Title: Whip It / Derby Girl
Author: Shauna Cross
Publisher: Macmillan (Square Fish imprint)
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary Fiction
I saw the movie version of Whip It, and am a big fan of flat-track roller derby, so I had to give this book a go! I ended up being surprised at how different it was from the movie…not in big ways, but in subtle things here and there.
The main plot is the same: indie-rock loving girl saddled with a beauty-patient-loving mom and a boring small town discovers roller derby, has a whirl-wind romance with a bassist, and comes out of it all strong and badass.
While the movie has a lot of action, and is partially about the progression of their derby team, the book is more character driven, and focuses more on the relationship between Bliss and Oliver. I personally prefer the movie, but they’re basically different beasts. I really like how the relationship is handled, even more so in the book than the movie. It feels very realistic. The sex is dealt with really well. It’s not tossed off as unimportant, but it’s also not overblown. The book is very upfront about it, without giving away all the nitty-gritty details. There’s also an appropriate amount of swearing—that is, a lot of it. Granted, not all teenagers swear, but a few well placed f-bombs can make all the difference in believability for me. Or maybe I was just an especially foul-mouthed teenager (/adult).
I do wish the book had gone into a bit more detail about the rules of roller derby, but that’s just the derby fan is me coming out. I don’t know much about banked-track roller derby, and from this book it sounds like the scoring is at least a bit different than flat track, so I would have liked more derby details! That’s not really a negative side to the book, though. I think she explains enough for someone new to derby to follow along, without making it confusing or overwhelming.