Solitaire by Alice Oseman – Book Review

Title: Solitaire

Series: Solitaire #1

Author: Alice Oseman

Genre/Themes/Content Warnings: Contemporary Young Adult, Mental Health, Disordered Eating, Self Harm, Suicidal Ideation

Blurb from Goodreads

In case you’re wondering, this is not a love story.

My name is Tori Spring. I like to sleep and I like to blog. Last year – before all that stuff with Charlie and before I had to face the harsh realities of A-Levels and university applications and the fact that one day I really will have to start talking to people – I had friends. Things were very different, I guess, but that’s all over now.

Now there’s Solitaire. And Michael Holden.

I don’t know what Solitaire are trying to do, and I don’t care about Michael Holden.

I really don’t.

My Review

Lol no.

This book has such inflated notions of itself but the execution is abysmal.

The MC Tori is supposed to be this sad and chronically depressed person that as a reader we are supposed to empathise with… But instead she’s just a judgmental jerk! Honestly there’s a difference between writing legitimate anxiety and depression versus general teenage malaise at life…

And sadly this book got both things wrong. *smh Solitaire*

Look I get what the aims were, but Oseman did not craft her MC well enough to actually truly convey the nuance of depression and of being introverted. The idea was great… Execution poor.

And for the tag line to say this is not a love story… ONLY FOR IT TO BE A LOVE STORY!!!

I cry laughing.

Like get over yourself already book. There’s nothing wrong with writing about love. Stop trying to shame the greatest of human emotions.

I’ve just discovered that Solitaire was written by Alice Oseman when she was a young teenager and it makes perfect sense. Because this feels so juvenile which is both sad and annoying because think of freaking Frankenstein written by an adolescent Mary Shelley and how deliciously layered that book is.

This immature drivel-fest just reinforces negative teenage stereotypes and my inner fifteen year old is not happy with that.


Anyway there’s so much in this that irked me…

The unexplained hostility for Tori’s parents for one. Omg there’s this scene where Tori basically concludes that her mother loathes Tori with every fibre of her being because…

Wait for it…


I mean right??? Terrible mothering definitely… Like social services need to get on that for sure…..

OMG TORI YOU ARE 17 YEARS OLD SO YOU CAN IRON YOUR OWN GOD DAMNED CLOTHES YOU USELESS ENTITLED MUPPET!!! I mean your poor mother has enough to be dealing with that she can’t suddenly just drop everything to iron your school skirt.

Gosh there were so many eye roll moments in this.

Wtf was that handling of her brother’s eating disorder and self harming storyline??? First up this book needs MASSIVE content and trigger warnings for both. Plus suicidal ideation. When will books come with content warnings as standard?????

But yes, the actual handling of all these topics was so sub-par. It felt quite sensationalist to me rather than carefully exploring these mental health issues.

This book was just too chock full of bland characters with *problems*. If perhaps Oseman had picked one of these mental health issues and properly researched and explained it then this book could very much have been a truly interesting exploration into teenage depression.

Also lol at the book trying to compare itself to The Catcher in the Rye in the closing stages… Solitaire freaking wishes it had the quality of prose, the delicate pacing of the narrative and the true authentic nature of Holden from Catcher.

I really didn’t like this book at all.

  • The prose felt awkward.
  • The characters barely more than pastiches.
  • The mysterious identity of Solitaire laughably obvious.
  • And the climax just plain ridiculous.

I borrowed this from the library but I own both Radio Silence and I Was Born For This that are also written by Alice Oseman.

In addition I currently have the first volume of Heartstopper also out on library loan… I pray that her writing has improved or else I’ve made massive errors in thinking that she’s a writer I could get on board with.

One star

Other Works by Alice Oseman I’ve Reviewed

My Socials

29 thoughts on “Solitaire by Alice Oseman – Book Review

  1. Thank u!
    I really despised Tori, but everyone else seems to love her. The ironing incident? LITERALLY MY THOUGHTS


  2. I read Radio Silence and I Was Born For This first and loved them then I went on to read Solitaire and DNFed it, I agree with a lot of the things you mentioned. I do think her other books are a lot better and I would recommend reading them.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. LMAO the minute I read your “Lol no” I knew this review was going to drive me to tears with laughter and I wasn’t wrong!!! 🤣🤣🤣Hahahaha I’m so glad you let rip on this review Emer because wow, this character sounds really really awful! I HATE entitled useless tossers and ones who whinge about things like what you just described here and blow it out of completely proportion? Aw, poor little nugget your mum won’t iron your bloody clothes she really must hate you. EYES ROLL SO HARD. I haven’t read anything by Oseman but I really want to read her Heartstopper graphic novels as I’ve heard amazing things about those. Haven’t heard much about her novels though, but perhaps this is a clear indicator of why… 🙃🙃🙃

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You know I thought I didn’t even rant too much about this book…. Clearly I have some odd idea of what ranting really means 😂😂😂 I do think this is meant to be the weakest of her novels so I’m gonna give her the benefit of the doubt and read another one at least. Fingers crossed it won’t make me wanna slap someone like this one did 😂😂😂😂


  4. This is definitely not a book for me! I despise stories that try to include mental illness but don’t do it very well. There are so many people with first-hand experiences who would be willing to help an author understand the nuances of their illness so they can write an authentic rep but sadly this doesn’t happen often enough. I adored Heartstopper for its simplicity and sweet-as-pie story-line but I don’t think I’ll read any of her other books apart from Heartstopper vol 2. They sound quite immature. Sorry you had such a bad experience with this Emer!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Well this was written when she was very much a newbie author and I’ve heard that it’s her weakest. So I’m gonna try another of her novels for sure. I think the book just shows a lot of immaturity about how to handle difficult topics. It simply lacked gravitas and research. So hopefully with a few more years writing experience under her belt she has grown as an author. :))))

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I burst out laughing at the first line of your review and then just got incredibly angry as you got deeper into it wtf how dare they not even provide trigger warnings especially for content as strong as eating disorders and suicide??? and her being so mean to her own brother??? jesus christ. i’m sorry you suffered through this one this definitely does not sound like the book for me either. wonderful review.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I really wish that books came with content warnings as standard. I think the problem with this novel was inexperience though. You could tell that the writer felt passionately about the issues but just didn’t have the appropriate research to truly write authentically. I’ve heard that her later novels are vast improvements though so I think I will give her another shot :)))


  6. This would definitely not be a book for me. As someone who has had multiple eating disorders and struggles with one still, I dislike books that don’t talk about it properly. Great review as always, Emer!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. The only one I’ve read is Radio Silence, which also has the “this is not a love story” line in the summary. That one actually is not a love story, so don’t let that put you off. I liked that book, and I think the writing sounds much better than what you described here.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m definitely going to read more by her because even though there was so much in this book that I didn’t like I can still see her potential as a writer and am hoping that with a little more writing experience under her belt that she ironed out a lot of her ineffectual writing habits. Thanks Elysa!! :)))


  8. I didn’t enjoy Solitaire as much as I was hoping to, I have heard that her 2nd & 3rd books are better. Heartstopper is in a totally different league, I adore it so much.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Yes. That opening LINE.
    Why do books insist that they are not love stories WHEN THEY ARE???
    Also, why do authors believe publishing their teen fiction is a good idea??
    This is a great take-down. I…kind of want to read this to see the badness for myself.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh see this is why we are friends. You read a ranty review and you wanna read the book too. More than if someone fangirls I AM SO LIKE THAT!!! I swear bad books are like junk food to me. Know they’re not technically good for me but wow do I love them so much 😂😂😂😂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. YEEEEEEES. WHY ARE BAD BOOKS SO GOOD?? It depends on the book, but sometimes there’s nothing more comforting!! I need more!! Also, I feel like I bond more with friends over bad books than over good books. 😛

        Liked by 1 person

          1. I would love to see book characters save the day with shared hatred. “It’s the most powerful force there is.”
            AAAAAH I just thought about Harry Potter if Harry had been filled with burning hatred instead of love! (I kind of love it.)

            Liked by 1 person

  10. I borrowed the first two volumes of Heartstopper without realising they followed on from this novel and toyed with the idea of going back to this…but thank god I didn’t! I did enjoy Heartstopper though so hopefully you have more luck with that one 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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