Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Joel and Cat Set the Story Straight - Nick Earls and Rebecca Sparrow

Joel and Cat Set the Story Straight is two weeks in the life of Joel Hedges and Cat Davis. 

Everyone knows that Joel and Cat hate each other. Then they end up partners in a writing assignment. By the second paragraph they’re in the thick of an all-out tandem story war.

Then Cat’s dad and Joel’s mum start dating, and they can finally agree on something – it’s got to stop. But will sparks fly between Joel and Cat for all the right reasons as they go about setting a few things straight? 

What ensues reveals a lot about how smug teenage boys are and what teenage girls really think. No, wait – it's about a sane female and an insane male. It's about revenge and mistaken identity. (synopsis from jacket cover and goodreads)

I spent one lazily delicious afternoon grinning my way through this.

And then. 

About half way through, everything kicked up a notch and I couldn't put it down. The build up to the climax was perfectly done, raising the stakes and the level of hilarity.

It was a completely fun book that felt like high school and had me grinning stupidly and occasionally snorting. One of the scenes (where Joel "takes one for the team") had me laughing so much my tummy started to hurt - how do they think up that stuff? Even thinking about the book right now, I have a ridiculous smile on my face - it genuinely cracked me up.

I also loved the spoofy Jane Austin and Matthew Reilly style writing that Joel and Cat wrote to each other, for an assignment, in the story (they emailed a paragraph per chapter, and used it to vent - killing/torturing each others characters, etc). So cleverly done. Classic!

It felt like Nick and Rebecca had a blast writing this and the chapters flowed so smoothly - one of the best collaborative efforts I've come across.

My only criticism is: at the beginning the build-up of some of the subplots dragged a little and I would have preferred to see more of Joel and Cat antagonising each other (in those initial chapters) as they had the whole sharp, eloquent insult thing down pat in the most entertaining of ways.

Praise for Joel & Cat Set The Story Straight
  • "Nick and Rebecca are a match made in heaven." The Age
  • "One of the funniest and most memorable reads of the year (2007) in YA fiction" Sydney Morning Herald.
I choose this book from Penguin's site - after winning a comp where the prize was $100 to spend (!) Whoo Hoo! If you're an Aussie you should definitely keep an eye out @ your library/book shops for this. Such a fun feisty funny read. Loved it, my mateys. How cool is the premise too? And I <3 Joel.

Cool interview about the book with Nick Earls and Rebecca Sparrow


  1. What a cool prize and the book sounds real good. I'm wondering though is it YA or MG? Kind of sounds like MG from your description, but then you said high school. *scratches head wondering*

  2. It's YA - Joel and Cat are in high school, but it feels like high school :) not like some other upper YA titles where the characters in in high school but super mature, if you get what I mean :)

    And, I know - $100 was awesome. Was hard to narrow it down to which books I wanted though...

  3. Great review! I just wanted to let you know that I thought The Raging Quiet was awesome, and I'll definitely be looking at reading more Sherryl Jordan. Which are did you say your favourite of hers was?

  4. Congrats on the Pneguin win Nomes!

    Great minds must think alike, because I just picked this up from the library yesterday! Am now super keen to start it after your review :)

  5. thanks girl friday :) i hope you love this book. so so good - yay for your library having it!

    Rach, my faves by the awesome Sherryl jordan are: the juniper game, rocco, tanith, the secret sacrament and winter of fire.

    she's hard to get a hold of though as stacks of her books are out of print...

  6. This sounds hilarious! On my wish list right away, and I've been really curious about reading more collabs.

    That is an AWESOME contest win, wow! Wonderful review, as always. :D

  7. You keep finding these fun reads. I need one now, and this sounds prefect. Thanks

  8. Ooooh I'm glad you liked this. I read it a couple of years back when it was first released and I really enjoyed it. Very funny and as you said, it's high school kids, not high school kids that act like they are in their late 20's. :D

  9. i hope some of you guys can get a hold of it - it's really good - but hard to track down (especially overseas, i would think)

    And, jess, I know. it really does feel like high school, the real high school, not literary high school:)

  10. I loved this book - one of the best dual author books I've read.
    And I love the ending- hilarious and so sweet!

    I'm glad you got to read this! And the review is fantastic!


  11. I know Tina! It was such a fun read. I cant wait to read it again when its not so fresh in my mind.

    Fingers crossed they'll do another collaborative effort!


  12. Thanks Naomi and everyone for all of this. It was really good to see it.

    Despite my partner Sarah's prediction, Bec and I remain friends after duelling our way through this novel. I've never heard so many excuses for not making deadlines, though they were so convincingly delivered I fell for most of them (Bec, I believe, would back me up on both those claims). It was always great, though, when the next chapter did come through, both for the privilege of being its first reader and to see what kind of curve ball I'd been thrown this time. It was quite an experience, and well worth having.

    It's always good to hear that the end result has worked when people read it.

    Thanks again.


Thanks for the commenty love :)