Title: London Belongs to Us
Author: Sarra Manning
Publisher: Hot Key Books
UK Release Date: 2nd June 2016
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Seventeen-year-old Sunny’s always been a little bit of a pushover. But when she’s sent a picture of her boyfriend kissing another girl, she knows she’s got to act. What follows is a mad, twelve-hour dash around London – starting at 8pm in Crystal Palace (so far away from civilisation you can’t even get the Tube there) then sweeping through Camden, Shoreditch, Soho, Kensington, Notting Hill . . . and ending up at 8am in Alexandra Palace.
Along the way Sunny meets a whole host of characters she never dreamed she’d have anything in common with – least of all the devilishly handsome (and somewhat vain) French ‘twins’ (they’re really cousins) Jean Luc and Vic. But as this love-letter to London shows, a city is only a sum of its parts, and really it’s the people living there who make up its life and soul. And, as Sunny discovers, everyone – from friends, apparent-enemies, famous bands and even rickshaw drivers – is willing to help a girl on a mission to get her romantic retribution.
I wasn’t really sure what I was expecting out of this book when I started reading, as although I’d heard of books by Sarra Manning before, I’d never actually read any. On the whole I think my feelings towards this book are highly mixed, as there were lots of elements which were fun and bouncy, and it was a rather cool book, but it was very cliché which annoyed me a little. I’m a bit frustrated to be posting my third three-star review (normally I like to make sure there’s a mix, but my last two reviews were three-star as well) but despite toying with the idea of giving this three and a half stars, I ultimately decided that it was a three-star read for me.
Something I really liked about this book was that it was set in one night, which was pretty cool. The story revolves around Sunny as she tries to hunt down her cheating boyfriend around London, so she ends up dashing about all over the place and goes pretty much everywhere you could think of in one night. I also liked how at the beginning of each chapter, when they reached a new place, there was a little bit of information about where they were. Admittedly I always skimmed over it as I wanted to get on with the story, but I still thought it was a nice addition to the book. There were other cool additions too, such as the ‘Hot Wings Rap’ and different pie charts humorously divided up, like ‘What the hell am I doing with my Saturday night?’ and ‘The state of me’. All of this meant that, on the whole, it was a pretty fun book to read.
However, I do have to say that I found the protagonist, Sunny, very annoying. This was mainly because she spent the whole evening trying to track down her boyfriend, at first because she wanted to hear his side of the story, but once she’d established beyond doubt that he was a cheater, it was to give him a piece of her mind. Personally, I thought that this was a complete waste of an evening – she was travelling all over London with her friends, but couldn’t enjoy it as much as she could’ve otherwise because she was focusing on her boyfriend. I understand that part of her character meant she wanted to talk to him, as she was meant to be on the passive side, but it could have waited till the next morning, at least. What I did like about her, though, was her character development across the book, going from passive to more outspoken, and unafraid to give people a piece of her mind. It was a bit extreme for one night, and a tad cliché, but very satisfying at the end when she finally found Mark.
I also wanted to say a big yay for the ending. Even though I found it annoying how fixated Sunny was on getting to see Mark, once she did it was a truly wonderful moment. What she said to him was great and very kickass! I liked the shift in focus at the end towards thinking about friendships, as well, and I liked that there was some diversity in the book – for example, Sunny is mixed race and Emmeline is gay. What I liked best about the diversity was that it was made very clear, and in some instances actually discussed (it wasn’t just dropped in once and not mentioned again), so you could really appreciate that it was a diverse book.
Overall, there were aspects of this book that I liked, and it was an entertaining story, but for me there were too many elements that I found a bit annoying or cliché for me to truly enjoy it. However, I will say that it was a fun read, and perfect for summer!