Thursday 5 October 2017

Release Day Review!!! - Mirror Mirror by Cara Delevingne and Rowan Coleman

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Title: Mirror Mirror

Author: Cara Delevingne and Rowan Coleman

Genre: Young Adult/New Adult (YA with crossover appeal,) contemporary, crime*, LGBTQ+(and gender questioning)(F/F)


Release Date: 5th October

Amazon: UK - USA

A few starting notes:

I received a free digital review copy of this book via NetGalley. NetGalley provides review copies from publishers in exchange for fair and honest reviews.

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I'm a Cara Delevingne fan - I mean, she's a super-talented model, actress, and now writer?!

Add in that she's around about the same age as me, and a sexually fluid woman like me... she's kind of my hero, ok?!

So when I was approved to review this book I was sooo happy! But don't think I'm gonna go easy on it - y'know I'm able to fangirl and be plenty critical at the same time 😉😎

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There's an absolute tonne of diverse rep in this book, so if anyone's talked about that - either positively or negatively - in their reviews, let me know and I'll link you!

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Also, this book has A LOT of sh** going on - so pay special attention to the warning list in the 'not so great bits' section, ok? Ok.

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Oh, and I'm going to talk about gender and sexual orientation which is revealed in the text.

I don't consider these spoilers because marginalised identities aren't spoilers, so consider this your warning.


Rose, Leo, Red, and Naomi were what you may call 'troubled teens.'

But that was before they found the band, and found each other. Things are better now.

Until Naomi goes missing.

With Nai gone, the strain starts to show... and it only gets worse when she's found.

What happened to her? Where was she during those weeks? Is it possible she did this to herself?

And, with everyone struggling with their own sh**, how are they going to find out?

Best bits:

OMG this book is the sh**!!!!

Uber-readable, complex characters, diversity everywhere!!!

The writing is fab - it's just good, and also manages to sound casual and not stilted, which in turn keeps the story flowing.

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And it's soooo obvious that Delevingne & Coleman know what they're talking about when it comes to social media.

The way this book uses social media both as plot point and within the text is on-point.

These are modern teens - and their use of different social networks and apps for different things totally reflects that.

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Our main character is Red - who I love.

Red just wants to be Red, while at the same time trying to fix everyone else's problems (me? relate to the thing? *laughs awkwardly*).

Red is also a gender-questioning lesbian.

I liked the way this was dealt with for the most part, but I also had a serious issue with one part of it (see 'not so great bits' section.)

I like that her (she uses she/her,) gender is never fully defined

Red tends towards masculine presentation, and feels quite like a boy, but also feels kind of like a girl, and likes to be referred to as she.

She doesn't see why this is a problem to the rest of the world - because Red is Red. Why should anything else matter?

We also get the tension this causes between Red and her mother, and the way other people treat her - which ranges from totally accepting to totally antagonistic.

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We also get glimpses into the back-stories of the characters - but only glimpses.

It's enough to have a bearing on their present actions, but not enough to dominate the action.

That's great - the characters' experiences have all shaped who they are, but they don't define who they are... and that's a difficult line to tread! I'm actually really impressed.

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The focus on friendship - and how the band's friendship is their lifeline - also totally rocks.

Not so great bits:

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Distressing content in this book includes:

- missing people (teen)

- suicide/attempted suicide

- child (teen) rape and sexual assault

- paedophilia/paedophile ring

- child (teen) grooming

- murder/attempted murder

- alcoholism

- drug dealing/taking/addiction

- transphobia

- homophobia

- transphobic/homophobic slurs (dyke, pervert, 'it')

- physical child (teen) abuse

- emotional child (teen) abuse

- child and teen neglect

- parental rejection

- trolling/bullying

- malicious accusations of sexual assault against LGBTQ+ person

- anorexia/eating disorders

- depression

- references to self-harm
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- parental marriage problems

- gun violence

- gang activity

- family members in prison

...phew! I think that's everything!

Honestly, this book is full of heavy sh** from start to finish.

But Delevingne & Coleman do a great job in not letting it feel overly-heavy. (Thank God.)

But PLEASE be careful - there is a LOT going on here. If you gotta stop, you gotta stop. Self-care comes first.

There's a butt-load of swearing, references to the sexy-times, underage drinking, and recreational drug use. (All of which are BAD because I am a responsible adult™.*)

Oh, and don't follow the examples of any of the people in this book - bad decisions everywhere! #Don'tDoTheThings!

*stop laughing!

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My problem with the way Red's gender/sexuality is handled

Red is not given any pronouns for about half the novel.

We are generally led to believe she is a cisgender, straight, boy, through her being referred to as 'mate' and general gender coding.

(I have to admit that I thought she was a girl for the first chapter or two, but the way other characters treat her and the way she is spoken about convinced me otherwise.)

Now, in some ways this perhaps can be put down to the cis-normative, heteronormative expectations of the readers.

But this book plays into those expectations.

This leads to a gender-identity-reveal scenario which is played a little too much like a shock plot-twist for my liking.

I don't think there was ANY reason why Red's identities couldn't have been known from the beginning - and this particular scene was a big disappointment for me.

It just wasn't needed, Red's identity could've been explored casually just as easily, and the shock element makes it feel cheap and exploitative.

It's even more annoying given how well Delevingne & Coleman handle the rest of Red's representation. YOU WERE SO CLOSE AND YOU SPOILT IT DAMMIT!!!

UPDATE 24TH JUNE 2020 - In the years since I wrote this review, Cara Delevingne has stated that she is Gender-Fluid, as well as Sexually Fluid/Pansexual, and while I still do not condone shock gender-ID-reveals, I understand that Own-Voices authors are reflecting lived experience I do not have, and this is a valid narrative.


Yes, there is a problem with this book. A BIG problem. I'm not denying that. It really pi**ed me the hell off.

But this book is also fantastic. (I know, I know, that sounds contradictory, but both statements are true, and I swore I'd never lie to you, my nerdlets.)

I loved it, I related to it, and I wish I hadn't finished it just so that I had more of it left to read.

This book is the sh**.

It's FAR from perfect, and I've given you the info. you need to decide whether it's for you, or whether you don't feel you can get behind something that falls into such an offensive trope.

As far as I'm concerned though? It's worth the read. Because it's fantastic.

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  1. Wow I didn’t even know Cara was releasing a book, nor the fact that she could even write! I’ll have to check this out :)

  2. This is the first time I've heard about one of her books I think! But I am glad you were able to love it just as much as you wanted to, and that there is so much good representation included!

    1. This is her debut :) And yeah - she stumbled on that one point, but overall it was awesome!

  3. This is her debut - and yes, she's a very talented woman! :)

  4. I heard about this on the radio (because I'm an old lady and listen to radio)! I like Cara Delevingne but I was dubious because when celebrities write, it;s often rubbish. This actually sounds right up my street, I think I'll get this and give it a go!
    Thanks for linking up with #RVHT

    1. I absolutely loved it! It probably helps that she co-wrote rather than charging ahead on her own (or getting a ghost-writer and then not giving them credit, like some celebs do!)

      No problem :)


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