Release Date: December 2nd 2010
Publisher: Random House Canada
Buy It: Book Depository
If someone hurts your sister and you're any kind of man, you seek revenge. If your brother's accused of a terrible crime but says he didn't do it, you defend him. When Mikey's sister claims a boy assaulted her, his world begins to fall apart. When Ellie's brother is charged with the offense, her world begins to unravel. When Mikey and Ellie meet, two worlds collide.I found the setting and language of You Against Me really interesting and unique, even if I didn't totally connect with them. It takes place in England, but not in the transplanted American way that many YA books do, but instead filled with authentic slang and settings that were neat to read about. You Against Me also tackles some important and interesting issues, and it's compelling that way, but for me it was more of an intellectual interest than an emotional one. Mikey, despite the terrible nickname, is an incredibly strong and powerful main character, and I enjoyed his storyline more than Ellie's. I really felt like he underwent some genuine growth throughout the novel, and it's rare to read a story where a character's evolution is so dramatic, and yet still realistic.
I think where the disconnect came in, was Mikey's relationship with Ellie, and it was hard for me to believe they would suddenly connect so strongly and not really care about the consequences. I think the major problem was I didn't quite feel the spark between them. Mikey was a charming character, and Ellie was clearly conflicted but strong– though honestly a lot less interesting than Mikey– but together they didn't quite have the magic I was hoping for, the kind that would really make me believe in what followed.
What I loved a lot about You Against Me, is that like Exposed by Kimberly Marcus, it's a book about a horrible crime, but it's not about the people it happened to. This isn't the story of Mikey's sister, or Ellie's brother– it's the story of Mikey and Ellie. It is so easy to just focus on the victim or the criminal, but novels like these remind us that it's not so simple. That crimes, and actions, have far-reaching consequences, and those consequences can change lives. You Against Me is a book with a powerful message, and even if I wasn't interested in the star-crossed lovers storyline, I still think Downham tells an important story with eloquence and strength.