved Juno was because she always tried to be helpful and polite, and challenged herself to go for things. For example, she helped out the chalet girl when the tasks were mounting up and the dishwasher had broken, among other examples. The main instance in which this is shown makes up the entire second half of the book, so I’m not going to say it here as it would be a massive spoiler, but it really was an enormous challenge. Even someone who wasn’t particularly scared of things may have been daunted by what Juno decided to do, and I thought that it showed a great character arc.
I liked that the romance in the book wasn’t over the top. It would have been very easy to overdo it, but I thought that things were kept relatively realistic. People don’t tend to fall in love over the course of two weeks, so this would have been an unrealistic motive for making the aforementioned big decision. The different motive of guilt and a feeling of responsibility was, in my opinion, much more believable, and also very consistent with Juno’s character.
I do think that the fact that Juno was allowed to go ahead with her decision was a little unrealistic, as from a responsible parent perspective, it probably wasn’t the most sensible decision. However, it was an essential plot point in the book, to the romance and to Juno developing as a person, so overall it was necessary, and made as realistic as possible.
Juno wasn’t the only interesting character; in fact, I would say that one of the main strengths of the book was that all of the characters were strong and distinctive. In particular, I thought Boy was really interesting, and I liked that he was vulnerable behind his strong front. I also liked the fact that it was set on a skiing trip in winter, which I thought was a really fun concept, and the perfect setting to challenge Juno to face her fears.
Overall, I loved the strong characters, and thought that Love and Other Man-Made Disasters explored the idea of challenging yourself and facing your fears really well in a very entertaining way. There was romance, there was learning to how to be brave and independent, but also how to be reliant on others and let go of independence, and I am really looking forward to reading Nicola Doherty’s next YA book, Girl Offline, as I enjoyed this one so much.