Review: Top Ten Clues You’re Clueless by Liz Czukas

January 2, 2015 Reviews 0 ★★★

Review: Top Ten Clues You’re Clueless by Liz CzukasTop Ten Clues You're Clueless by Liz Czukas
Published by HarperTeen on December 9, 2014
Genres: Comedy, YA, YA Contemporary
Pages: 304
Format: eARC
Source: eARC via Edelweiss
Top Five Things That Are Ruining Chloe’s Day

5) Working the 6:30 a.m. shift at GoodFoods Market

4) Crashing a cart into a customer’s car right in front of her snarky coworker Sammi

3) Trying to rock the “drowned rat” look after being caught in a snowstorm

2) Making zero progress with her crush, Tyson (see #3)

1) Being accused—along with her fellow teenage employees—of stealing upwards of $10,000

Chloe would rather be anywhere than locked in work jail (aka the break room) with five of her coworkers . . . even if one of them is Tyson. But if they can band together to clear their names, what looks like a total disaster might just make Chloe’s list of Top Ten Best Moments.

After being a massive black sheep about Liz Czuka’s debut novel Ask Again Later, I needed Top Ten Clues You’re Clueless to wow me. I NEEDED it. C’mon, it sounded so cute and fun and I want good fluff every now and then too. Well, I was disappointed again but not to Ask Again Later levels. Czukas’ sophomore novel will wow fans of The Breakfast Club and general cuteness but may not find a broader audience beyond that.

Our narrator Chloe is a diabetes-stricken dork who’s hard not to love. The poor girl freaks out when her shopping carts hit someone’s car and that’s just the start of her funny freak-outs and poor decisions. Other poor choices include trying to pretend she has no idea the money is missing when she saw the opening of the store chest and knew there was supposed to be more money in it than there was. All at once, she’s endearing in her awkwardness and frustrating; the frustrating comes in when she’s shaming people like men in bras because I guess she doesn’t understand the fluidity of gender or the idea that people don’t always fit gender norms. With so many Gender Studies courses in recent memory, that quick moment of bigotry is especially annoying.

Other than the novel feeling like The Breakfast Club: Grocery Store Edition (that in itself is not for me because I never cared for the movie), one ridiculous little detail niggled at me from one of Chloe’s many, many lists. It bothered me so much I put off writing this review until I could get to a bookstore and confirm this quote appears exactly the same in both the finished copy and the eARC:

On July 4, 1776, King George VI of England writes in his diary, Nothing important happened today. (p. 113)

For one, that’s supposed to be King George III, not King George VI. The latter ruled in the 1900s and thus couldn’t have written that in a journal in the late 1700s. For another thing, that’s a 100% untrue historical myth. I may be an English and Gender Studies girl at heart, but history is dear to me too and historical myths get my goat like little else. For instance, anyone who brings up the bra-burnings at the 1968 Miss America pageant gets one hell of a lecture about how NO bras were burned during that protest and they were instead thrown symbolically into trash cans. The media spun it as bra-burnings for the sake of getting something that rolls off the tongue after one reporter drew a parallel between their protests and how Vietnam protestors burned their draft cards.

aka yes, I got distracted by the details again because one little thing can throw me out of a story very quickly. Don’t promote historical myths, yo. Maybe it’s meant to characterize Chloe as not very bright, but surely there’s another way to do that.

BUT THE BOOK. This novel isn’t very long at all, but it feels long because all these teens do is sit around and talk about stuff and fail at figuring out who stole all the money. Their characters aren’t strong enough to carry a book like that even with their shenanigans. That the novel’s focus is on friendship above all else is amazing, but it needs to be stronger to really make this novel great. The identity of the thief is kinda thrown in at the end just to answer the big question. On the bright side, the diversity of this motley crew of grocery store workers (Chloe’s love interest is black and quiet, beautiful Zaina is Lebanese) is lovely, especially considering I don’t remember Czukas’ debut having that kind of racial diversity.

It turns out I’m the black sheep yet again (grrrr), but not as badly as I was with Ask Again Later. There are so many readers who have already enjoyed Top Ten Clues You’re Clueless and countless others who will enjoy it if they pick it up, so don’t worry about me. As long as you like The Breakfast Club and slow books, you’re good to go with this one. If only it had worked out for me.

The Skinny:

  • Pretty freakin’ cute
  • That’s a historical myth and you don’t even have the right king oh my God
  • Totally for people who loved The Breakfast Club
  • Very long for such a short book
  • No one actually tries to find out who stole the money
  • Okay but not great
  • aka I’m the black sheep again baaaaaaa
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