Night Owls by Jenn Bennett, published August 2015 by Simon & Schuster UK (AKA The Anatomical Shape of a Heart).
Read: September 2015
Genre: Young Adult/Contemporary/Romance
Get It Now: Wordery
Goodreads Synopsis: Feeling alive is always worth the risk. Meeting Jack on the Owl – San Francisco’s night bus – turns Beatrix’s world upside down. Jack is charming, wildly attractive… and possibly one of San Francisco’s most notorious graffiti artists. But Jack is hiding a piece of himself. On midnight rides and city rooftops, Beatrix begins to see who this enigmatic boy really is.
I picked up this read based on the beautiful cover (yes, sometimes I am that shallow), and subsequently discovered that Bennett writes urban fantasy fiction for adults, with this being her debut YA novel. I don’t think I’ve read a lot of authors who do genre cross-overs to this extent, so I was curious how she would tackle a teen contemporary. The overall outcome? Very successfully.
Jack and Bex are reasonably complex teen characters – Jack is from a privileged background and has some family issues going on (mental health related), he’s also an anonymous graffiti artist (in a loveable rogue kind of way). Bex comes from a single parent household, has an out gay brother, and wants to be a medical artist (which is a pretty unusual career choice). For a story that centres on two teen characters and their immediate families, there’s quite a lot going on, which is reflective of real life, but often difficult to translate in a standalone contemporary – Bennett achieves this and then some. On top of all this, parents play an active role in the storyline, which is refreshing as parents are so often absent in contemporary YA, and the story is sex-positive. This in itself was such a winner for me, because realistic portrayals of teen sex scenarios, teen sex conversations, and the reality of teenage hormones and lust are so often avoided, given unnecessary euphemisms, or played down in order to be “safe”.
Bex as a character took me a while to warm to, wheras Jack was incredibly swoony, sweet and broody from the get-go, which just made it easier to connect with him. However, he is described as being ridiculously good looking, which is fine if it’s from Bex’s point-of-view and she happens to think he’s incredibly hot, I’m just getting a little tired reading about all of these amazingly-good-looking-and-they-don’t-realise-how-perfect/hot/charming/toned they are characters. Looking back, very few teenagers can claim those attributes, let alone the rest of the normal and average population as adults! Give me “normal” people, someone!
Overall, this book gave me a big smack in the feels, and was just the right amount of cute and fluffy for a contemporary YA read, while providing a bit more depth and sexy times to entertain an older reader. Just writing this review is really making me want to reread this book… Highly recommended, and I’d be interested in trying out Bennett’s adult urban fantasy series too!
Have you read Night Owls? Or any other books by Jenn Bennett? Let me know in the comments!