The Avery Shaw Experiment
When Avery Shaw’s heart is shattered by her life-long best friend, she chooses to deal with it the only way she knows how—scientifically.
The state science fair is coming up and Avery decides to use her broken heart as the topic of her experiment. She’s going to find the cure. By forcing herself to experience the seven stages of grief through a series of social tests, she believes she will be able to get over Aiden Kennedy and make herself ready to love again. But she can’t do this experiment alone, and her partner (ex partner!) is the one who broke her heart.
Avery finds the solution to her troubles in the form of Aiden’s older brother Grayson. The gorgeous womanizer is about to be kicked off the school basketball team for failing physics. He’s in need of a good tutor and some serious extra credit. But when Avery recruits the lovable Grayson to be her “objective outside observer,” she gets a whole lot more than she bargained for, because Grayson has a theory of his own: Avery doesn’t need to grieve. She needs to live. And if there’s one thing Grayson Kennedy is good at, it’s living life to the fullest.
The Libby Garrett Intervention
Libby Garrett is addicted to Owen Jackson’s hot lovin’. But the sexy, popular college basketball player doesn’t appreciate all of Libby’s awesomeness. He refuses to be exclusive or even admit to people that they’re dating. The relationship is ruining Libby and she’s the only one who can’t see it.
When Libby’s behavior spirals completely out of control, her best friend Avery Shaw and the rest of the Science Squad stage an intervention hoping to cure Libby of her harmful Owen addiction. They put her through her very own Twelve Step program–Owen’s Anonymous–and recruit the help of a sexy, broody, hard as nails coffee man to be her official sponsor.
Adam Koepp has watched Libby Garrett for years. How could he not notice the sassy girl with the purple skateboard and helmet plastered with cat stickers? But in all the years he’s crushed on her, Libby has failed to take notice of him. Why would she when he was just a nobody high school drop out who served her apple cider several times a week? Especially when she was hooking up with a guy like Owen Jackson–a guy with a college scholarship and more abs than Kyle Hamilton.
Adam finally gets the chance to meet Libby when his co-worker Avery Shaw recruits him to take Libby on the journey of a lifetime. With his ability to play Bad Cop and his experience with the Twelve Step program he’s the perfect candidate to be Libby’s sponsor. But will he be able to keep his personal feelings out of the matter and really help her the way she needs? And will Libby hate him when he forces her to take an honest look at herself?
I had never read a Kelly Orum book prior to this series, which was recommended to me by a very good friend, but I had heard of her before. Interestingly enough, another Orum book had been rec’d to me but I decided not to read it. I now regret that decision because she is a lovely writer and this series was extremely cute. I probably can review these two books separately but I feel like it’d be better to review the series as a whole, since the things I liked about both books were relatively similar. I definitely had certain expectations when going into both books and honestly I feel like they took me in directions I never thought they would and actually have more depth to them than I anticipated. True, it’s still YA and there were some areas or scenes where that definitely showed, but overall they’re not only satisfying reads but unbelievably cute reads.
Since this is an overall series review I might have to spoil some things, so a SPOILER ALERT is in effect. Just in case.
- I think the one thing I loved about this series as a whole was how even though there was a sense of juvenility, Oram tackled and handled some very serious topics that I’ve seen covered in the more mature genres. A lot of her focus was on the idea of unhealthy relationships, whether it be a codependent one or abusive one, and I have a lot of respect for how she handled it. The codependency was probably more understated than the abusive one but I think it’s because Avery Shaw felt relatively young in its overall writing. But I like how near the end of the book, when it came time to address the topic, it was explored and explained nicely. And I feel like it was something Avery realized on her own rather than having Grayson be the one to outright tell her and I like how just being involved with him showed her how wrong her relationship with Aiden is. The other relationship issue was more “in your face” and obvious because the entire point of Libby Garrett was to get her out of that abusive relationship. I feel like physically abusive relationships are done a lot but when it comes to emotionally abusive relationships, that’s something that is almost never seen or thought of. Even when Adam brought up the idea of Libby being in an abusive relationship, she bristled because she didn’t believe she was in one, but when he brought up how it was an emotionally abusive relationship, she stopped to think. I like how this was brought up to someone who’s a 17 year old character because with someone so young, they rarely see the signs that they’re being emotionally abused nor do they know how to get out of that situation. I like how Oram is using this series and her platform to write her books around these issues and bringing this tough topic to her younger audience. It really makes me respect her as both an author and a person.
- I LOVED that Grayson was the first to develop a crush on Avery because seeing the guy fall first isn’t just uncommon in YA but it’s borderline nonexistent. I didn’t know how tired I was of seeing the girl fall first until I read Avery Shaw and I am so, so thankful that Oram wrote her male protagonist this way. I can’t say the same with Adam (who I’ll get to in a little bit) but Grayson was honestly such a doll and a true delight. I liked how he immediately helped Avery just because he wanted to and he wanted to see her happy. There was no ulterior motive for him and he was just a sweetie. Another giant highlight was how he understood Avery’s anxiety and once he realized how her being with him really helped her control that, he made even more of an effort and I appreciated how her anxiety was handled overall, but I feel like the importance of having someone like Grayson be there for her was really important. Overall I liked how Oram was making this jock character softer and give him a much needed vulnerability that I want to see in more YA male characters. I wish more boys were like Grayson Kennedy.
- Out of all of the characters, I’d say that Libby had the best character development and I love where Oram took her. I liked that it wasn’t so much as changing her completely but it was more of just getting her back to the person she used to be before she got into this relationship with Owen. And one thing everyone kept saying was that they didn’t want Libby to change into someone new but they ultimately wanted her to change her behaviour and I thought that was pretty interesting. I like how there was a lot of focus on the fact that the changes she went through while she was in that relationship stemmed from the fact that Owen was emotionally abusing her and that was what her friends were trying to show her and make her understand. I also respect all of her friends for participating in that intervention and showing her how much they care and how much they want their friend back. And I feel like it was important for Libby to make all those mistakes again with Owen so she could see how bad that relationship was and how the only way she would change was if it was something she acknowledged and accepted. I loved the journey she went on and I think it was highlighted and explored quite nicely.
- There were a lot of times throughout both books where I felt like the writing was pretty juvenile and I could tell that it was meant for an audience younger than 18, which is not something I typically find in YA but I did here. And there were a lot of times in Avery Shaw where I felt this and there were moments where it felt even younger and innocent than To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before, which I think I noted how young that felt sometimes. That’s not a good thing. On one hand, I can appreciate how Oram isn’t making her characters overly mature or older than the average 17 year old is, but on the other, it’s tiring for someone like me. It makes for a quick read but there’s little to no substance with the overall writing. It got better with Libby Garrett, but not the best.
- I liked Adam to some degree but when comparing him to Grayson, he wasn’t particularly the best. I liked how he wanted to help Libby and commend him for his crush on her, and I love how he constantly complimented her and picked her up when she put herself down, but I don’t like how he spoke to her sometimes. I mean, he slut-shamed her in their first actual conversation. That’s not ok. I get he’s honest to a fault but there were just times where I couldn’t be ok with the way he spoke to Libby. I do think he was good for her but I wish he was more like Grayson, I guess.
- Aiden was annoying but I think that was the point.
THE BOTTOM LINE
- Even though the series can lack maturity here and there, it ends up being a very sweet read with some surprisingly important issues being addressed underneath it all. Not only do these books showcase great relationships but they also give representation to STEM girls, which the world definitely needs more of. I am definitely picking up more Kelly Oram books in the future.
BONUS: how this book made me feel in a GIF
ABOUT THE BOOK
Title: Science Squad (The Avery Shaw Experiment, The Libby Garrett Intervention)
Author: Kelly Oram
Release Date: May 4, 2013 | October 25, 2015
Pages: 303 | 352 (eBook)
Until next time,
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