'The best books, reviewed with insight and charm, but without compromise.'
- author Jackie French

Thursday 15 December 2022

Review: Unnecessary Drama

With its symmetrically appealing, colour matched cover and excellent title, I was actually a little bit in love with this book before I opened it. And after? Well, I was delightfully hooked.

Nina Kenwood is a YA author with street cred; her first and much-loved novel It Sounded Better In My Head won the Text prize, and now she’s quite possibly a contender for any number of others.

Upon moving into a run-down student share house in Melbourne, our flawed, confounding and endearing protagonist Brooke - who’s quite partial to writing a list, carving an ornate fruit platter and remembering everyone’s birthday – discovers that there are just three simple house rules here. No pets, no household relationships and no unnecessary drama. 

None of these quite cut it as far as she’s concerned (a spreadsheet would have been better), but a girl can’t have everything.

As it happens, Brooke is obviously on a crash-course to breaking at least one of these rules as we see from the opening sentence where a pet (of sorts) is introduced:

There’s a mouse in the corner of my room.

The action quickly hots up, with Brooke realising that one of her new housemates is actually an old enemy – a guy she really liked when she was fourteen but who did the dirty on her, and who she hasn’t spoken to since. What follows is a slow-burn rom-com of quite epic proportions, that takes us deeply into Brooke’s neuroses, past relationships and wonderfully entertaining family dynamic. The narrative offers up an interior world which is beautifully drawn in its complexity – along with some extremely funny interactions.

I loved almost every character in this book, and none more than our Brooke who’s angsty and obsessive but mostly just hilarious. She is an absolutely relevant and current teen superhero. Funny, smart, warm and a non-drinker who wants to do well at uni.

Travelling these first months of leaving home with Brooke is a joyous experience. Who knew that transitioning from high school to uni and share-housing could provide such an authentically delicious, chaotic and optimistic narrative?

Highly recommended.

Title: Unnecessary Drama
Author: Nina Kenwood
Publisher: Text, $24.99
Publication Date: 5 October 2022
Format: Paperback
ISBN: 978192245889
For ages: 14+
Type: Young Adult Fiction