I’ve been delaying this for a little while, reviewing books is delicate business, and well, Gab Williams is a friend, but I guess I’m gunna have to suck it up and just come out with it: Beatle Meets Destiny is all kinds of fantastic.
I first read Beatle last year, and loved it. But that was after spending a day of laughs with Gab in Hyde Park, and dinner (and wine) with her family at her place. I was very aware of the fact that I may just be a tad bit biased. So, I put it down, and revisited it over the Christmas break.
And when I read something for a second time, I go for broke. I find typos, I analyse the minutia. I figured, if there was one thing that’d expose my bias, it’d be my close second reading. I was part-way through my second reading of the first chapter when I discovered the first crack: the dates didn’t match up (one of the characters couldn’t have been born in the year they were and be the age they were when the novel was set… if that makes sense).
I became fearful, maybe it wasn’t as good as I’d remembered… and then, I felt it happening. Despite the fact that finding everything that was wrong with it was my prerogative, and I was holding it to a higher level of scrutiny than I would’ve if I hadn’t met Gab before I’d read her… I still loved it. Possibly more than during my first reading.
I started to recognise and appreciate the absolute command Gab has over language, the charm of the prose, the effortless way she balances humour and heart. She’s a bro.
The date mistake as a one-off editorial error, and it doesn’t weaken what is one of the most outstanding YA releases in recent memory (and we’ve been spoilt with some outstanding YA in recent times). The voice is confident, the story is moving, and… understated. It’s about a teenaged ****** survivor, but Gab doesn’t milk it for cheap emotional moments, and most importantly, she knows that isn’t enough to build a novel out of.
While most realistic YA novels that deal with sensitive issues deal with them exclusivel (their blurbs usually read: “so-and-so is struggling with x and y“). And that’s it. In contrast, Gab keeps the issue understated and builds a compelling narrative around it. It isn’t even mentioned in the blurb. This is a love story first, issue book second. And that is what magnifies its impact (which is why I censored what it is in the review… it’s something that should be experienced naturally through the narrative).
And the dialogue! It sparkles with wit. I think, that will sell the book more effectively than me yapping on about how good it is. So, here’s an excerpt. The context: the titular Beatle and Destiny are sitting in a booth, it’s their first night out together, and they’re talking about… peas:
‘So that’s peas covered,’ Beatle said, arching an eyebrow. ‘What about your Qs?’
He intertwined his fingers with hers. Looked at the contrast between his hand, the big, blokey fingers, compared with her small-and-pleasantly-delicate-against-his ones.
‘Well,’ Destiny said, biting her lip, ‘I’m not crazy about them. But seeing as we’re talking letters, I’d quite like to have a look at your Rs.’
And she slid her eyes down to his arse, just for a moment, then collapsed in a fit of giggles.
‘Omigod,’ she said, putting her hand over her mouth, ‘the things that are coming out of my mouth tonight! I don’t know what’s wrong with me.’
Beatle looked at her seriously.
‘I hope you don’t mind me saying,’ he said, ‘but I suspect you might be a bit of a Ts.’
‘A?’ she cocked her chin.
Beatle looked closely at her. He moved towards her. His mouth close to hers.
‘Hang on,’ Destiny said, holding a finger up to Beatle’s mouth, preventing him from moving any further forward. ‘What’s the etiquette here?’
Beatle frowned at her.
‘You know. I met you on the tram stop. I’m just not sure what the kissing etiquette is in this type of situation.’
Beatle Meets Destiny by Gabrielle Williams
A young adult novel that doesn’t quite go along the traditional boy-meets-girl lines. For one thing, Beatle never normally goes out on Friday the thirteenth, but this night is an exception, and how can he avoid talking to the attractive girl who is wearing sunglasses and reading a book while waiting for the tram? Not only is her name Destiny, but her surname is McCartney, and since his real name is John Lennon, and for a whole heap of other spooky reasons as well, it seems destined that they will be together. But Beatle already has a girlfriend. Not that he’s in any hurry to tell Destiny about her… Click here to read the first chapter.