***It’s so hard to know where to even start with this review, because Girl Defective just blew me away. Howell’s writing was absolutely gorgeous and she managed to capture the feeling of being on the cusp of adulthood beautifully. “Blackbird singing in the dead of night, take these broken wings and learn to fly, all your life, you were only waiting for this moment to arise.” I just loved Sky. She was feisty, but also fiercely loyal to her family. She was so incredibly real. She was naive and impressionable and angry at times, yet I loved her all the more for it. I felt like I was growing with her throughout the book as she discovered fragments of truth, not only about the girl on the poster, but about life in general. It goes without saying that I also loved Luke, Nancy and Gully who were all equally wonderful, and fully developed characters. The family element of this was superbly done. As much as Sky loved her father and brother, she did get angry at them sometimes and to be honest, I loved it. I mean, we all have those moments, don’t we? I feel like it’s so unusual in YA to even see the parents in the story, but in Girl Defective the entire family relationship was so fully fleshed out and believable. I mean, families always love each other but they may not always like each other. That was something I felt really shone through in this. I adored the record store setting; it just came to life on the page. I could just imagine sifting through the racks in search of my favourite bands. I loved the story behind the name, Bill’s Wishing Well, but must admit when I first read it this song popped into my head. Incidentally if I were in that record store, I’d be searching for records by Free. I wonder if Sky would approve of my taste in music? “I liked the records to all be leaning the right way, facing me, full of promise. As I looked at their shiny faces I felt a mix of awe and sadness, Music was everything: the whole stinging ringing pulse of being human was in here pressed against each other.” However, Girl Defective was definitely not a fluffy read. It was like looking a photo of St Kilda on a sunny day when the lens wasn’t fitted properly and darkness is creeping in at the edges. Behind the record store and the parties were lost girls and missing girls and sad girls. When I finished the book I had a fleeting sense of hope, yet this darkness lurking underneath left my uneasy. “Blackbird fly, blackbird fly, into the light of a dark black night” I tried to pick a Beatles song for Girl Defective and decided that the entire White Album (aka The Beatles) would be the perfect fit. But, if I had to pick one that really captured the essence of my reading experience, then Blackbird would be it. Speaking of The Beatles, I absolutely adored all the references in Girl Defective. Mentions of She’s Leaving Home and Rocky Racoon kept me smirking throughout. Similarly, as someone whose laptop password hint was ‘Mrs Lennon’* it goes without saying that I loved the Ringo references. Oh, and if I ever, by some miracle, got into a lift with Paul McCartney, I’m sure I too would never get over it. Needless to say this is definitely one of my favourite books of 2013 and one which I wholeheartedly recommend. *A gold star to whoever can guess what my password was!